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New Team Science Leadership Program aims to form new collaborations among mid-career faculty

BY Shelby Lawson
The 2023 Team Leadership Science Program cohort

The 2023 Team Leadership Science Program cohort / L. Brian Stauffer and Fred Zwicky

The Team Science Leadership Program is a new program being offered by the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, consisting of a series of workshops that bring together faculty from all over campus. The workshops are tailored to mid-career faculty, and focus on leadership training, communication skills, networking, and community building. The ultimate goal of the program is to empower faculty to develop new research ideas and collaborations, particularly between disciplines that might otherwise never have the opportunity to interact.

“Nationwide there is increasing interest in focusing on the professional development of mid-career faculty, and this program addresses this need for our faculty from the unique perspective of multi-disciplinary team science, which is the IGB’s calling card,” said IGB Director Gene Robinson.

James O’Dwyer, an associate professor of plant biology and the Director of Graduate Studies, was the driving force behind the program’s creation. O’Dwyer explained that after the COVID-19 pandemic, many faculty, especially those new to the university or that recently received tenure, were eager to renew pre-pandemic connections and build new ones with other departments and IGB themes. The TSLP was formed to bring people together and connect faculty from different disciplines across the campus.

“This program builds on what the IGB does best—team science at a large scale—to develop new skillsets among our mid-career faculty,” said O’Dwyer. “We hope that the program will help build community and enhance the leadership skillsets among our faculty, forming the next generation of leaders in team science at the IGB and Illinois.”

O’Dwyer organized a few preliminary TSLP workshops along with Robinson in Spring 2023 to gauge interest and collect feedback from participants. After a successful trial run, the TSLP was established as a certificate program for the IGB, which will begin workshop sessions Fall 2023.   

The workshops will be led by experts who will discuss different aspects of team science, including how to create a healthy and productive team, crafting proposals that highlight a team’s strengths, and building effective teamwork skills. Experts include experienced faculty on campus, alongside program officers from federal agencies, private foundations, and other professions working in team science.

The format of the workshops will vary based on the topic, but usually workshops will involve smaller group discussions followed by larger conversations between the whole group, said O’Dwyer. At the end of the year-long program, participants will receive a certificate. The program already has 15 participants registered for this year’s cohort.

“James has done an outstanding job of assembling a program of topics and experts that participants should find to be very educational and engaging,” said Robinson. “We look forward to learning about their experiences as we seek to make this program available for the long-term.”

The program is open to IGB affiliated faculty that are either associate professors or recently promoted full professors. The first workshop of the year will be held on September 22 at noon in 612 IGB. For more information about the upcoming program, visit

The 2023 cohort consists of:

Christopher Brooke (IGOH)
Department of Microbiology

Julian Catchen (CIS/GNDP)
Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Hee Jung Chung (M-CELS)
Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Katy Heath (IGOH)
Department of Plant Biology

Hannah Holscher (CAIM/MME)
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz (GSP)
Department of Political Science

James O'Dwyer (CAIM)
Department of Plant Biology

Rebecca Smith (IGOH)
Department of Pathobiology

Amy Wagoner Johnson (EIRH/RBTE)
Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering

Hua Wang (RBTE)
Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Wendy Yang (CABBI/GEGC)
Department of Plant Biology

Anthony Yannarell (IGOH)
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

Dave Zhao (GNDP)
Department of Statistics

Ruoqing Zhu (CGD)
Department of Statistics

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