Researcher Realities - Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Researchers share how they got interdisciplinary collaborations off the ground in video recordings from the Researcher Realities launch event in May 2023.

Dr Chiara Bonacchi (Chancellor’s Fellow, School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh).

Dr Chiara Bonacchi is Chancellor’s Fellow in Heritage, Text and Data Mining and Senior Lecturer in Heritage. Her research focuses on investigating the intersection between contemporary experiences and public uses of the past, identity building, social change and politics in the digital age. Her most recent book, Heritage and Nationalism: Understanding populism through big data (2022), is the first to leverage millions of social media data points to examine the ways in which people’s understanding of the pre-modern past shape political identities. Recent projects include a UKRI grant exploring present-day values associated with the Iron Age and Roman past of Britain (2016-19) and a Follow-on for impact and engagement award entitled Co-producing Tolerant Futures through Ancient Identities (2022). She is the co-founder of the MicroPasts platform for heritage crowdsourcing.


Prof Catherine Lyall (Professor of Science and Public Policy, University of Edinburgh).

Catherine Lyall is Professor of Science and Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh where, despite a first degree in chemistry, she holds a position in the School of Social and Political Science. Her career at Edinburgh has progressed from part-time Research Officer to Personal Chair via numerous research contracts within grant-funded research centres, a period as Associate Dean for Research Careers and as a previous Head of the Science, Technology and Innovation subject group. She has a particular interest in the institutionalisation of interdisciplinarity and the impact this has on research careers.


Dr Adrian Muwonge (Chancellor’s Fellow, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh).

Dr Adrian Muwonge is a Chancellor’s Fellow based at Roslin Institute; as a molecular epidemiologist, his interests are in how One Health is operationalised, especially in the Global South. His 10-year research career includes roles with global policy, technology scouting in biopharma, digital infrastructure development and grant-funded academic research as a BBSRC Discovery Fellow, MRC, NIHR & The Royal Society as a principal investigator. He is also a Co-Director of a capacity-building Fellowship programme funded by the Fleming Fund for Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. He moved to Edinburgh in 2013 after completing his PhD in Molecular Epidemiology of Tuberculosis; he has since been involved in research collaborations spanning ten disciplines on three continents, i.e. Physicians, veterinarians, social scientists, and bioethics, Software Engineers, Biopharma, Farmers, Haulage drivers and Policymakers.


Dr David Overend (Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies, Moray House, University of Edinburgh).

Dr David Overend is a researcher in interdisciplinary education, creative fieldwork and contemporary theatre and performance. As a director, he has worked for the National Theatre of Great Britain and several other theatres, and has toured internationally with award-winning productions. David's books include Performance in the Field: Interdisciplinary practice-as-research (Palgrave Macmillan 2023), Making Routes: Journeys in Performance 2010-2020, co-authored with Laura Bissell (Triarchy Press 2021), and an edited collection, Rob Drummond: Plays with Participation (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2021). He is currently working with Edinburgh Futures Institute, developing a portfolio of new undergraduate courses and programmes.


Interdisciplinary Collaborations, Q&A


Further Resources

Pathways to Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research: The SHAPE-ID Toolkit

Toolkit [external link]

Lyall, Catherine, Being an Interdisciplinary Academic: How Institutions Shape University Careers (Palgrave, 2019).

Being an Interdisciplinary Academic [external link]

You can learn more about Dr David Overend’s interdisciplinary research and collaborations by listening and reading the following

Veterinary Studies Interview with Dr David Overned.

“Creating Edinburgh: The Interdisciplinary City”

"Crossing disciplinary lines: What is interdisciplinary learning really like?” Teaching Matters Blog

Woollen, Emily, Interdisciplinary Research: Making the Most of Opportunities and Navigating the Challenges for Early Career Researchers (IAD Guide).

Interdisciplinary Research Guide

Resources and information about interdisciplinary research, Edinburgh Research Office

ERO Interdisciplinary Research webpage