I'm at the Experimental Biology meetings in Boston and yesterday I dropped into a session on "Training the Mind of an Interdisciplinary Scientist." There were talks on how to resolve disputes among member of the interdisciplinary team, and on how to choose a problem that your customers want solved (from an engineer). There are was also a talk from the University of Missouri-Kansas City about their graduate program. Every single graduate student has to choose an interdisciplinary problem for their thesis topic and they have to take a half dozen courses in each of two disciplines (at least).
The only experience I've had with being interdisciplinary is when I tried to understand what computer scientists were interested in and whether we could work together on some problems. We couldn't. The gap was too large. So biochemists have just adopted the tools and techniques of computational sciences and moved on.
Very few of my colleagues are doing interdisciplinary research and they seem to be getting along just fine. Is this whole "interdisciplinary" thing just a fad? Do you know anyone whose main area of investigation spans two distinct disciplines?
I got the distinct impression from the session that there's pressure from university administrations and granting agencies to become interdisciplinary. Is this true?