Paper accepted to #SciTS2021!

Sharing a great news – We have a paper accepted to The 12th Annual International Science of Team Science (SciTS) Conference! Congrats to authors Alina Lungeanu, Neelam Modi, Piyush Premchand Kalkute, Leslie DeChurch, and Noshir Contractor.

The conference is virtual and will be live 7-11 June. More information about the conference can be found here.

Please find the title, abstract and citation of the paper below:

Title:Hard to recruit but worth trying: Searching for cross-boundary collaborations in clinical and translational science


Research examining collaboration that produced the greatest scientific breakthroughs highlights boundary-crossing collaboration. By boundaries, we mean disciplines, organizations, cultures, professions, and demographics. Although collaboration has long been important in science, the rapid specialization of knowledge across domains is making collaboration essential. This is especially true in biomedical research.

The National Institutes of Health makes substantial investments to encourage cross-boundary team science in biomedicine. This research project focuses on an exemplar support mechanism, the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program. The CTSA Program is designed to facilitate collaborations between the (laboratory) bench and the (clinical) bedside. In particular, the CTSA’s Pilot Grant program, which provides seed funding to hundreds of teams each year, seeks to incentivize new cross-boundary teams that bring together basic scientists and clinical researchers, junior faculty and experienced mentors, and researchers from different departments or institutions.

 While cross-boundary collaboration in team science has demonstrated benefits, research also suggests they are unlikely to form, and when they do, are prone to coordination costs. Our study seeks to advance the Science of Team Science by understanding the assembly of cross-boundary teams who conduct clinical and translational science. We leverage both social network theories and research on teams to answer two research questions: (1) Do funding investments shift team composition in favor of cross-boundary collaboration? and (2) Which cross-boundary combinations are the most effective?

In this study, we use archival data about researchers submitting proposals to one Midwestern University CTSA’s program between the years of 2014 and 2019. We examine 217 proposal submissions, of which 38 were awarded. This results in 369 researchers listed as investigators on proposals, of whom 302 did not have their proposals awarded, 15 had both awarded and un-awarded proposals, and 53 had awarded proposals. We extract demographics, education and employment information, and department affiliation from the university’s internal database. Additionally, we use publication data from the Web of Science database to construct bibliometric information for the entire population of researchers who submitted grant proposals.

 We use Exponential Random Graph Models to assess factors influencing the assembly and success of grant proposal teams. Preliminary results show that in general cross-boundary collaboration are not likely among teams submitting proposals, but cross-disciplinary collaborations are more likely among the team proposals that were successful. Thus, even though cross-boundary collaboration is widely promoted, researchers are more likely to consort within their own demographics. However, in order to be successful, scientists would benefit by collaborating with different disciplines.


Lungeanu, A., Modi, N., Kalkute, P. P., DeChurch, L. A., & Contractor, N. S. Hard to recruit but worth trying: Searching for cross-boundary collaboration in clinical and translational science. Accepted at the 2021 SciTS Conference. 

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Contractor presented at the IAS International Roundtable on Computational Social Science

This week, Noshir Contractor presented a talk at the Institute for Analytical Sociology International Roundtable on Computational Social Science. The title of his talk is People Analytics: Understanding & Enabling the Future of Work on Earth — and in Space.

If you missed the talk, watch a recording of it here:

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Noshir Contractor at the Vikram Sarabhai Birth Centenary Tribute

Today Noshir Contractor presented a talk on Metatheoretical perspectives on satellite television and development in India: What we learned – and did not learn – from SITE to inform digital media in contemporary India at the Vikram Sarabhai Birth Centenary Tribute.

In 1988, along with Arvind Singhal and Ev Rogers, I co-authored an article titled Metatheoretical perspectives on satellite television and development in India in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. In that article, we analyzed the role and impact of satellite television from four metatheoretical viewpoints: the utopian view that technology is intrinsically good for humankind, the dystopian view that technology is an unmitigated curse, the neutral view that technology per se has no intrinsic effects on society, and the contingency view that the potentially desirable and undesirable impacts of technology are differentially determined by the context in which the technology is introduced at a particular time.

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Contractor’s AAAS Talk featured at Northwestern Now

Despite ending last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2021 Annual Meeting, the scientific discussions during the meeting have a more lasting impact. Check out a recap of Professor Contractor’s talk on team problem-solving in space that’s featured in Northwestern Now. Click here to read more.

