The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery is a research institute on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison built to develop a new approach to science driven by unlikely collaborations and the greatest research minds from across the campus and the world.
From the WID Director:
WID was created in 2010 with the intent of exploring new ways of generating innovation in science and engineering. Its first years were dedicated to building an outstanding team of 19 faculty members with dynamic, groundbreaking research programs that have generated more than 500 publications in data sciences, tissue engineering, nanomedicine, multi-omics, and complex systems.
In 2017, to build on these strengths, the WID community rededicated itself to serving as a catalyst for innovation through interdisciplinary research on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus and beyond. WID is exploring new ways to embody the Wisconsin Idea, the long-held tenet of the University of Wisconsin–Madison that a university is at its best when it is in dialogue with the public.
WID is experimenting with new methods of creating unlikely campus-wide interdisciplinary research teams that generate unexpected discoveries. For example, campus-wide town hall meetings are broadening the intellectual diversity brought to bear on problems by enabling members of the campus community to self-identify their interest, rather than requiring that they are already known to the research project leaders. This approach is intended to broaden participation in science and engineering problem-solving by social scientists and those in the arts and humanities, among others.
By deliberately engaging unconventional partners who bring new ways of thinking to research problems, WID works to overcome the pernicious effects of unconscious biases that act as unintended barriers to engaging with diverse people. For example, WID has a cartoonist among its faculty, we work with rural and urban Wisconsin high schools, we contract with minority-owned businesses, and we collaborate with the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine, a faith-based group that promises to change the ethnic profile of patients engaged in medical research trials by creating alliances between African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Hmong communities and researchers.
To catalyze new collaborations on the UW-Madison campus, WID has created hubs that nucleate new cross-campus research projects and provide services to enable other campus researchers to enhance their efforts in areas of WID expertise. Initially, WID has formed three hubs: the Data Science Hub, the Multi-Omics Hub, and the Illuminating Discovery Hub.
WID has created an environment that is open, collegial, and respectful, and a scientific culture that is keen on challenging the conventions that keep good ideas from becoming scientific revolutions. Join us in pushing the boundaries of disciplines.