Michigan State University
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Michael O'Rourke

Interim Director
Professor of Philosophy & AgBioResearch

Michael O’Rourke is Director of the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, a research initiative sponsored by the National Science Foundation that investigates philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research. For most of his career, he has engaged in interdisciplinary research, and he is currently pursuing an active research agenda that emphasizes the philosophy of interdisciplinarity. He has published extensively on the topics of communication, interdisciplinary theory and practice, and robotic agent design.

Stephanie Vasko

Managing Director

Stephanie Vasko is currently a Research Associate and the Program Manager for the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI), a research effort housed in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. She also is among the first cohort of Fellows for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Community Engagement Fellows Program. During her fellowship year, which began in January, she has worked on strengthening communication and collaboration within the TDI community, as well as developed new approaches for TDI workshop offerings. Within TDI, Vasko helps teams and groups develop their collaborative capacity and internal communication.

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Marisa Rinkus

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marisa Rinkus holds a PhD in Fisheries and Wildlife with a focus on Human Dimensions and specializations in Gender, Justice & Environmental Change and International Development. Her research and teaching centers on how power and agency influence participation in natural resource conservation and the interrelationships of gender, race, and class in environmental issues. Marisa was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Brazil for her doctoral research and has published in Human EcologyHuman Dimensions of Fisheries and WildlifeWater Policy, and Society & Natural Resources. Her work with C4I involves facilitating Toolbox Dialogue Initiative workshops and studying the impact of philosophically structured dialogue on cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration. Marisa hopes to apply insights from the TDI process to improve communication and collaboration among diverse stakeholders in conservation research and natural resource management.

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Chet McLeskey

Postdoctoral Fellow

Chet McLeskey holds a PhD in Philosophy with a focus on ethics, broadly construed, with an emphasis on bioethics, virtue theory, and the epistemic and psychological aspects of ethical decision making. His current research involves the notion of moral expertise in bioethics and how best to form ethical decision making bodies, such as ethics committees. Chet also works on the Scientific Virtues Project developed by Prof. Robert T. Pennock, and has published and presented work on the role of virtue and character in scientific practice. His work with C4I centers on the development of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training workshops that build upon the ongoing work from the Scientific Virtues Project. Using the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative’s model, he is developing workshops that explore the notion of scholarly virtue in humanities disciplines and how developing a character and culture that promotes and instills these virtues aids in achieving excellence in research, scholarship, and teaching.

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Edgar Cardenas

Postdoctoral Fellow

Edgar Cardenas holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University and conducts research at the art-science interface. He recently completed an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan with the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities where he focused on approaches for fostering productive artist-scientist collaborations. As a social scientist, he focuses on social creativity and small group dynamics, exploring which processes and mechanisms support creative collaborations. As an interdisciplinary artist, he investigates the ecological, cultural, and technological subtleties of human/environment relationships. He also is a member of the indigenous artist collective, Radio Healer. As a member of the C4I community, he will be leading research on various ways in which art can inform and enhance interdisciplinary research across campus.

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