• Adams, T. , and Y.-P. Lyu , 2018: A cross-cultural examination of the intersection of trust in forecast information and response to warnings: Technological advancements have greatly enhanced weather prediction capabilities. 13th Symp. on Societal Applications: Policy, Research, and Practice, Austin, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 7.6, https://ams.confex.com/ams/98Annual/webprogram/Paper336980.html.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bililign, S. , 2013: The need for interdisciplinary research and education for sustainable human development to deal with global challenges. Int. J. Afr. Dev., 1, 8290.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, C.-H. , K.-S. Chung, S.-C. Yang, L.-H. Chen, P.-L. Lin, and R. D. Torn , 2021: Sensitivity of forecast uncertainty to different microphysics schemes within a convection-allowing ensemble during SoWMEX-IOP8. Mon. Wea. Rev., 149, 41454166, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-20-0366.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, G. , W.-C. Wang, L. Tao, H.-H. Hsu, C.-Y. Tu, and C.-T. Cheng , 2019: Extreme snow events along the coast of the northeast United States: Analysis of observations and HiRAM simulations. J. Climate, 32, 75617574, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0874.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, G. , W.-C. Wang, C.-T. Cheng, and H.-H. Hsu , 2021: Extreme snowstorms along the coast of the northeast United States: Potential changes due to global warming. J. Climate, 34, 23372353, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0197.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, Y.-C. , S.-H. Wang, Q. Min, S. Lu, P.-L. Lin, N.-H. Lin, K.-S. Chung, and E. Joseph , 2021: Aerosol impacts on warm-cloud microphysics and drizzle in a moderately polluted environment. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 21, 44874502, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-21-4487-2021.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cheng, H.-S. , S.-C. Yang, Y.-C. Liou, and C.-S. Chen , 2020: An investigation of the sensitivity of predicting a severe rainfall event in northern Taiwan to the upstream condition with a WRF-based radar data assimilation system. SOLA, 16, 97103, https://doi.org/10.2151/sola.2020-017.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Du, Y. , and Q. Min , 2020: Numerical simulation of the aerosol impacts on winter storm in upstate New York. ESSOAr, https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10503004.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fong, J. , 2020: An evaluation of an education abroad program on the intercultural learning and cross-cultural adaptability skills of university undergraduates. Higher Educ. Eval. Dev., 14, 5568, https://doi.org/10.1108/HEED-01-2020-0002.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudet, L. C. , K. J. Sulia, F. Yu, and G. Luo , 2019: Sensitivity of lake-effect cloud microphysical processes to ice crystal habit and nucleation during OWLeS IOP4. J. Atmos. Sci., 76, 34113434, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-19-0004.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudet, L. C. , K. J. Sulia, T.-C. Tsai, J.-P. Chen, and J. P. Blair , 2021: Assessment of a microphysical ensemble used to investigate the OWLeS IOP4 lake-effect storm. J. Atmos. Sci., 78, 16071628, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-20-0045.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Graybill, J. K. , S. Dooling, V. Shandas, J. Withey, A. Greve, and G. L. Simon , 2006: A rough guide to interdisciplinarity: Graduate student perspectives. BioScience, 56, 757763, https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2006)56[757:ARGTIG]2.0.CO;2.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Henny, L. , C. D. Thorncroft, H. Hsu, and L. F. Bosart , 2021: Extreme rainfall in Taiwan: Seasonal statistics and trends. J. Climate, 34, 47114731, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0999.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howarth, M. E. , C. D. Thorncroft, and L. F. Bosart , 2019: Changes in extreme precipitation in the northeast United States: 1979–2014. J. Hydrometeor., 20, 673689, https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-18-0155.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Janapati, J. , B. K. Seela, P.-L. Lin, M.-T. Lee, and E. Joseph , 2021: Microphysical features of typhoon and non-typhoon rainfall observed in Taiwan, an island in the northwest Pacific. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 25, 40254040, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-25-4025-2021.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laken, B. A. , and S. Frode , 2016: Are there statistical links between the direction of European weather systems and ENSO, the solar cycle or stratospheric aerosols? Roy. Soc. Open Sci., 3, 150320, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150320.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupo, K. M. , R. D. Torn, and S. Yang , 2020: Evaluation of stochastic perturbed parameterization tendencies on convective-permitting ensemble forecasts of heavy rainfall events in New York and Taiwan. Wea. Forecasting, 35, 524, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-19-0064.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupo, K. M. , R. D. Torn, and S. Yang , 2022: Process-based evaluation of stochastic perturbed microphysics tendencies on ensemble forecasts of heavy rainfall events. Mon. Wea. Rev., 150, 175191, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-21-0090.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mehta, K. , K. Rasmussen, and J. Trapp , 2018: Site Visit Report: PI: Everette Joseph. Panel ID: V181448, 12 pp.

