This is first in a series of blog posts looking at People and Projects funded by the AHRC Science in Culture Theme.

The first post is a question and answer feature with Principal investigator Dr Mark Maltby, from the AHRC Large Grant ‘Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human- Chicken Interactions’

1. What excites you about the Large Grant project?

To have the opportunity to work within a very interdisciplinary and collaborative project, and to be able to engage in large-scale research, that will not only produce substantial academic results, but that also has wide cultural and public impact.

2. How is the project developing? What are you looking forward to working on over the next 3 years? 

We have already had several very successful team meetings which have got our research off to an excellent start and ensured interaction and discussion between all project members from the very beginning. We are looking forward to seeing how the emerging data and research will direct out understanding of past and present human-chicken relationships, and we are eagerly anticipating identifying geographic and temporal patterns in the spread and exploitation of chickens across the world.

3. Can you explain how your project will be transformative?

The project will not only transform our knowledge of how chickens came to be one of our most important domestic animals, and the methods by which this occurred, but also has the ability to inform decision making within our modern chicken economy via research into DNA and genetic developments and variations. This will contribute to our current understanding of food security and disease management.

4. What do you think are the key challenges for researchers working between Sciences and Arts and Humanities? 

It is essential that both sides direct and shape the other’s research rather than one leading the other. It is important to ensure that researchers understand results and information that originate from disciplines outside of their usual expertise – rather than just seeing the end product/conclusions- in order to develop fully integrated research that benefits from a diversified area of specialisms.

 6. How did you start collaborating across disciplines?

Interdisciplinary research was initiated through recognition of the fact that no research project stands entirely in isolation. Chickens are as much part of our modern world as they are of our past. For us, recognition of the need to integrate modern anthropological work with archaeological and scientific research ensured that contacts were sought in a diverse range of areas.

7. How did you put together your current interdisciplinary research team? Do you have any tips for other researchers interested in working across disciplines?

There is nothing better than networking. Our project  has expanded by colleagues who we had already worked with on other projects getting us into contact with mutual connections. Make the most of your contacts, and resultantly the contacts that they have. Attend conferences or events that approach your topic from a different perspective.  Such insights can be very valuable for forging interdisciplinary contacts and collaboration.

The Science in Culture Theme is a key area of AHRC Funding and supports projects committed to developing reciprocal relationships between scientists and arts and humanities researchers.

Follow us on twitter @AHRCSciculture for updates from the Theme.