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Collaboration of Soloists Makes the Best Science


Duke University's J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering Adrian Bejan

Duke University Professor Adrian Bejan says solitary investigators will flourish even as major universities tend to create large research groups to address a particular problem.

Duke University

For the success of a major research university, which is better: large, well-funded laboratory empires with many investigators working toward the same end, or the individual scientist toiling alone in his own laboratory or at his own desk?

According to a novel theory by a Duke University engineer, the optimum situation appears to be a balance between the "many" and the "one." Institutions benefit the most from the co-existence of large groups that self-organize naturally and lone scientists coming up with new ideas.

The researcher, Adrian Bejan, J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, argues that while the trend at major universities is the creation of large research groups focused on a particular problem, the individual researcher will not disappear. His analysis, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, appears in the December issue of the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics.

From Duke University
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