  • Morse, W. C. , M. Nielsen-Pincus, J. E. Force, and J. D. Wulfhorst , 2007: Bridges and barriers to developing and conducting interdisciplinary graduate-student team research. Ecol. Soc., 12 (2), 8, www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art8/.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 2005: Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. The National Academies Press, 332 pp., https://doi.org/10.17226/11153.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NSF, 2018: Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE). Accessed 4 February 2021, www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id5505038.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration, 2020: Xuanguang Temple. Accessed 23 June 2021, www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/en/attractions/detail/103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y. , G. Luo, and F. Yu , 2019: Seasonal variations and long‐term trend of dust particle number concentration over the northeastern United States. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 124, 13 14013 155, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JD031388.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y. , F. Yu, G. Luo, J.-P. Chen, and C. C.-K. Chou , 2020: Impact of mineral dust on summertime precipitation over the Taiwan region. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 125, e2020JD033120, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD033120.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y. , Y. J. Cai, F. Yu, G. Luo, and C. C.-K. Chou , 2021: Seasonal variations and long-term trend of mineral dust aerosols over the Taiwan region. Aerosol Air Qual. Res., 21, 200433, https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0433.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • View in gallery
    Fig. 1.

    PIRE overall model schematic.

  • View in gallery
    Fig. 2.

    Schematic of links between three aspects of interdisciplinary collaborative projects. Arrows indicate directionality, and the adjacent text provides specific examples. For instance, communication is required to select collaborators and define project structure, but project structure also forms the basis of communication.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 2 2 0
Full Text Views 395 388 14
PDF Downloads 244 242 15

Recommendations for Interinstitutional and Interdisciplinary Research Informed by a PIRE Graduate Student Cohort Perspective

Lexi HennyDepartment of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York;

Search for other papers by Lexi Henny in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Lauriana C. GaudetAtmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York;

Search for other papers by Lauriana C. Gaudet in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Kevin M. LupoDepartment of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York;

Search for other papers by Kevin M. Lupo in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Kenya GoodsHoward University, Washington, D.C.

Search for other papers by Kenya Goods in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Shadya SandersHoward University, Washington, D.C.

Search for other papers by Shadya Sanders in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Yanda ZhangAtmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York;

Search for other papers by Yanda Zhang in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Full access

Abstract

The U.S.–Taiwan Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) “Building Extreme Weather Resiliency through Improved Weather and Climate Prediction and Emergency Response Strategies” was an NSF-funded grant between universities and institutions in the United States and Taiwan that intended to understand 1) weather forecast uncertainty during extreme precipitation events and 2) how emergency managers use such information to make decisions. In this reflective paper, graduate students from the project’s working groups, including climate, ensemble, microphysics, and decision science, share their experiences of being involved in this ambitious program. A notable strength of this PIRE was its opportunities for international collaboration and related cultural experiences; however, despite direct student involvement in PIRE, student experiences varied considerably (e.g., research experiences, cultural exposure). Recommendations for improvement are informed predominantly by U.S.-based graduate student experiences and are discussed with the intention of bolstering future interdisciplinary research for students and investigators. To this end, projects of this scale and scope could benefit from more frequent communication among leadership and research groups, as well as explicitly outlining and prioritizing interactions between groups to focus and strengthen collaboration toward the completion of interdisciplinary research goals.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Lauriana C. Gaudet, lauriana.gaudet@gmail.com

*National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado;

*Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

Abstract

The U.S.–Taiwan Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) “Building Extreme Weather Resiliency through Improved Weather and Climate Prediction and Emergency Response Strategies” was an NSF-funded grant between universities and institutions in the United States and Taiwan that intended to understand 1) weather forecast uncertainty during extreme precipitation events and 2) how emergency managers use such information to make decisions. In this reflective paper, graduate students from the project’s working groups, including climate, ensemble, microphysics, and decision science, share their experiences of being involved in this ambitious program. A notable strength of this PIRE was its opportunities for international collaboration and related cultural experiences; however, despite direct student involvement in PIRE, student experiences varied considerably (e.g., research experiences, cultural exposure). Recommendations for improvement are informed predominantly by U.S.-based graduate student experiences and are discussed with the intention of bolstering future interdisciplinary research for students and investigators. To this end, projects of this scale and scope could benefit from more frequent communication among leadership and research groups, as well as explicitly outlining and prioritizing interactions between groups to focus and strengthen collaboration toward the completion of interdisciplinary research goals.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Lauriana C. Gaudet, lauriana.gaudet@gmail.com

*National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado;

*Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program supports international research collaboration across diverse regions, cultures, and scientific fields to extend the frontiers of science and education (NSF 2018). The U.S.–Taiwan PIRE “Building Extreme Weather Resiliency through Improved Weather and Climate Prediction and Emergency Response Strategies” focused on mitigating the impacts of extreme precipitation events by improving 1) aspects of weather and climate modeling and 2) the understanding of risk assessment and decision-making by emergency managers. While elements of climate and atmospheric science have been investigated in multiple NSF PIRE projects over the last 15 years, this U.S.–Taiwan PIRE (2015–21) was the first to focus on regional weather forecasting and hazard communication.

