Scientific Discovery, Inspired by a Walk to the Restroom

In the push to increase research collaboration, studies try to identify the building-design elements that really matter.

29 silos

Detail from a diagram with a report by a team led by Jason Owen-Smith, an associate professor of sociology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan. Colored lines and shaded areas show the overlap between the walking routes commonly taken by scientists at the university’s Biomedical Sciences Research Building.

Faculty are under increasing pressure to pursue interdisciplinary research. Universities have tried redesigning lab facilities and redrawing departmental lines of authority. Grant-writing agencies have tried setting aside money specifically for collaborative projects.

Could researchers' trips to the bathroom be an opportunity, too?

A new University of Michigan analysis may provide a reason to consider it. The study led by Jason Owen-Smith, an associate professor of sociology