Research and Partnerships hosts collaborative Transdisciplinary Health Applications Workshop

Sep 29, 2022 | Faculty/Staff, General News, Partnerships, Research, Research and Development

Recently, Louisiana Tech University’s Office of Research and Partnerships hosted a Transdisciplinary Health Applications Workshop (THAW) to encourage collaboration across related research areas within the University.

Executive Associate Vice President of Research and Partnerships, Dr. Sumeet Dua, designed the workshop as a forum for the Louisiana Tech faculty from more than 10 academic programs across three colleges and multiple research centers. These faculty came together to discover opportunities for collaboration. Dr. Sumeet Dua stands amongst research faculty members.

“This workshop brought diverse faculty, administration, and research areas together for a ‘meeting of the minds’ on one of the most important cross-cutting key areas we are currently facing as a society, which is health,” said Dr. Julie Rutledge, Professor of Human Development and Family Science. “It was an opportunity for learning, collaboration, and networking and ended with concrete ideas and plans for transdisciplinary projects that could affect change in real-world settings that would improve the lives of individuals and communities.”

Dr. Teresa Murray, co-organizer and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering said the goal of the event was to create an environment for participants to brainstorm and create plans for large collaborative projects aimed at improving human health and wellbeing.

“The excitement over what they had done in a mere day and a half was evident in their proposed project presentations,” Murray said. “Their proposed projects utilized their diverse research interests and capabilities.”

The workshop agenda included activities to define the University’s aligned goals in transdisciplinary applied health, identify intersected approaches and expertise, to analyze the University’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in this research area, and pinpoint funding opportunities to leverage existing expertise, resources, and partnership opportunities.

Invited speakers from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in the National Institutes of Health provided a comprehensive explanation of the relevant funding options in the area. The healthcare industry panel led by Willis-Knighton: Graduate Medical Education in Shreveport, focused on the partnership opportunities that are available beyond Tech’s campus with external stakeholders.

“We are so grateful that Louisiana Tech reached out and invited us to participate in this event,” said Dr. Krystle Trosclair, Research Director at Willis-Knighton Health System. “We were able to make connections and start conversations with dozens of researchers whose diverse fields of expertise will undoubtedly lead to fruitful collaborations with our health system that will enhance the health and well-being of the people we serve.”

Participants were able to talk openly about their current research and personal endeavors and jump start their plans for advancement. Research leaders within were able to find collaborative opportunities, some with more than one discipline. For example, biology professors were able to receive insights on data analytics and biomedical engineering professors were able to understand psychological impacts of brain function research.

A white board in the foreground, groups of research faculty members watch a presentation in the background.“The opportunities related to health and wellness explored over the workshop were numerous,” said Dr. Lindsey Vincent, Associate Dean for Research, Outreach, and Innovation. “The bright and passionate faculty, staff, and administrators in attendance with novel ideas and approaches to global challenges represent the future of transdisciplinary partnerships at Louisiana Tech.”

Dr. Allison Maldonado, Director of the Office of Sponsored Projects, discussed the support offered to Louisiana Tech research by providing an overview of the newly redesigned unit, including pre-proposal support.

“Our office seeks to provide strategic, generative, and operational leadership in support of the entire research lifecycle, including assistance with diversity, inclusion, and equitable scaffolding opportunities that enrich our community,” Maldonado said.

Many of the researchers walked away from the event with new connections and opportunities to pursue new research projects centered on needs within the health applications industry. Additionally, this transdisciplinary forum provided researchers within the health application sector the opportunity to generate high-value, collaborative ideation for upcoming external funding opportunities with the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Louisiana Board of Regents, amongst other agencies.

The THAW workshop has brought an excitement and readiness to collaborate with more areas of campus, to expand areas of expertise through the knowledge and help of other faculty, and to continue building connections with fellow researchers.

“After numerous conversations with our research leaders and partners in this domain area, I believe we have untapped potential and channels to build meaningful research collaborations across the campus and with our external partners,” Dua said. “I am excited about the future of collaborative transdisciplinary health and human science research at Louisiana Tech and our region.”