The U.S.–Taiwan PIRE had three science objectives in the fields of regional climate and weather extremes, probabilistic numerical weather prediction (NWP), and decision science (Fig. 1) across five institutions.1 These objectives corresponded to four research groups: 1) climate, 2) ensemble, 3) microphysics, and 4) decision science. The climate group focused on extreme precipitation climatology and trends in the northeastern United States (Howarth et al. 2019; G. Chen et al. 2019, 2021; Henny et al. 2021, manuscript submitted to J. Climate) and Taiwan (Henny et al. 2021), with ongoing work identifying extreme precipitation-producing weather patterns in past and future climates. The ensemble group studied the effects of stochastic model error schemes on probabilistic rainfall forecasts (Lupo et al. 2020, 2022) in both the northeastern United States and Taiwan, emphasizing the processes driving rainfall variability. Another focus within this group was on the ways in which convective-scale ensemble data assimilation can improve short-term heavy rainfall prediction in Taiwan (Cheng et al. 2020; Yeh et al. 2021, manuscript submitted to Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.).

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

PIRE overall model schematic.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 103, 5; 10.1175/BAMS-D-21-0057.1

The microphysics group analyzed seasonal aerosol variations and trends over the northeastern U.S. and Taiwan regions (Zhang et al. 2019, 2021) and examined the impacts of aerosols on precipitating systems in both warm (Zhang et al. 2020; Y.-C. Chen et al. 2021) and cool seasons (Du and Min 2020). Precipitation sensitivities to microphysical processes involving ice-phase hydrometeors in the United States were also identified (Gaudet et al. 2019, 2021), and observed microphysical features of typhoon and nontyphoon rainfall in Taiwan were analyzed (Janapati et al. 2021). One microphysics-ensemble group collaboration focused on a heavy precipitation case study in Taiwan to investigate the sensitivity of ensemble-based forecast uncertainty to various microphysics schemes (C.-H. Chen et al. 2021). Finally, the decision science group investigated cultural and demographic differences in risk perception, confidence in weather forecasts, and decision-making practices of emergency managers in both the United States and Taiwan through interviews and surveys. This group also explored strategies for incorporating research findings into emergency management operations, including professional training, experiential learning, and direct engagement with emergency management agencies. The four groups were encouraged informally [i.e., by project principal investigators (PIs)] within the project proposal and at annual meetings to work collaboratively to conduct interdisciplinary research toward the goals of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE.

The U.S.–Taiwan PIRE also aimed to improve the cross-cultural literacy of all participants (e.g., Fong 2020) and provide international research opportunities for both U.S.- and Taiwan-based students. Analysis by the evaluation group showed improvements in cross-cultural literacy among PIRE undergraduates (Fong 2020), and evidence obtained from focus groups indicated that intercultural growth was also an outcome for graduate students. At annual meetings, students and faculty not only shared their results and participated in educational exercises, but also visited local research and cultural sites.

Each graduate student, regardless of group, followed the traditional disciplinary training of their field; however, the inclusion of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural objectives introduced both opportunities and challenges. Graybill et al. (2006) and Morse et al. (2007) described challenges related to interdisciplinary research conducted under two NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs from the perspective of graduate students. Graybill et al. (2006) explained that there is generally little guidance for both students and faculty in conducting interdisciplinary research, particularly noting that the experiences of graduate students working in interdisciplinary research and training programs are not often considered. As a result, they recommended that graduate students should focus on personal and professional development and interdisciplinary research skills. Morse et al. (2007) recommend a focus on accountability, communication, team building, project design, and training. PIRE emphasized international and cross-cultural interaction more than the IGERT programs, but still included strong interdisciplinary goals. Therefore, it is beneficial to examine the successes and challenges of PIRE from the graduate student perspective. This reflective paper describes the evolution of graduate student collaborations between 2016 and 2021, documenting experiences among the U.S.-based graduate student cohort and providing lessons learned, recommendations, and concluding remarks.

Evolution of graduate student perspectives

Interdisciplinary and interinstitutional.

Much of the interdisciplinary collaboration and sharing of results took place during annual PIRE meetings, including presentations from undergraduate students working on summer projects, graduate students contributing to long-term research goals, and PIs guiding the course of the research. These annual meetings served as a forum for sharing and discussing results across the entire scope of the project and, through capstone workshops, as a collaborative learning space for students to become acquainted with complex decision-making processes such as those faced by emergency managers. Focused largely on meteorological decision-making, the capstone workshops were designed to facilitate interdisciplinary learning by incorporating PIRE-related knowledge into real-world scenarios that fall within the project’s area of focus. In the experience of the graduate student cohort, these workshops provided a valuable and instructive window into the emergency manager decision-making process during impactful weather events.

Outside of the annual meetings, intergroup and interinstitutional work was to take place in several ways. First, PIRE groups were to engage in synchronous research, collectively studying common cases and synthesizing results. Second, international collaboration was to take place within each group—for example, the decision science group, where Taiwan- and U.S.-based researchers were to collaborate on the design of survey instruments (written in English and translated to Mandarin) for emergency managers. And finally, interdisciplinary research and education was to be facilitated by the establishment of interdisciplinary graduate certificate and undergraduate certificate programs, as well as the aforementioned capstone workshops. Unfortunately, these certificate programs were not ultimately implemented.

