Associate Professor Rod Dunbar (University of Auckland) talks about working across traditional research disciplines (such as biology, chemistry and computer science) to create research that is adventurous, innovative and new.
DR ROD DUNBAR
The very important thing about the work we do in the Maurice Wilkins Centre is… what we try to do is we try to put together different disciplines so that really weird ideas can pop up. So this project is a good example of that – it has taken some biology and some medicine and combined it with some computation, and what we have produced is really a world first, there is nothing like it in the world. And we try and work in those spaces which are really very adventurous and very novel, because socially in New Zealand, for us to get ahead, we are going to have be an innovation-driven science if we want to compete. We can't afford just to be doing the same old stuff everybody else does. And New Zealanders are great with new ideas. We are great with IT, we are great with creativity, and we are also very good scientists, so we need to pull all those things together to create those unique projects.
Increasingly, we are finding that the great breakthroughs are coming from working together with people from other disciplines, and so, for example, we have projects like Hayley's, we have projects in drug and vaccine design where students may be working with chemistry to make some new compound, but they’re also getting to test what that does in a biological sense. And so, in the future, I think this is going to be a much bigger and bigger trend and that people will be working in these cross-disciplinary ways.