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Krisztina "Z" Holly is the vice provost for innovation at the University of Southern California and executive director for the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation. She leads a team of[…]

In order to solve problems like global warming, collaboration is key.

Question: How can we stop the concealing of research in rnacademia? 

Krisztina Holly: It is an interesting rnchallenge that in order to motivate people to excel and do things, it’s rnpart of human nature that there needs to be some sort of incentive. So rnin the market economy it’s very much based on financial rewards. In rnacademia it is very much based on reputation and so either way there is rncompetition. I do think in academia it’s much more collaborative, so I rnthink that although people can criticize academics at times for holding rnback certain research results—and it’s not ideal, it’s not optimal—at rnthe same time I do think that there is a real sense of collaboration andrn the desire to create great results together. But I do think that we do rnhave to be collaborating more and we are collaborating more. A perfect rnexample is the Human Genome project. That would not have come together rnunless you had many universities and researchers that came together to rnwork for the greater good on this project and ultimately it was clear rnwho the big contributors were. It’s really a part of the whole ethic is rnto try to be able to track that, but there are challenges because if rnyou’re starting to bring together lots of other people you know you wantrn to make sure that we maintain that ethic for providing acknowledgment rnto the people who contribute. 

We have lots of big challenges rnahead of us, whether it is trying to reduce the cost of solar energy or rntrying to deliver clean water to the whole world or renewable energy in rngeneral and global warming. All of these things are going to really needrn to have large collaborations and I don’t know that we’ve completely rnfigured that out yet. It’s just a prediction that it will cause some rnpressure and some challenges for universities because right now, rnespecially the larger elite universities they have large research rnenterprises that they can build on and they can build on their rnreputation by bringing more research or dollars, and to be doing more rnexciting research. At the same time if universities are collaborating rnmore on programs then the universities will maybe be asking themselves: rn"How do we preserve our brand?" Because brand is important in that rncollaboration. So individual universities need to have a value rnproposition so that it is not just a place where faculty sit and get a rnpaycheck. Faculty can take their research and they can move to another rnplace, so it will put more pressure on universities to ensure that rnthey’re doing their jobs and creating that innovative environment that rnenables people to collaborate and work together. That is really one of rnthe huge values of universities and a place like USC, we’ve been around rnfor almost 130 years... absolutely integral to the local community and rnalso within our own we’ve built up this faculty over the years. And thatrn enables us to get the absolute best students to come through. So it’s rnbased on a real foundation and as an example we just need to make sure rnthat we maintain that and we keep growing and we keep increasing that orrn else we’re not going to be relevant.
Recordedrn on May 6, 2010