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UCLA Magazine Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore
Outside the Ivory Tower
A beautiful Mind
The Long March
The New Scientists
Critical Care

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Winter 2002
The New Scientists

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Understanding the difference “makes you think a little deeper about what you’re talking about,” Tobin says. “Anytime you have people using slightly different vocabularies, concerned about slightly different issues, you have the possibility for creative tension. And that works well.”

IN THE MATERIALS CREATION Training Program, launched last year under Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Fred Wudl ’64, Ph.D. ’67, the holder of the Courtalds Chair in Chemistry, 15 graduate students have the support of 21 faculty members from six different fields, ranging from chemistry to physics and astronomy to mechanical and aerospace engineering. As future leaders of the revolution in molecular electronics, these students are learning to design, synthesize and fabricate new materials for the next generation of electronic, communication and nanoscale devices.

In addition to the science, they are also learning critical communication skills.

In a lab course created and run by Chemistry Professor Robin Garrell, teams of students from mixed scientific backgrounds work on problems that require them to collaborate, despite their different skill sets and vocabularies. In one exercise, a team works on an experiment before passing it on to the next team, eventually rotating the experiment among all the teams. The students then must give feedback on the experiment to the original team. In another exercise, students propose a project and then recruit others from diverse scientific backgrounds to help them to complete it.

“For those of us who have been working in interdisciplinary research for awhile, we’ve learned these skills of collaboration over time,” Garrell says. “But it’s a relatively new idea to start building these skills early on.”


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