ISSMP Flight Analogs HERA Campaign 5/Mission 2 Crew Portraits. Photo Date: May 24, 2019. Location: Building 220 – HERA. Photographer: Robert Markowitz
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Successful Session at the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting

Last Thursday (02/11), Professors Noshir Contractor, Dorothy Carter, and Alexandra Whitmire presented at the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting Scientific Session during the Understanding and Enabling Human Travel to the Moon and Mars panel organized and moderated by Professor Leslie DeChurch. Apart from the presentation, there was a Q&A during the session, with experts from the field, including Suzanne Bell from DePaul University, Jack Stuster from Ancapa Sciences, and Nick Kansas from the University of California, San Francisco.

If you miss the presentation, feel free to check the recording of the session in our videos gallery or by clicking here.

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Noshir Contractor delivered a talk at the SPSP 2021 Preconference

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) is back this year with its annual convention. This year, all of the pre-conference hosted are virtual (a list of all pre-conference can be found here) and our lab director Noshir Contractor was invited to be one of the speakers in the Bringing Intragroup Processes Back to Social Psychologypreconference. This pre-conference includes numerous speakers from various disciplines (i.e. social psychology, management, computer sciences) who studies social interactions within a group (in particular intragroup processes). As the last speaker of the day, Professor Contractor shared his insights on repairing interactions and/or relationships, with a talk titled Teaming in the Time of COVID-19: What Astronaut crews can teach us about “re-pairing” our relationships.


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Contractor at the AAAS 2021 Press Briefing

Today Noshir Contractor, Dorothy Carter and Sandra Whitmire attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2021 Annual Meeting press briefing and discussed topics surrounding science of teams in long distance space exploration. This briefing was conducted prior to their Scientific Session tomorrow on Understanding and Enabling Human Travel to the Moon and Mars, which will be live at 1PM EST.

Session Information:

NASA is preparing to send the first woman and the next man to land on the Moon and then on to Mars. These efforts are leveraging advances in science and engineering to design the complex technology that will take humans on these missions. Yet the one element that scientists cannot design are the humans these rockets will carry. Over the past 6 decades, researchers have made remarkable progress in understanding how humans respond physiologically to, and can mitigate, the extreme conditions in space such as radiation and weightlessness. However, it is only in the past decade that we have begun to understand how humans respond psychosocially to, and can mitigate, the effects of isolated, confined, and extreme environments for long durations. Further, unlike previous space missions, deep space exploration teams will face the ultimate communication barrier: light speed. Delays of up to 22 minutes for a signal to travel from Mars to Earth means messaging “Houston we have a problem” during an emergency is not an option. Hence teams exploring deep space will need to act with an unprecedented level of autonomy while coordinating with “teams of teams” back on earth. This session brings together an interdisciplinary panel of experts all deeply engaged in conducting the science that is helping NASA understand, anticipate and mitigate the effects of deep space exploration on teamwork and its performance on upcoming missions.

Speakers: Tom Williams, Noshir Contractor, and Dorothy Carter

Moderator: Leslie DeChurch

RespondentSuzanne Bell, Jack Stuster, and Nick Kanas

Other Resources:

For more info on the press briefing, click here.

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2021 NASA HRP IWS Recap

Last Thursday (Feb 4, 2021) marks the end of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop Annual Conference. We had a great time sharing some insights from our NASA projects and taking part in the Q&A Sessions. Great work Noshir Contractor, Leslie Cardone DeChurch, Alina Lungeanu and team — and thank you for all of your hard work!

If you miss any of our presentations, please head over to our Videos section to watch the recorded presentations.

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Graduate student Jasmine Wu will be presenting her Research on Network Churn at NASN 2021!

Graduate student Jasmine Wu will be participating in the Third North American Social Networks Conference (NASN). She will be sharing her work on the Enterprise Social Media Project, particularly on Social Network Churn Within and Between Teams in Times of COVID-19. Her presentation touches on network changes happening in a multi-national industrial manufacturing company during COVID-19, with a focus on the differences in response to remote work between high and low performers. 

Don’t forget to check out her presentation this Thursday, 28th January 2021 from 1:30-1:50PM CST. You can tune in to her presentation via this link.



Wu, Y. J., Srinivas, A., Antone, B., DeChurch, L. A., & Contractor, N. S. Social Network Churn Within and Between Teams in Times of COVID-19. Accepted at the Third North American Social Networks Conference.

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