Could you explain your work as a Gluon Researcher?
I am involved in the SPRING Consortium which focuses on urban inequalities, specifically health inequalities and wellbeing. There are many disciplines that work towards the same goal when it comes to this topic, from citizens and researchers to practitioners and entrepreneurs. All these different are highly knowledgeable on issues related to health and well-being but are focused on their own little compartments. We all want to find a joined solution to move forward. When we stay in our own corners, we risk creating blind spots simply because we are not exposed to each other’s knowledge and work. My job as a Gluon is to experiment with various methods to bring different parties, and their knowledge, to work together so our solutions can have a much bigger impact.
As a trailblazer, how would you say the Gluon role differs from more traditional academic research roles?
I think a major difference is that there is no benchmark, since the work has not been done before. There is no practical example, toolkit or reference that can help you to say “Ok, if I face this type of challenge, then this would be a solution.” It is a very experimental role, an open game that is highly dependent on context. While that can be challenging at times, there is a lot of value in the process. As you grow and learn to navigate the uncertainty, you start to find yourself within the role which is so satisfying because you truly steered through the complex setting yourself.
What advice would you give to aspiring gluons who seek to make a similar impact in their respective domains?
To anyone who’s looking to be a Gluon in the future, be patient and try and fail until you get it right. While the role is new and at times a little scary, there is also one huge advantage; experimentation is part of the job. Failing is literally part of the job description – as uncomfortable as it sounds. So, better to try and fail, than fail to try. That is the beauty of it. I would advise anyone to take full advantage of that freedom to find new ways and solutions. As I mentioned earlier, often knowledge integration is merely an afterthought. By actively working on the integration during the process we have an opportunity to create greater impact in the work that is being done. The Gluon puts theory into action in a meaningful way, and that is the value we add to the whole knowledge ecosystem.