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Research Networking Luncheons

Description and Purpose

Starting Fall 2017, as part of the Data Science Initiative and spearheaded by Professor Luis Amaral, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering in McCormick, Chair of the Data Science Initiative Steering Committee, and Co-Director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), five groups of primarily tenured and tenure-track faculty began meeting monthly organized around three topics: Finite Earth, Computational Social Sciences, and Quantitative Biology. A total of 40 luncheons occurred throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, bringing together approximately 80 faculty members from eight of Northwestern’s schools and 31 academic departments for discussion and exploration of significant and upcoming research areas that have a strong big data science and analysis focus.

Building on the success of the first year of the Data Science Research Networking Luncheons, throughout 2018-2019, four new interdisciplinary groups met to discuss the broad topics of the (city of) Chicago, Cognition, Water, and Computational Thinking, Design, and Learning. These luncheons brought together approximately 70 faculty members from both campuses, nine schools, and 35 academic departments to share ideas, explore research areas, and work on impactful projects.

Due to the success of the “research networking luncheon” model as a means of bringing together interdisciplinary groups of faculty to engage in discussion and exploration of research areas of priority to the University, the Office of Administration and Planning (OAP) is working with a variety of units to expand this model during the 2019-2020 academic year, either through direct coordination or in an advisory capacity.

The overall intention is that these luncheons will lead to new faculty connections and collaborations and set research agendas, possibly resulting in potential new and joint hires, research initiatives and proposals, collaborative publications, and/or the identification of other new projects and opportunities.