In the experience of the graduate student cohort, interinstitutional, international, and interdisciplinary collaboration succeeded in some contexts (e.g., annual meetings) and failed in others (e.g., intergroup communication outside of annual meetings) due to a lack of guidelines and expectations. Data and results sharing occurred mostly between international partners of the same research group and discipline—and sometimes within smaller subgroups—in the place of truly integrated interdisciplinary work across all groups. The U.S.-based climate diagnostics subgroup intended to connect with various Taiwanese peers, but never reached outside of the immediate subgroup. The U.S.-based microphysics group adjusted the originally proposed work due to unforeseen cross-institutional data-sharing limitations. Moreover, given the range of modeling experience and parameterization types among U.S.-based microphysics group members, it was decided early to favor research within smaller clusters of the group rather than spend much of the project performing technical model integration. Tentative plans for studying common cases did not materialize until late in the project, and the research on these cases occurred in parallel rather than as part of an integrated investigation.

One of the strengths of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE was the promotion of student research and learning. Graduate students were typically first authors on publications based on the research that they led and presented a majority of the research at PIRE annual meetings. Student training and participation were also a cornerstone of the project, especially within the domains of social science and emergency preparedness. As part of the student-led and expert-guided Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST), students of the National Center for Security and Preparedness (NCSP) at the University of Albany explored how emergency managers communicate severe weather forecasts, associated risks, and the public perception of the communicated risks. Additional research options for VOST students included internships at the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) in Taiwan and a severe weather and risk management training course. Most of these opportunities were designed for undergraduate students, leaving graduate students with fewer opportunities for training outside of the annual meetings. At the graduate level, collaboration between the physical and social sciences was hampered by the imbalance between the social and physical sciences within the project structure; PIRE included multiple groups that involved subdisciplines within the atmospheric sciences (i.e., climate, microphysics, and ensemble groups), but only one group focused on social sciences, with no recognition or inclusion of its subdisciplines.

As the project evolved, the U.S.-based graduate student cohort conceived the idea of a collaborative project incorporating elements of the various groups’ research: climatology background from the climate group, meteorological modeling from the ensemble and microphysics groups, and survey design and implementation, as well as communication with emergency managers, from the decision science group. The proposal iteratively developed a set of forecast products tailored for an extreme precipitation event with continuous feedback from social scientists, followed by a survey distribution to emergency managers to assess the impact of novel products. The PI response to this idea was positive, leading to the completion of the forecast products by late 2020. At this stage, the graduate student cohort began participating in the faculty science meetings, providing updates and asking for feedback regarding a publication centered around the product development process and survey results. Ultimately, this collaborative project was shelved to allow space for students to complete their graduate degrees. Even so, the graduate student project had become a natural, albeit unexpected, focal point for discussion about the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE legacy and lessons learned.

International and intercultural.

PIs and graduate students had multiple opportunities to travel internationally for the sake of fostering international research relationships, training, and intercultural learning. Within the U.S.-based graduate student cohort, many students traveled to Taipei and Taoyuan, Taiwan, for research purposes. Multiple graduate students from the Taiwan-based universities traveled to Albany, New York; two of these students provided feedback that is incorporated into this paper. Beyond these shorter research trips, PIRE also established a graduate dual-degree program in which students would split their time between U.S. and Taiwanese institutions. However, this program was underutilized, and the mid-grant NSF review recommended against devoting resources to its expansion (Mehta et al. 2018).

PIRE-supported undergraduate students from Taiwan- and U.S.-based universities also traveled to collaborating universities in the other country, often for longer periods of up to several months. During their summer research experiences, these undergraduate students were typically mentored by graduate students and faculty at the institutions they visited. The involvement of graduate students as secondary mentors often resulted in PIRE-related undergraduate research projects. This type of student mentoring has culminated in one coauthored student publication to date (e.g., Gaudet et al. 2021).

Where possible, PIRE provided structure and cultural education relevant to international experiences. PIs recognized that multiple U.S.-based students had little to no familiarity with Asian cultures and languages. In response, an unofficial semester-long class was developed to teach the graduate student cohort about Taiwanese customs and culture. This class also aimed to provide an introduction to Mandarin, although a truly comprehensive overview would have required a more time-intensive course. It served as a helpful cultural primer ahead of the 2017 PIRE annual meeting in Taiwan.

PIRE facilitated additional intercultural and scientific education by organizing both research- and culture-centric excursions for visiting participants. During the 2017 annual meeting, students and faculty from U.S.-based institutions were given tours of various culturally significant and scientifically relevant locations in northern Taiwan, led by their Taiwanese counterparts. The 2019 annual meeting at Sun Moon Lake, in central Taiwan, included similar culture-focused activities, including a visit to the Xuanguang Temple, where the relics of an important Buddhist monk are enshrined (Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration 2020). Similarly, Taiwanese undergraduate and graduate students visiting Albany were provided tours of research facilities as well as landmarks in the area, such as the Whiteface Mountain observatory in the Adirondack Mountains.

Unfortunately and unavoidably, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented travel from early 2020 through the completion of the PIRE program for both undergraduate and graduate students. Though participants adjusted well to the virtual format of subsequent communications, collaboration between large groups at the annual meetings was impeded by 1) shorter meeting times due to time zone differences and 2) the inherent difficulty of engaging over a virtual meeting platform.

