Interdisciplinary and community-engaged research essential to solve complex global challenges

15 February 2018

Leading UK anthropologist and social/interdisciplinary scientist Professor Melissa Leach will present at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), February 15 – 19, 2018 in Austin, Texas, along with a UK Research and Innovation delegation of UK researchers highlighting some of the UK's most recent scientific breakthroughs.

Professor Melissa Leach, Director of the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton, will be speaking on ‘Connecting Disciplines and Engaging Societal Partners and Communities’ in the panel ‘Building Research Capacity as a Critical Component of International Development’, emphasising the growing importance of interdisciplinary and community-engaged research in responding to complex global challenges, such as epidemics and climate change.

Professor Melissa Leach, says: “To tackle the world’s pressing and complex challenges natural and social scientists need to work together. 

“To be effective, research must be transdisciplinary and include the often overlooked knowledge and practise of local communities who live the problems we are trying to solve.

“During the Ebola crisis, social science, mobilised in real-time,  was crucial to taking account of customs and practices, such as burials, and in developing a respectful response, overcoming the local resistance that early international responders faced.”

The panel session Building Research Capacity as a Critical Component of International Development is on 17 February at 8.30am to 9.30am (GMT-6).

Follow the UK Research and Innovation delegation using the hashtags #AAASmtg #UKatAAAS

For a full programme see:  

Any requests for interview with Melissa Leach should contact or call IDS communications on +44 (0)7701 286 978.


Notes to editors

  • The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global institution for development research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex.  See  for more information.
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting 2018, convenes leading scientists, educators, policymakers, and journalists to discuss cutting-edge developments in science, technology, and policy.
  • Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. Research England will work closely with its partner organisations in the devolved administrations.