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A look at research funded by the Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions

The initiative is dedicated to fostering university-wide interdisciplinary research that takes on significant global challenges.

Mark Horowitz and Jennifer Dionne

Catalyst director Mark Horowitz, left, and Catalyst funding recipient Jennifer Dionne. | Photo by Saul Bromberger

In late 2016, the School of Engineering launched the Stanford Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions, an initiative dedicated to fostering university-wide interdisciplinary research that takes on significant global challenges. Rather than distributing small seed grants, the program provides funding at a level that enables groups of faculty to take bold risks, exploring beyond the traditional boundaries of their scholarship and ultimately moving their research agendas forward in a meaningful way.

Along the way, the Catalyst aspired to become an internationally recognized model of a purposeful, high-impact, and interdisciplinary research ecosystem. It has already informed key components of the university’s Long-Range Vision.

In two rounds of funding, the Catalyst has announced grants totaling approximately $9 million to five teams of researchers. These grants have furthered multidisciplinary research projects by drawing on experts in engineering, humanities and sciences, medicine, business, and law, enabling them to do research they would not have otherwise been able to do. Four of those teams shared their research at an alumni event in October. You can watch them here or below.

Click the “hamburger” icon in the top right corner to choose another talk in the playlist.

Here’s what two faculty members have to say about the Catalyst:

“I am very grateful for the funding and research environment provided by the Stanford Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions. The program allowed us to pursue the kind of high-risk, high-reward, interdisciplinary research that is not readily funded through more traditional sources. Equally important, the program connected us with scholars spanning the schools of Engineering, Medicine, Business, Humanities and Sciences, and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. Extraordinary research is possible when diverse, interdisciplinary teams work together, and the collaborations formed through the Catalyst will enrich my Stanford experience for years to come.”

Jennifer Dionne, associate professor of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering

“The Catalyst program has been incredibly inspiring. It has brought together individuals from throughout Stanford, along with interest from community and industry leaders that would not otherwise have been possible. The initiative is also an important reminder that true interdisciplinary collaboration requires a commitment from researchers from multiple disciplines to spend time with one another, learn each other’s ‘language’ and ways of thinking, and integrate a diverse array of views and areas of expertise. Stronger and more impactful research outcomes are the result of this dedication to working together, and the Catalyst program has provided the essential leadership and resources to make these kinds of vital collaborations a reality.”

Leanne Williams, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the School of Medicine