Lessons learned

Interdisciplinary and interinstitutional.

Interdisciplinary research integrates knowledge, data, and methodologies from a variety of individual disciplines to answer complex, multifaceted research questions (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine 2005). Ideally, interdisciplinary integration includes not only a strong preexisting framework of communication and collaboration, but also an overarching vision for how each group fits into the whole. To improve future interdisciplinary research outcomes, aspects of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE project outcomes and proposal design are reviewed here. A particular emphasis is placed on the interdisciplinary component, as the potential for improvement is stronger relative to the intercultural, international, and student involvement components. These “lessons learned” are grouped into three categories which are referenced throughout the remainder of the paper: 1) program structure and research goals, 2) interdisciplinary framework, and 3) communication (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Schematic of links between three aspects of interdisciplinary collaborative projects. Arrows indicate directionality, and the adjacent text provides specific examples. For instance, communication is required to select collaborators and define project structure, but project structure also forms the basis of communication.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 103, 5; 10.1175/BAMS-D-21-0057.1

Program structure and goals.

The foundation for interdisciplinary work is set by two critical decisions at the inception of a large collaborative project: the choice of collaborators and the shared research objectives of the project. Factoring preexisting networks into the choice of collaborators offers the advantage of importing personal and professional relationships into the project, potentially decreasing spinup time. Factoring participants’ scientific background into the choice of collaborators, meanwhile, is crucial for the capacity of the project to achieve its scientific goals. The inter-PI relationships of the PIRE project evolved both from preexisting relationships or institutional membership and from consideration of scientific expertise. Ideally, this approach should have led to the development of more intergroup connections earlier in the PIRE project timeline. However, those connections would have been strengthened by more specific language in the proposal, as discussed in the following section.

Experience suggests that large-scale integrated research projects similar to PIRE need to properly account for spinup time, both within research groups (disciplinary) and between them (interdisciplinary). These timelines would ideally occur in parallel whenever possible, in order to maximize the amount of cross-cutting work that can be completed by the end of the program. In PIRE, disciplinary research was formalized and matured more rapidly than interdisciplinary research. As a result, the planning of PIRE’s interdisciplinary components may have been delayed, which limited deeper integration between groups. Explicitly outlining and incentivizing specific interdisciplinary interactions may have helped to mitigate this discrepancy.

In effective interdisciplinary projects, researchers work in a problem-oriented way that cuts across disciplines (Bililign 2013). To address the complex research questions posed in these projects, both the involved methodologies and the grouping of personnel into research teams should consider all of the involved disciplines. The initial research question posed in PIRE was an offshoot of an unresolved interdisciplinary question—how to predict and respond to increasingly common extreme weather events. Yet, this interdisciplinary question was approached in a fundamentally disciplinary way, by tasking traditional single-discipline groups—climate, ensemble, microphysics, decision science—with distinct aspects of the problem.

Interdisciplinary framework.

The scientific expertise of the project PIs and researchers led to a natural organization of groups around primary atmospheric science subfields, with well-defined goals within these groups that aimed to contribute to the project as a whole. However, maintaining discipline-specific goals allowed researchers to remain in their academic comfort zone, which inhibited interdisciplinary synthesis and outreach between groups. A recommendation emerging from this experience would be, rather, to group researchers by specific interdisciplinary project goals. For example, one PIRE goal included an assessment of how emergency managers understand probabilistic forecast information with participation from the social science and ensemble groups. The two groups performed their expertise-driven research independently, followed by an integration of research results—a multidisciplinary approach. To transition from multidisciplinary to interdisciplinary in this example, experience suggests that the two separate ensemble and social science groups be combined into a single “probabilistic understanding” group, with specific tasks developed within the involved disciplines. This may aid researchers in identifying their contributions to the interdisciplinary goal from project inception, allowing the entire project lifetime for the development and culmination of interdisciplinary work. It is recommended that interdisciplinary research tasks and outcomes be defined within the initial research proposal, clearly identifying subgroup roles contributing to the joint endeavor.

The original goal of PIRE was to facilitate collaboration at multiple levels (e.g., PIs, students) and between many different groups (Fig. 1). In reality, the absence of intentionality, specific goals, checkpoints, and criteria for interdisciplinary collaboration severely impeded the effort to produce an active and evolving intergroup flow of information. Both U.S.- and Taiwan-based graduate students experienced less communication and fewer learning opportunities between groups than might ideally have occurred. This suggests the need for a more detailed research plan that will truly integrate the work of different fields, as in the “probabilistic understanding” group proposed above. This plan should be paired with an accountability strategy that provides specific checkpoints and goals for researchers to meet to ensure the success of the program.

Furthermore, an emphasis on clear expectations and accountability might help foster interdisciplinary and interinstitutional educational components which did not materialize as expected in this project. In addition to the graduate dual-degree program, which had low participation rates, the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE proposed interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate certificate programs that were ultimately not developed. With strengthened interinstitutional planning and PI–student communication about such educational opportunities, these programs could serve as a cornerstone of interdisciplinary research projects, facilitating collaboration between groups and institutions as well as providing cross-cutting training to students.

