KI Blog Archive

KI’s Virtual Journey

When going virtual became the new normal in 2020, our clients and potential clients had to confront the core question: “Can teams of scientists work together and be creative online?”

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Accelerating Science With Big Data

Many scientific fields have yet to realize the potential of Big Data. That’s where NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) comes in —
from improving our chances of detecting dark matter to resolving the tree of life. The HDR All-hands meeting brought together principal investigators to share best practices and discuss how to grow the community.

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Big Single-Cell Science

It sounds like science fiction: a searchable Google Maps-like app of the 30 trillion cells of the human body. But, that’s exactly what teams of

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CAREER Workshop Goes Virtual

The decision to go virtual was for organizers of the 2020 NSF Engineering CAREER Proposal Workshop. Sure they’re a group of tech-savvy engineers, but they had never offered a multi-day event online before. Eventually, they decided they needed help with the tech side of things so that could focus on the event and with making their agenda more virtual-friendly. Participants not only reacted positively to the event, almost half said they would prefer a virtual workshop in the future.

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Reducing Opioid Deaths

The State of Connecticut sees a disproportionately high number of opioid-related deaths. In response, UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy held an Ideas Lab to bring together a diverse group of academics and stakeholders to come up with innovative ways to address the problem.

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Breaking Down Silos to Stop COVID-19

Scientists across the country are focused on stopping, treating and developing a vaccine against COVID-19. For those things to happen, the science must go on. But how can researchers collaborate at a time when labs are shutting down and there are restrictions on meeting face-to-face? Researchers at the University of Utah’s Immunology, Inflammation & Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative decided to go virtual — with surprising results.

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You Too Can Go Virtual

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic seems change daily. It’s clear, however, that life as usual is not an option for anyone, including scientists. Researchers

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Beyond the Skin-Pinch Test for Scleroderma

Researchers blame a low-tech skin-pinch test, in part, for the routine failure of potential scleroderma drugs in clinical trials. Modernizing the evaluation of potential drug therapies was the focus of the three-day Scleroderma Diagnosis Sandpit hosted by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK February 26-28, 2020 at the Wellcome Collection in London.

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Rescue Your Scientific Meeting By Going Virtual

Scientific meetings and conferences are being cancelled in response to the spread of COVID-19. How might we keep the science going? Go virtual. KI has been facilitating virtual events since 2018. Our upcoming webinar will show you how we do it and give you the tools to rescue your event.

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Plotting the Course for Systematic Biology

Systematic biologists study and classify the diversity of life on earth. What they do is at the heart of evolutionary biology and, some would argue, biology as a whole. The Society of Systematic Biologists met January 3-6, 2020 at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Their conference, SSB 2020: Systematics in the Swamp, included a KI facilitated workshop to plot a course for the field for the coming decade.

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Remodeling the House of Science

Today’s young scientists are under enormous pressure. Setting up new labs, teaching courses for the first time and conducting publication-worthy research all at the same time can take it’s toll. But, some young researchers are learning about — and putting into practice — collective leadership, which they hope will lead to a much-needed institutional makeover for science.

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Resolving the Tree of Life

Scientists have long used physical traits to shed light on evolutionary relationships. Sometimes this has worked, like using lactation to group mammals. And, sometimes, it hasn’t: people once thought bats were featherless birds! Today, evolutionary biologists rely more heavily on molecular-based phylogenies to resolve relatedness. But, what they haven’t been able to do is address big picture questions about how observable traits (phenotypes) evolve across higher taxa. 

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Biology’s Jupitershots

The Reintegrating Biology workshop series uses KI’s methods of deliberate creativity to identify new research questions that could be addressed by combining approaches and perspectives from different subdisciplines of biology, the key challenges and scientific gaps that must be addressed to answer these questions, and the physical infrastructure and workforce training needed.

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Managing Shifting Marine Species

Our love affair with the ocean runs deep. Humans love to live next to the sea, honeymoon on islands and dream about summer road trips to the beach while tapping away at our keyboards. During lobster and crab season, we enjoy the food, community and culture of the Northeast U.S. Likewise, we celebrate shrimp and red snapper seasons on the Gulf Coast and halibut and salmon seasons in the Pacific Northwest. But, what if those seasons change or don’t come at all?

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How to Catch a Glimpse of Dark Matter

Scientists think that about 25 percent of our universe is made up of stuff you can’t see or feel. They’ve named this non-luminescent mystery material dark matter. Some think dark matter is hot (HDM) while others think its cold (CDM). And, yes, some say – you guessed it – warm (WDM). The cold theory has the most support to date. But, even within camp CDM, physicists don’t agree on what it’s made of. It could be made of WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). Or, appropriately enough, MACHOs. (We’re not making this up!)

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Predicting Human Performance

Scientists have been grappling with the problem of predicting human performance for years. They know that a better understanding of human performance would allow us to do everything from improving the well-being of medical students to changing the way athletes train, perform and recover.  Now, a wealth of new technology is promising to fundamentally change our basic understanding of human performance and pave the way for a variety of applications that will increase our health, safety, and productivity.

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The Trilemma Challenge: Food, Health & Ecosystem

Feeding the planet in the 21st century means doubling production of food, feed, fuel and energy while at the same time making food systems sustainable, inclusive and more efficient. It’s a food-health-ecosystem trilemma. CSU researchers are forming interdisciplinary teams in order to come up with innovative ways of meeting the challenge.

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Getting Smart in the Sandpit

After facilitating many a Sandpit (aka Ideas Lab) for academic researchers, we wondered if our methodology might work for a development problem? Inclusive Innovation was born to find out. Here’s what we learned.

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The Language of Creativity

Every type of science has a robust language of its own, rife with acronyms and jargon that make for efficient communication amongst peers within the field but can be confusing, misleading or off-putting to people from other disciplines. This raises our attention to the fact of how much we rely on language to convey meaning, and that if we don’t have a shared understanding, it’s harder to work together and collaborate creatively.

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Walk this Way

Walking, it seems, is now a tested method for coming up with creative ideas. It probably doesn’t surprise you that standing up and stretching your legs and getting some aerobic activity to move your blood around might help your brain to conjure up more options. But now there’s research from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education to back up what was up until now intuitive or anecdotal: Taking a walk can yield more ideas than sitting in your chair thinking.

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Connect and Catalyze

The team of mentors – there can between three to five at an Ideas Lab – usually represents a range of different academic perspectives that have some bearing on the question that’s central to the event. Their expertise is essential, but an equally important attribute for a mentor is to be ambitious about the science, intensely curious about the topic of the workshop, and adept at giving feedback, without being directive. This is the critical bit: they have to stay neutral and avoid getting tangled up in the ideas or too engaged in the participant groups.

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