Finding the right research collaborator may sound like a simpler task than finding, say, a life partner, but for researchers looking to forge connections between Cornell's Ithaca and New York City campuses, it can help to have a well-connected liaison to make introductions and facilitate the process.
So a new matchmaking service -- strictly for professional matches, of course -- is a key feature at the recently designed intercampus initiatives Web site at http://intercampusaffairs.cornell.edu/.
The service, one of a host of resources at the site, allows interested researchers to enter information about their work and expertise, as well as about what they're looking for in a collaborator. Caren Heller, assistant dean for intercampus initiatives and assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Stephen Kresovich, vice provost for the life sciences on the Ithaca campus, then work with colleagues on both campuses to brainstorm appropriate matches, arrange meetings and help with the logistics of working across a 250-mile divide.
The setup is designed to help researchers who know exactly what they want in a collaborator, said Heller, as well as those who think a cross-disciplinary perspective on their work could yield interesting results -- but aren't quite sure what those results might be.
"There's more and more thinking that breakthroughs and discoveries are going to happen at the interface of the disciplines," said Heller. "So to be at the interface, you have to have studied all the disciplines, or you have to build collaborations with researchers in other fields."
On a broader scale, the Web site includes links to ongoing intercampus initiatives and core facilities on both campuses, library and data archive sites, and facilities that can help with drug and technology development. On the logistical side, researchers and students can find housing and transportation suggestions, as well as help with scheduling videoconferences and accessing wireless networks on both campuses.
And if a piece of information is missing from the site, Heller said, users can pick up the phone.
"The procedures [for managing cross-campus logistics] can seem confusing the first go-round," Heller acknowledged. "The key thing is, the site gives the name of a person on each campus to contact with questions. That person is there to help."
The intercampus Web site, meanwhile, is just one piece of a wider site -- http://www.cornell.edu/visiting/nyc/intercampusCollab.cfm -- that offers information about Ithaca-New York collaborations in fields from industrial and labor relations, law and finance to program evaluation and ornithology.