Communication.

Effective interdisciplinary project organization and research plans require a final element to achieve their goals: equally effective communication. Communication should be facilitated, in part, by an accountability strategy included in the project’s research plan. However, there are other tools that can encourage good communication practices. One such tool that was used to mixed effect in PIRE was a script-sharing platform—Repository for Archiving, Managing, and Accessing Diverse Data (RAMADDA)—where researchers could share completed code. Since this tool was incorporated 18 months into the program without proper training and advertisement, it was largely underutilized. As a result, it is recommended to have a file-sharing platform prior to or within months of the start of the program, with adequate training and encouraged utilization. It is also becoming increasingly common in the atmospheric sciences to make results publicly available and reproducible using services such as GitHub (e.g., Laken and Frode 2016)—a criterion that could enhance communication between components of a large interdisciplinary project in addition to facilitating good scientific practices.

Other avenues of communication should seek to minimize the single-discipline mentality that can develop when interdisciplinary research is not the primary focus of all project members. Effective communication could also combat the ambiguity that arose regarding graduate student roles in a collaboration of this size. For instance, the expected role of graduate students in facilitating interdisciplinary research connections was often unclear. Hence, it is recommended that early communication of responsibilities—particularly to students by leadership—be incorporated into the research plan and proposal, and that open lines of communication be established early to facilitate these interactions seamlessly.

A well-established framework that facilitates effective collaboration among diverse research groups is ideal for a project of this size. Still, new ideas cannot always be accounted for by a research plan formulated at the inception of a project. To this end, new avenues of collaboration should be explored where appropriate, even if they are not explicitly outlined in the project proposal. As long as the research still contributes to the overarching goals of the project, spontaneous collaboration can strengthen interdisciplinary outcomes—especially if expectations are left unclear at the start of the project. Such endeavors have the potential not only to add to the research component of a project, but also to foster new ideas and a sense of ownership among its participants.

International and intercultural.

International and intercultural collaboration proved to be a key component of the project in two respects: first, it enhanced research outcomes in the physical science disciplines, and second, it provided additional context for evaluating social science research across cultures.

There was typically good communication and feedback between the U.S.-based and Taiwan-based components of each group—a success which greatly benefited the quality of the research. For instance, the U.S.-based researchers were provided access to high-quality local meteorological data in Taiwan, which would otherwise have been difficult or impossible to obtain. Researchers in each country were also able to share local weather and climate expertise with their international collaborators. Prioritization of strong connections such as these is important while conducting international research.

Group cohesion and community between members of different groups, institutions, and cultures were strengthened through sharing of culturally significant experiences and daily interactions. For example, during a 2-week research visit to National Central University (NCU), one U.S.-based graduate student was invited to join a Taiwan-based PI and their research group for a 2-day trip to culturally relevant sites near Sun Moon Lake and was able to interact with students in the group on a daily basis. While not directly research-related, such interactions enhanced this student’s experience with the project and collaborative relationships. Similar student experiences could be facilitated by designing courses that would allow visiting PIRE students to interact with local students, providing additional opportunities for visits to relevant scientific and cultural sites, or pairing students from different countries as peer mentors. Future projects might also develop other activities that entail communication and interaction between students in different countries and cultures.

Intercultural collaboration was a cornerstone of the PIRE proposal from a scientific standpoint, adding another dimension to the decision science group’s investigation of how emergency managers interpret extreme precipitation forecasts. Risk assessment varies not only between demographics within a country, but also across countries. U.S. and Taiwanese researchers used similar procedures to examine risk assessment by the general public and emergency managers in both regions. Cross-cultural comparisons investigated differences in forecast trust and technology use between emergency managers in the United States and Taiwan working in regions threatened by extreme precipitation. Both U.S. and Taiwan researchers noted significant differences in survey design, participation rates, and survey length tolerance from local residents (Adams and Lyu 2018).

Ultimately, the international and intercultural components of the PIRE project added value both to the student experience and to the various research goals. Graduate students benefited from exposure to a culture that many were largely unfamiliar with. Research teams benefited from the perspectives of regional subject-matter experts. And international travel provided useful context for future collaborative trips, especially for those students without prior international travel experience. International and intercultural collaborations were not simply side benefits in this project; rather, they were core components integral to its success.

Recommendations

Based on experiences with the successes and shortcomings of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE project, recommendations are provided to help interdisciplinary collaboration flourish in future programs. These recommendations are grouped into the three categories used in the previous section: project structure and goals, interdisciplinary framework, and communication (Fig. 2).

Program structure and goals.

Recommendation 1.

Identify research goals and fields of study best equipped to address research aims. Collaborating with researchers across disciplines, utilizing preexisting professional relationships, and encouraging the integration of unique perspectives at the onset of the project can help frame its scope and establish practical, reasonable, and achievable courses of action.

Recommendation 2.

Establish working groups and subgroups according to the goals of the project rather than strictly by discipline, thus conceptualizing the entire project through an interdisciplinary lens.

