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Transdisciplinary Approaches Webinar Series (2023)

Join us for a new webinar series highlighting opportunities and challenges of transdisciplinary approaches within agricultural research. Many of the problems facing agriculture are multifaceted, and traditional disciplinary boundaries may limit our ability to address them. Additionally, agricultural research has broad implications, affecting economics, social dynamics, and the environment. Transdisciplinary approaches is a critical tool for tackling agronomic issues. It can address complex challenges that single-disciplinary approaches are not able to solve, increase the likelihood of new practice adoption, and avoid potential unintended consequences of more narrowly investigated findings.

The increased need for large-scale solutions to complex agricultural problems has led to new, large-scale funding opportunities that require applicants to develop transdisciplinary research proposals that tackle program priorities in new ways. However, because of the novel nature of transdisciplinary approaches and challenges associated with transdisciplinary research, adoption of these practices and teams is limited.

This webinar series is targeted at researchers to better understand strategies for implementing transdisciplinary approaches, team building, and overcoming challenges, and university administrators to better support novel transdisciplinary teams and their research.

August 30, 2023. Transdisciplinary Approaches: What They Are and Why They’re Important

The first webinar in the Transdisciplinary Approaches series looked at what transdisciplinary approaches are and why they matter.

Researchers engaged with transdisciplinary work, institutions that support research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, and funding opportunities for transdisciplinary programs.

PowerPoint presentations are available by request.


Alison Meadow

Alison M. Meadow is an Associate Research Professor in the Office of Societal Impact at University of Arizona. Dr. Meadow has a background in environmental anthropology, Indigenous studies, and urban planning. Her research focuses on the process of linking scientists with decision makers to improve the usability of climate science, with a particular emphasis on evaluating the societal impacts of engaged climate and environmental research. She is a co-investigator with the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) and the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS).

Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson is Director of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) program and Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. A human-environment geographer, Dan contributes to and leads inter- and transdisciplinary teams that conduct place-based, problem-oriented environmental research. His teaching focuses on helping undergraduate and graduate students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to work on complex environmental problems in highly collaborative contexts. The overarching goal of his work is cooperative development of relevant and useful knowledge to prepare for and respond to societal problems related to environmental change.

Douglas Steele

Dr. Steele is Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Through collaborative partnerships with over 250 member institutions Doug provides leadership with a focus on broad cross-cutting issues related to agriculture, food and fiber, forestry, human sciences, natural resources, and veterinary medicine. Priority areas include advocating yearly on behalf of the agricultural research, extension, and education funding in support of land-grant and non-land-grant colleges of agriculture, life sciences and natural resources. Doug believes in the power of public higher-education and the Land-Grant University system to provide access and affordability to higher education, increase the profitability of agricultural enterprises and transform families, youth, and communities.

Amy Ganguli

Dr. Amy Ganguli serves as a National Program Leader within the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment providing leadership for programs involving sustainable agroecosystem management. Prior to joining NIFA, Amy spent nearly 12 years as a teaching and research professor of rangeland ecology and three years as an ecosystem ecologist for a non-profit organization. She has conducted research on a variety of rangeland restoration techniques and has led several interdisciplinary projects addressing land management effects on ecosystem services, rangeland/soil health with specific emphasis on land potential, and climate change with an emphasis on resilience based management strategies. She received her Ph.D. in Range Ecology from Oklahoma State University, M.S. in Range Science from Texas Tech University, and a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Management from the University of Rhode Island.

December 6, 2023. Transdisciplinary Approaches: The Science of Team Science

Working on teams employing transdisciplinary approaches presents many challenges.

In the second webinar in the Transdisciplinary Approaches series, speakers will share information about the keys to the success of complex teams and highlight the role of team function in large-scale projects.

PowerPoint presentations are available by request.


Jeni Cross

Dr. Cross is a professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Colorado State University. She has been the director of the Team Science Core for the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute since 2018. She has developed a series of team science competency workshops that focus on building individual and team collaboration competencies for translational and transdisciplinary teams. Dr Cross and her team at the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences have been on the forefront of creating training, interventions, and assessments for transdisciplinary science teams since 2015. Her research on team science has been published in a variety of journals, books and encyclopedias across myriad disciplines.

Dr. Cross specializes in studying complex teams and the processes of systemic and transformational change. Her research is published in over a dozen fields of science and her TED talk on Behaviour Change has been adopted by dozens of courses across the globe. She is regularly called on to provide coaching and expertise to large, international team science projects and institutes working on diverse subjects from public health to biology to machine learning to urban sustainability.

Anne Mook

Dr. Mook is a senior team scientist at the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRISS) at Colorado State University. In the field of team science, she specializes in evaluations and ecosystem needs assessment. In her role at the IRISS, Anne works with and in interdisciplinary teams. Her primary roles within these teams include 1) Survey design to assess connectivity in the network and team effectiveness, 2) Interviews and focus groups, 3) Data analysis and interpretation, 4) Consultations to guide teams to improve based on the survey, social network, and interview findings, and 5) Workshops on the best practices in interdisciplinary and international science collaborations.

In addition to team science, Anne has worked on numerous interdisciplinary environment-related research projects. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including Forest Policy and Economics, Rural Sociology, Sustainable Development, the Journal of Rural Studies, Business Strategy and Development, and Business Strategy and the Environment.

