ECR Net Zero Conference 2024 – UK multidisciplinary research in net zero (ECR Meeting Fund)

Billy Davies (Brunel University London) and Kofo Awodun (Brunel University London) share their takeaways from the parallel session on “UK multidisciplinary research in net zero” at the ECR Net Zero Conference 2024.

Speakers/Facilitators:

  • Carys Blunt – UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC)
  • Nadine Moustafa – Imperial College London & the Industrial Decarbonization Research and Innovation Center (IDRIC)
  • Jen Roberts – University of Strathclyde & UKCCSRC ECR Champion
  • Maud van Soest – The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH)

To achieve net-zero emissions, researchers from across the disciplines must step up to the challenge with a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. At the 2024 ECR Net-zero Conference held at Birmingham, a parallel session led by distinguished researchers shed light on the intricacies of this collaborative effort and the potential it holds for addressing the complex issues surrounding climate change. Let’s delve into the key takeaways and insights garnered from this session.

Jen Roberts kicked off the discussion by delineating the spectrum of collaborative research, ranging from intradisciplinary to transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches. She emphasized the transformative potential of multidisciplinary research, where novel ideas are explored through the integration of diverse perspectives and expertise. This sentiment resonated strongly with the attendees, who recognised the imperative of leveraging various disciplines to tackle the multifaceted challenges of achieving net-zero emissions.

Throughout the session, participants engaged in interactive discussions facilitated by prompts, delving into their personal experiences and perspectives on interdisciplinary research. They shared insights into the benefits and potential costs associated with interdisciplinary collaboration, highlighting the richness that arises from merging different research domains. From exploring the performance of materials like Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) in CO2 capture to addressing broader societal challenges, the necessity of embracing multidisciplinary approaches became evident.

A pivotal moment in the session was the exchange of research ideas within small groups, where participants identified overlapping areas of interest and potential avenues for collaboration. The exploration of topics such as systems engineering, Integration of AI and industry 4.0, underscored the interconnectedness of diverse fields in tackling complex problems like climate change. The session’s interactive nature fostered a vibrant atmosphere conducive to networking and idea generation. Participants seized the opportunity to forge connections and explore areas of collaboration that could catalyse transformative research initiatives. Discussions extended beyond disciplinary boundaries, paving the way for innovative solutions and novel research directions.

Figure 1 – Photograph of researchers interacting and discussing the possibility of multidisciplinary collaboration

As the session drew to a close, participants reflected on how to effectively implement multidisciplinary research strategies and leverage support from networks and funders. The importance of fostering a culture of collaboration and providing resources to facilitate interdisciplinary endeavours emerged as key priorities. In conclusion, the parallel session on multidisciplinary research for net-zero solutions offered invaluable insights into the power of collaborative endeavours in addressing pressing environmental challenges. By harnessing the collective expertise of diverse disciplines, the UK research community is poised to drive meaningful progress towards a sustainable and resilient future. As we embark on this collective journey, let us embrace the spirit of collaboration and innovation to realize our shared vision of a net-zero world.