Recommendation 3.

Establish and execute onboarding procedures to familiarize participants with research goals, timelines, expectations, and fellow collaborators early in the project. PIs must allocate sufficient time for this introduction prior to the start of research and data collection. Given the iterative nature of research, PIs should develop protocols to effectively communicate modifications to original research goals. PIs should ensure that all participants are aware of modified expectations and that they are able to work in sync at all times.

Interdisciplinary framework.

Recommendation 4.

Collaboratively determine tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines. It is imperative that all participants are cognizant of how their work contributes to the overall goals of the project and advances its progression.

Recommendation 5.

Establish accountability strategies to track research progression and interdisciplinary group performance. The accountability framework should retain ample flexibility to allow disciplinary research to prosper, but importantly ensure that participants remain on-task within the context of larger, collaborative research plans.

Communication.

Recommendation 6.

Identify platforms that enable information to be efficiently distributed to project collaborators on a continuous basis. Methods for cross-institutional and international data sharing should be established before the start of the project. PIs should also consider the trajectory of the research itself, selecting platforms that are user-friendly and accessible to future investigators aiming to build upon the work.

Recommendation 7.

Encourage frequent communication among group PIs or other project coordinators, especially where close collaboration is indicated by the research plan. There should be strong correspondence at the onset of the project. Once project goals and structure are clear, graduate students should also be integrated into this communication plan to facilitate a smooth transition into leadership roles where appropriate.

Recommendation 8.

Create a space where collaborators can share findings and information in real time and encourage the use of this shared space early and often through the project. Researchers should be able to receive feedback and support from individuals both within and external to their respective disciplines or groups. This type of collaboration should be encouraged and practiced by all parties contributing to the project.

Conclusions

The U.S.–Taiwan PIRE was developed with an overarching goal of fostering a culture of interdisciplinary research, training, and education to advance a greater understanding of resiliency and response solutions in addressing extreme weather. This objective was to be achieved through strong interdisciplinary, interinstitutional, international, and intercultural collaboration and learning, following a plan described in the project proposal.

Participation in such a large-scale and interdisciplinary project was overall a positive experience for the U.S.-based graduate student cohort. Throughout the course of the project, students gained first-hand knowledge of the advantages and potential pitfalls of collaborative research—lessons which will enable facilitation of effective interdisciplinary research projects in the future. Furthermore, the PIRE project met its goals in many areas, providing valuable research to the community as well as education and experience to its participants. Annual project-wide meetings and monthly science meetings were a model of research sharing. Intercultural education was another strong feature of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE, including the language and culture class and guided tours during international visits, as well as strong encouragement of student travel tied to international collaboration.

In any large and multifaceted project, there are certain areas where the design or implementation of the research plan could be improved. In the case of the U.S.–Taiwan PIRE, the most prominent areas for potential improvement were associated with the project structure and mechanisms for interdisciplinary collaboration. This paper provides several recommendations for similar collaborations based on the lessons learned throughout this project. These recommendations focus on three categories: project structure and goals, interdisciplinary framework, and communication. Recommendations for improvements in each of these aspects highlight the importance of clearly defined expectations and accountability strategies. These recommendations address the natural tendency of broader-scope, interdisciplinary goals to take a secondary role to more individual, disciplinary research responsibilities.

It is the intention of this discussion that the experiences described in this paper, conveying both the successes and the pitfalls faced by a large international and interdisciplinary project, can aid in the planning and execution of similar endeavors. We hope that these insights help forthcoming ambitious interdisciplinary projects thrive in a truly immersive culture of collaboration.

1

The five involved institutions include the University at Albany, Howard University, National Central University, National Taiwan University, and Academia Sinica.

Acknowledgments.

The research and program reviewed in this paper were supported by the National Science Foundation Partnership for International Research and Education Program between the United States and Taiwan, OISE-1545917. The authors wish to thank the two Taiwanese graduate students—Ying-Chieh Chen, and one anonymous—who shared with us their perspectives on the PIRE project, as well as the project PIs who provided feedback that contributed to the present form of the paper. The authors are also thankful for the comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers, which served to improve this paper.

Data availability statement.

No datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.

References

  • Adams, T. , and Y.-P. Lyu , 2018: A cross-cultural examination of the intersection of trust in forecast information and response to warnings: Technological advancements have greatly enhanced weather prediction capabilities. 13th Symp. on Societal Applications: Policy, Research, and Practice, Austin, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 7.6, https://ams.confex.com/ams/98Annual/webprogram/Paper336980.html.

