SciTS 2019 caps a decade of growth for the Team Science community

The Team Science field hit a milestone in May 2019, as the annual International Science of Team Science (SciTS) Conference was held in Lansing, MI.

Lansing MI state capitol

Michigan State University played host to a diverse gathering of people united by an interest in expanding the base of knowledge and evidence about what makes science teams successful. In attendance were researchers, administrators, policymakers, and others representing academia, industry, and governments from around the world. 

“It was a fantastic introduction to this field and community,” said one attendee in the conference feedback survey.

Across three and a half days, attendees chose from more than 35 workshops, panels, and interactive sessions covering everything from high level Team Science theory to practical tools and case studies for implementation. There was also significant space and time given to perspectives from the arts, humanities, and science communication domains.

“I enjoyed sinking in to learning what others are doing,” another attendee said. “There was a strong sense of community that was rejuvenating personally and professionally.”

Indigenous Approaches to Team Science panel SciTS 2019One highlight was a unique plenary panel: “Indigenous Approaches to Team Science,” with Henry Lickers, a scientist with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne in Canada, and Jimmie Mitchell, Director of Natural Resources for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Illinois, moderated by Dr. Kyle Whyte of MSU.

The chairs were arranged in concentric circles with the speakers at the center, creating an inclusive and participatory dynamic as the panelists discussed how their approach to scientific collaboration is informed by modern techniques and thousands of years of tradition.

“This session was an invaluable opportunity to hear perspectives that are not commonly represented in academic conferences,” said one attendee.

Another added that the panel “illuminated a number of assumptions about the nature of science, its relation to communities, and what counts as valuable ways of understanding the world.”

Throughout the conference, plenary panels featured leading thinkers in the SciTS field, including Lindred Greer of Stanford University, John Hollenbeck and Dan Ilgen of Michigan State, Steve Fiore of the University of Central Florida, Sanford Eigenbrode of the University of Idaho, Kara Hall of the National Cancer Institute, Amanda Vogel of NIH, and Julie Thompson Klein of Wayne State University, among many others.

Plenary panel topics included "Agency Approaches to Team Science," with representatives from NIH and NSF, "The Science of Groups and Teams," and "Integrating Team Science with Health Science Research and Practice." A team from the University of Michigan shared their transdisciplinary work on the Flint, Michigan water crisis and extrapolated lessons for the broader SciTS community.

The conference keynote speaker was Dr. Joy Balls-Berry of the Mayo Clinic, who shared insights on human bias from her career studying approaches to community-engaged research.

For many, the most valuable aspect of the conference was building new SciTS networks and reconnecting with old friends and collaborators.

“I made some new connections and heard from luminaries about the future direction of the field.”

In addition to capping off a decade of International SciTS Conferences, this event was noteworthy in another respect, as it was the first to be hosted by the International Network for the Science of Team Science (INSciTS), a professional association formed in 2018 for Team Science practitioners, scholars, administrators, and others whose work or interests align with the broad SciTS field. Learn about the benefits of membership in INSciTS here.

The next conference will be hosted by Duke University and held in Durham, North Carolina, June 1-4, 2020. To learn more and save the date, visit inscits.org.