Despite the promise of interdisciplinary research, such efforts are suffering from poor organization and are less developed than many scientists think, participants at a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convocation said in 2 days of discussions and presentations last week (January 29 and 30).

The meeting, held at NAS headquarters in Washington, DC, was part of a National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, a 15-year effort to explore the potential of interdisciplinary research that started last May with a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The meeting will result in an advisory report in the coming months.

The intense interest in interdisciplinary research in recent years has been “driven by the science and technology itself,” National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Rita Colwell told The Scientist. While noting that the NSF initiated its first interdisciplinary research program 30 years ago, Colwell suggested the recent focus on interdisciplinary research has...

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