Rights: The University of Waikato Published 15 April 2009 Download

In this video, Keith Hunter of Otago University explains how he realised how important it was for him in his work to collaborate with other scientists from different fields in order to get a better understanding of very complex processes. Keith believes that it is very important in science for experts to work together and share their understanding in order to learn more about the world.

Nature of science

Scientists do not work in isolation. If groups of scientists work together to consider complex issues, it helps to form a better understanding.


Not that long ago, a number of us working in this field realised that we couldn't continue to work in isolation, and I've been working in the chemistry department most of my career, but I realised that I was never going to get anywhere with these questions if I carried on talking only to chemists. And the same has occurred to people in biology, it’s occurred to people in geology. And so, increasingly, we talk to each other, and form interdisciplinary research teams to approach problems. And I think it is very important because I think a lot of people who work in the science field think that the boundaries between the disciplines are real, and they are permanent, and they have to be respected. And I think that they are only an administrative convenience – you have to have some kind of organisation, and for better or worse, those are the ones we have – and whether if you came back in 100 years… in 100 years I'd be very disappointed if there wasn't a department of biogeochemistry, and that’s maybe where some of the other departments have gone. I hope science will have moved on and reflect some of those things.