From the WID Director:
Jo Handelsman
Jo Handelsman

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 faculty members with dynamic, groundbreaking research programs that have generated more than 500 publications in data science, tissue engineering, nanomedicine, multi-omics, complex systems, and more.

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. 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.

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.