Training macrosystems scientists requires both interpersonal and technical skills

Abstract

Macrosystems science strives to integrate patterns and processes that span regional to continental scales. The scope of such research often necessitates the involvement of large interdisciplinary and/or multi-institutional teams composed of scientists across a range of career stages, a diversity that requires researchers to hone both technical and interpersonal skills. We surveyed participants in macrosystems projects funded by the US National Science Foundation to assess the perceived importance of different skills needed in their research, as well as the types of training they received. Survey results revealed a mismatch between the skills participants perceive as important and the training they received, particularly for interpersonal and management skills. We highlight lessons learned from macrosystems training case studies, explore avenues for further improvement of undergraduate and graduate education, and discuss other training opportunities for macrosystems scientists. Given the trend toward interdisciplinary research beyond the macrosystems community, these insights are broadly applicable for scientists involved in diverse, collaborative projects.

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