It's really hard to talk about what I do and how my research relates to other people in my department/field and the challenges of inter(sub)disciplinary research, while maintaining any pretense at pseudonymity. Inspired by Bright Star and her roller-blading analogy for her research, I decided a while ago to think of science with a sports analogy. I'm a far cry from an athlete, and endless baseball talk bores and frustrates me, so I apologize if the sports analogy antagonizes some of you. (I know FemaleScienceProfessor has ranted about them before.)
In my sports analogy, I study skiing. My faculty appointment is in cross-country skiing, but my research interests are equally spread between cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and skijoring, and how they interact. Basically, I like to travel across the snow under my own power or with some help from an animal companion.
More generally, I'd place myself in the discipline of snow sports, although two of my three degrees come from a discipline that focuses on ice sports. I embrace the icy aspects of my discipline and have found it very useful to collaborate with people who know nothing about snow but are experts on ice. In fact, one of the things that interests me is how ice patches in snow affect the skiing.
My department is very broad. We have a contingent of ice sports experts, with two of us snow sport studiers lumped in. We have a young and vibrant program in aerial sports, and I'd like to collaborate with a colleague on some heli-skiing research. And then we have a large chunk of the department that doesn't really study sports at all, but instead is interested in athletes. If you ask them about it, they'll insist that studying athletes is really studying sports. Those that are the most pure ice sport studiers disagree loudly and there is some antagonism in the department about it. The lumping together of ice sports and athlete studies is a historical accident, though far from a unique one. I think it's the Brits' fault.
Within our university, we also have all the traditional disciplines of swimming & diving, track & field, sports on wheels, archery & riflery, and a school of sports with balls. It's a veritable Olympics around here.
So anyways, I'm a skier. And I've got a skijoring lecture and lab to write for tomorrow, so I better get back to work.
Photo by Odalaigh on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Ooooh, skijor(k)ing! So jealous! As soon as i move out of this foul city that is high on my list of hobbies i grew up with that i can't currently practice.
For the record, where i grew up (rural MI, the UP to be exact) it's called Skijorking with a k. That must be an interesting regional word to dissect :)
Woohoo for winter sports!
Ok, so now curiosity is going to kill me, and it's all your fault! :)
I've seen other blogs with great analogies for research. You are so creative! I wish I could think of one...
:) Thanks for giving me credit... I was trying to find the post where I talked about the roller blading analogy -- however many blogs ago. I can't find it! Thanks for remembering it.
By the way, studying the athletes and saying that they're studying sports? That's kind of me, for some of my research. Too funny to think of it that way.
Do you think your interdisciplinary nature helped or hindered your faculty job search?