  • Bililign, S. , 2013: The need for interdisciplinary research and education for sustainable human development to deal with global challenges. Int. J. Afr. Dev., 1, 8290.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, C.-H. , K.-S. Chung, S.-C. Yang, L.-H. Chen, P.-L. Lin, and R. D. Torn , 2021: Sensitivity of forecast uncertainty to different microphysics schemes within a convection-allowing ensemble during SoWMEX-IOP8. Mon. Wea. Rev., 149, 41454166, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-20-0366.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, G. , W.-C. Wang, L. Tao, H.-H. Hsu, C.-Y. Tu, and C.-T. Cheng , 2019: Extreme snow events along the coast of the northeast United States: Analysis of observations and HiRAM simulations. J. Climate, 32, 75617574, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0874.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, G. , W.-C. Wang, C.-T. Cheng, and H.-H. Hsu , 2021: Extreme snowstorms along the coast of the northeast United States: Potential changes due to global warming. J. Climate, 34, 23372353, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0197.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chen, Y.-C. , S.-H. Wang, Q. Min, S. Lu, P.-L. Lin, N.-H. Lin, K.-S. Chung, and E. Joseph , 2021: Aerosol impacts on warm-cloud microphysics and drizzle in a moderately polluted environment. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 21, 44874502, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-21-4487-2021.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cheng, H.-S. , S.-C. Yang, Y.-C. Liou, and C.-S. Chen , 2020: An investigation of the sensitivity of predicting a severe rainfall event in northern Taiwan to the upstream condition with a WRF-based radar data assimilation system. SOLA, 16, 97103, https://doi.org/10.2151/sola.2020-017.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Du, Y. , and Q. Min , 2020: Numerical simulation of the aerosol impacts on winter storm in upstate New York. ESSOAr, https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10503004.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fong, J. , 2020: An evaluation of an education abroad program on the intercultural learning and cross-cultural adaptability skills of university undergraduates. Higher Educ. Eval. Dev., 14, 5568, https://doi.org/10.1108/HEED-01-2020-0002.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudet, L. C. , K. J. Sulia, F. Yu, and G. Luo , 2019: Sensitivity of lake-effect cloud microphysical processes to ice crystal habit and nucleation during OWLeS IOP4. J. Atmos. Sci., 76, 34113434, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-19-0004.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaudet, L. C. , K. J. Sulia, T.-C. Tsai, J.-P. Chen, and J. P. Blair , 2021: Assessment of a microphysical ensemble used to investigate the OWLeS IOP4 lake-effect storm. J. Atmos. Sci., 78, 16071628, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAS-D-20-0045.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Graybill, J. K. , S. Dooling, V. Shandas, J. Withey, A. Greve, and G. L. Simon , 2006: A rough guide to interdisciplinarity: Graduate student perspectives. BioScience, 56, 757763, https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2006)56[757:ARGTIG]2.0.CO;2.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Henny, L. , C. D. Thorncroft, H. Hsu, and L. F. Bosart , 2021: Extreme rainfall in Taiwan: Seasonal statistics and trends. J. Climate, 34, 47114731, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0999.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howarth, M. E. , C. D. Thorncroft, and L. F. Bosart , 2019: Changes in extreme precipitation in the northeast United States: 1979–2014. J. Hydrometeor., 20, 673689, https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM-D-18-0155.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Janapati, J. , B. K. Seela, P.-L. Lin, M.-T. Lee, and E. Joseph , 2021: Microphysical features of typhoon and non-typhoon rainfall observed in Taiwan, an island in the northwest Pacific. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 25, 40254040, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-25-4025-2021.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laken, B. A. , and S. Frode , 2016: Are there statistical links between the direction of European weather systems and ENSO, the solar cycle or stratospheric aerosols? Roy. Soc. Open Sci., 3, 150320, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150320.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupo, K. M. , R. D. Torn, and S. Yang , 2020: Evaluation of stochastic perturbed parameterization tendencies on convective-permitting ensemble forecasts of heavy rainfall events in New York and Taiwan. Wea. Forecasting, 35, 524, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-19-0064.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupo, K. M. , R. D. Torn, and S. Yang , 2022: Process-based evaluation of stochastic perturbed microphysics tendencies on ensemble forecasts of heavy rainfall events. Mon. Wea. Rev., 150, 175191, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-21-0090.1.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mehta, K. , K. Rasmussen, and J. Trapp , 2018: Site Visit Report: PI: Everette Joseph. Panel ID: V181448, 12 pp.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Morse, W. C. , M. Nielsen-Pincus, J. E. Force, and J. D. Wulfhorst , 2007: Bridges and barriers to developing and conducting interdisciplinary graduate-student team research. Ecol. Soc., 12 (2), 8, www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art8/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 2005: Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. The National Academies Press, 332 pp., https://doi.org/10.17226/11153.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NSF, 2018: Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE). Accessed 4 February 2021, www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id5505038.

  • Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration, 2020: Xuanguang Temple. Accessed 23 June 2021, www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/en/attractions/detail/103.

  • Zhang, Y. , G. Luo, and F. Yu , 2019: Seasonal variations and long‐term trend of dust particle number concentration over the northeastern United States. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 124, 13 14013 155, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JD031388.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y. , F. Yu, G. Luo, J.-P. Chen, and C. C.-K. Chou , 2020: Impact of mineral dust on summertime precipitation over the Taiwan region. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 125, e2020JD033120, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD033120.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Y. , Y. J. Cai, F. Yu, G. Luo, and C. C.-K. Chou , 2021: Seasonal variations and long-term trend of mineral dust aerosols over the Taiwan region. Aerosol Air Qual. Res., 21, 200433, https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0433.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Save