Developing Student Collaborations Across Disciplines, Distances, and Institutions

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Because quantitative biology requires skills and concepts from a disparate collection of different disciplines, the scientists of the near future will increasingly need to rely on collaborations to produce results. Correspondingly, students in disciplines impacted by quantitative biology will need to be taught how to create and engage in such collaborations. In response to this important curricular need, East Tennessee State University and Georgia Technological University/Emory University cooperated in an unprecedented curricular experiment in which theoretically oriented students at East Tennessee State designed biophysical models that were implemented and tested experimentally by biomedical engineers at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Technological University and Emory University. Implementing the collaborations between two institutions allowed an assessment of the student collaborations from before the groups of students had met for the first time until after they had finished their projects, thus providing insight about the formation and conduct of such collaborations that could not have been obtained otherwise.