Step 3: Interdisciplinary Research
Trainees begin collaborative interdisciplinary research through participation in the BIOTRANS grant challenge.
- Preliminary development of proposal teams and topics will be guided during the BIOTRANS-specific section of GRAD 5134 Topics in Interdisciplinary Research taken during the second year.
- Proposal writing teams will consist of two or three trainee "principal investigators". Both programmatic tracks (BST and ENG) must be represented on each team. Each team should be co-advised by at least two BIOTRANS faculty (one from each track).
- The proposed research must be based primarily on the trainees' own novel ideas, although it will be influenced by the faculty advisors. Trainees should leverage their backgrounds, expertise, research rotations, and interdisciplinary connections to gather the preliminary data that forms the basis of their proposal.
- Successful proposals will address an interdisciplinary problem involving multiscale transport at the interface of the engineering and biological sciences, will encorporate the breadth of the team members' skills, and will tie together the various aspects of the proposed work into a coherent theme. Evidence of how the proposed interdisciplinary research can be sustained through integration with each trainee’s dissertation research must be included in each proposal and will be a review criterion.
- The PIs of successful proposals will receive additional funding from the BIOTRANS program at the standard IGERT rate. The PIs of extraordinary proposals may receive up to 12 months of additional support (as resources are available), giving total possible support of 36 months. The primary purpose of this grant challenge is to provide concrete experience in obtaining financial support for scientific work.
Ideally this proposal will be merged with the advising faculty's expertise and submitted to an external organization for funding.
Upon completion of their IGEP support, trainees will be supported by external funding that is ideally based, in part, on their initial research efforts. All of the faculty involved in the BIOTRANS effort are active in externally funded research and are capable of providing support for the BIOTRANS trainees upon completion of their IGEP support.
BIOTRANS is designed to facilitate sustainable research collaborations between biologists and engineers at Virginia Tech and beyond. A BIOTRANS trainee's thesis research project is thus to be co-advised by faculty from more than one research area. The use of multiple project mentors is designed to foster inter-laboratory collaborations at Virginia Tech that will last beyond the completion of direct BIOTRANS funding.