March 13, 2024. Lessons Learned from Teams Using Transdisciplinary Approaches

What do effective transdisciplinary approaches look like in practice? What kinds of systems, tools, and aspects of team culture contribute to successful transdisciplinary efforts? In this webinar, Hailey Wilmer (ARS), Greta Landis (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and their collaborators will dig deeper into how teams have implemented transdisciplinary approaches. Specifically, Hailey and co-authors will summarize methodological lessons from three recent collaborative rangeland projects addressing adaptive management, biodiversity-livelihood intersections, and climate resilience. Greta Landis (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and colleagues will share strategies for transdisciplinary project management, leadership, and evaluation using lessons-learned from current projects in NIFA’s Sustainable Agriculture Systems (SAS) program.



Greta Landis

Greta Landis is an Evaluation & Research Specialist who has worked in agroecosystems for over 15 years as a researcher, student, and farmhand. Her graduate research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated beef cattle grazing for habitat management on Wisconsin public grasslands and the decision-making processes in successful conservation partnerships. At the Natural Resources Institute, she and her colleagues provide evaluation services for local and national programs in environmental education, farmer training, conservation monitoring, land management, and transdisciplinary agricultural research. Greta can be reached at

Hailey Wilmer

Hailey Wilmer is a Research Rangeland Management Specialist at the USDA-ARS Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research Unit in Dubois, Idaho. Originally from southwest, Montana, Hailey is a former high school agriculture teacher and completed her MS and PhD in rangeland ecosystem science at Colorado State University. Prior to joining the US Sheep Experiment Station staff in 2021, Hailey worked at the USDA-ARS in Fort Collins and as a social scientist with the US Forest Service in Juneau.  Her current research questions include: What are the long-term effects of grazing, climate, and other disturbances on high elevation rangeland plant communities? How can researchers and managers work together to conduct useful and useable science? How do ranchers and managers make sense of the complex systems they manage? Can mainstream science integrate local knowledge to support ranching livelihoods, biodiversity, and food production? Hailey can be reached at:

May 29, 2024. Tribal Research Partnerships: Indigenous Agroforestry, Food Security and Sovereignty

The fourth webinar in the series highlights opportunities and challenges of transdisciplinary approaches within Tribal agroforestry and food security research. The panel includes a diversity of Tribal, Academic, Non-Governmental Organization, and US Department of Agriculture transdisciplinary research approaches, how and in what ways this research is serving tribal communities, and overcoming challenges. Panelists share information about what processes foster success among research partnership teams, and highlight the role of partners in large-scale projects.


Jennifer Sowerwine

Jennifer Sowerwine is an associate professor of cooperative extension in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, co-founder of the Karuk Tribe-UC Berkeley Collaborative and affiliated faculty at the Berkeley Food Institute. Her research and extension programs engage diverse stakeholders across the food system to examine barriers and co-create solutions to achieve healthy, equitable, culturally relevant, and sustainable food systems under changing climate conditions. In partnership with Tribes, immigrant, and urban communities, she examines the cultural politics of resource access and governance, and the relationship between bio-cultural diversity, food security, food sovereignty, and health.

Vikki Preston

Vikki is a Karuk, Yurok, Paiute, Pit River auntie, artist, and community member. She lives in the area of Perch Creek, in the larger town known as Orleans; or Panamniik, California. Vikki grew up in and around Orleans and has lived mostly at Red Cap Creek where her grandparents have their home. She works as a Cultural Resources Technician at the Karuk Department of Natural Resources, a job which incorporates archeology and traditional ecological knowledge to resource management. Much of her work is to restore cultural burning practices to Karuk Aboriginal Territory. Vikki holds a Masters of Arts in Environment and Community from Humboldt State University.

Heather Rickard

Heather is the Coordinator for the Pírish Plants Division for the Karuk Tribe where she is part of building Plants-related restoration and monitoring capacity with collaborators. She has been involved in the Klamath Basin Food Security Initiative, prescribed fire effects monitoring, and K-12 Environmental Education on behalf of the Karuk Tribe. Heather holds a Masters of Natural Resources, Cal Poly Humboldt, Department of Forestry, Fire and Rangeland Management, with a research focus on legacy hardwood mortality following low intensity Rx fire.

Kathy McCovey

Kathy is a Karuk cultural practitioner, former Forest Service archaeologist and forest ecologist, now serving as an Executive Director for the Mid Klamath Watershed Council and project collaborator with the Karuk Tribe-U.C Berkeley Collaborative.

Stephanie Gutierrez

Stephanie Gutierrez (San Carlos Apache, she/her) is Forest & Community Program Director for Ecotrust. Stephanie works closely with Tribes across the Pacific Northwest to center community-engaged decision making and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in forest planning and management. She also leads a growing body of work around Tribal Forestry Workforce Development, Indigenous Science and Forests education, and Indigenous Agroforestry. At the root of her work, Stephanie is dedicated to increasing access, representation, and decision-making power for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and Women, non-binary, and two-spirit individuals in Forestry.

Frank Lake

Frank Kanawha Lake is a Research Ecologist, and the Tribal Liaison/Climate Change contact for the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service. His research involves wildland fire effects, indigenous knowledge, tribal agroforestry, Climate Change, and ethno-ecology. His current focus is on Indigenous Knowledge data governance regarding the Co-production of Knowledge for research and resource management. Frank is of mixed Native American and European ancestry, being raised with and identifying more with his Karuk and Yurok family’s heritage in Northwestern California.