Examining Training Environments and Career Outcomes of Interdisciplinary STEM PhD Students
Effective Years: 2021-2026
This collaborative project with Ohio State University as the lead institution and Indiana University and Cornell University as partners examines the career outcomes across employment sectors of interdisciplinary graduate students, the environments in which they are trained, and how those environments relate to career outcomes. The investigators will use and expand an emerging infrastructure of data and measures to conduct a rich, multilevel analysis of individual career paths in the transition from graduate training to the workforce in the context of supply and demand factors that exist throughout a researcher’s career. The investigators will (1) study how the characteristics of interdisciplinary researchers compare to disciplinary researchers and how the structure of the teams and networks in which they train compare, (2) develop a range of novel measures of early career outcomes to study how outcomes relate to training environments of disciplinarians and interdisciplinarians, and (3) study how outcomes vary across disciplines and by market demand. The project will enable young researchers to be better informed about the career outcomes of interdisciplinary researchers and provide actionable information to improve the training environments for these researchers.
The project will be implemented using the emerging UMETRICS infrastructure, and the data and metrics that the investigators develop on interdisciplinarity will flow back into the UMETRICS data infrastructure and made accessible for other researchers through the virtual enclave run by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science at the University of Michigan. The research will include three tasks. Task 1: Develop rich multi-faceted measures to identify interdisciplinarity among STEM doctoral students and researchers. A wide range of integrated data resources will be used to operationalize “interdisciplinarity”. Investigators will generate field-based measures, citation-based measures, field transition measures, and text-based measures that will be cross-validated to trace the interdisciplinarity of research trajectories post graduation. Task 2: Describe the environments in which interdisciplinary graduate students train. Investigators will describe a range of dimensions of training environments and how they relate to interdisciplinary research, including advisors, teams, team size and composition, team diversity, and funding mechanism. Task 3: Estimate a wide range of career outcomes for interdisciplinary PhD recipients and the role of supply and demand in shaping outcomes. Data will examine whether interdisciplinary research is mostly induced by discoveries in new fields that open new avenues of research or whether the need for interdisciplinary research induces these discoveries. The project will expand an evolving data infrastructure for investigating STEM workforce development.
The project is supported by the EHR Core Research program that funds fundamental research focused on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.