e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Faculty Member Focuses on Collaboration as Presidential Fellow

Yearlong project revolves around Networks of Excellence

Dr. Paul Hirsch of the ESF Department of Environmental Studies is spending the 2014-15 academic year researching and implementing ways to overcome barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration.

The work, which he is doing under a Presidential Fellowship awarded by the Research Foundation for SUNY, involves the university system's Networks of Excellence program. The program aims to bring together SUNY's top scholars and industry experts to encourage research and commercialization in different areas of science.

Hirsch is engaged in the overall coordination between and among the SUNY Networks of Excellence and supports collaboration within and across the networks, assisting with strategic communications and planning.

Hirsch is an assistant professor whose research focuses on the organizational and conceptual challenges of managing complex environmental problems. He joined the ESF faulty in 2011.

In his capacity as a Presidential Fellow, his work includes leading workshops to support interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration. For example, he led a workshop at SUNY Buffalo to help engineers and neuroscientists learn how to work together on projects that touch both their realms. He was invited to speak to the SUNY Research Council about using technology as a tool for collaboration.

"We want to encourage creative thinking across boundaries. We work on figuring out how you get groups of smart people to be smart together," he said. "We're the biggest university system in the world if you take us as a whole. There are a lot of opportunities in that."

The RF's Presidential Fellowship Program provides a core support system to the SUNY Networks of Excellence and a unique opportunity for faculty to influence and actively pursue SUNY's research agenda.

The fellowship program, administered by the RF, focuses on advancing programs to increase research, collaboration and human capital development; enhancing SUNY's research profile and the honoree's scientific career and leadership abilities; and developing faculty perspectives on a broad range of issues. The fellowship provides support such as release time funded by the Research Foundation, salary supplements, sabbatical leaves and summer employment.