Transdisciplinary Research (TDR): Building Excellence in Research Communities

Transdisciplinary Research (TDR): Building Excellence in Research Communities
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Wednesday 29 September 2021

01:00 PM - 03:00 PM


Online (Zoom - registration required)



Coventry University Research, alongside keynote speakers, invite the entire research community from Early Career Researchers through to Professors, to attend this event which seeks to spotlight the benefits offered by Transdisciplinary Research (TDR). This event will also look into how TDR can enhance research capabilities and outputs, alongside developing thriving networks.

Coventry University Hosts

Professor Elena Gaura and Professor Neil Forbes.

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr Philip Mair

    Dr Philip Mair

    Philip Mair is the current Programme Manager of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies at the University of Cambridge and the incoming Deputy to the Associate Vice President Postgraduate Education at EPFL.

    Philip is passionate about creating the right environment for doctoral students of STEMM subjects to grow into researchers fit for the 21st century. Philip completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge and graduated in Biological Chemistry from ETH Zurich.

  • Samantha Aspinall

    Samantha Aspinall

    Samantha Aspinall is Head of Interdisciplinary Research Development at the University of Leeds. Her driver and passion is to bring academics together from very different disciplines and see where their research or methods might overlap to create something novel.

    Samantha leads the Interdisciplinary R&I Development Team who design and deliver a programme of opportunities to encourage a wider culture of working in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways. The programme is based on Samantha’s experiences of facilitating successful events and trying novel approaches, often to address grand challenges. She runs the Leeds Crucible – an interdisciplinary programme for early career academics that gives them time and space to think about themselves, their research and explore how to work together to develop new ideas.

    Until recently, she was a member of the BBSRC Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Panel, where we set the expectations for spending £170M on DTP3 and fostering the next generation of bioscience researchers. She have been a panel member for BBSRC and NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and currently sits on the ESRC Review Group. She has been a UKRI Future Leader Fellow Roving Panel Member since its inception.


A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted the significant need to focus on Transdisciplinary Research (TDR), stating that “different scientific disciplines, including natural and social sciences and humanities (SSH) need to work together and to fully engage other public and private sector actors, including policy-makers. Solutions to complex societal challenges, such as those embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), cannot to be generated based solely on disciplinary research but require a paradigm shift in research practice.” 

Coventry University invites the entire research community to this event, which seeks to provide a practical insight from research experts as to how TDR can be implemented. The event will spotlight successful project examples of TDR, whilst featuring keynote speakers from Higher Education Institutions.  

TDR provides a powerful mechanism for combining different branches of knowledge and practice to develop social and technological solutions. It can also address complex problems beyond the reach of traditional science by expanding on existing scientific evidence and giving rise to more innovative, holistic solutions, offering a practical way to address contemporary issues. TDR can generate both new scientific insights and practical societal benefits.  

However, despite increasing interest in TDR at policy level, there are significant barriers to conducting rigorous TDR within Higher Education Institutions. During this workshop, we will discuss the ambitions of TDR across the sector, which the OECD study states to be “to achieve a common goal, involving the creation of new knowledge and theory. TDR criss-crosses the traditionally separated realms of science and practice and advances both simultaneously.”


Time Title Speaker
1:00PM An Introduction to Transdisciplinary Research
  • Welcome
  • An introduction to TDR
  • Why TDR is vital today
  • What is TDR and how can it be achieved?
Professor Neil Forbes
1:10PM Am I ready for Transdisciplinary Research? Eureka!
  • A conversation exploring approaches to developing transdisciplinary research
  • What ‘researcher capability skills’ do I need to be successful at TDR?
  • How to find your Eureka! moment
Samantha Aspinall and Heather Sears
1:30PM Growing and maintaining the TDR community
  • Challenges and opportunities for PGR within TDR research
  • Educating the next generation TDR researchers
Dr Philip Mair
1:50PM An Interactive Discussion Professor Elena Gaura
2:10PM TDR at Coventry University
  • Maturolife
Narinder Bains
2:30PM Closing Debate Professor Elena Gaura
3:00PM Event Close Professor Neil Forbes