I have recently written about "lead vs. impact" in industry research, today I would like to continue these series of thoughts by observing that achieving a lead is often a result of multidisciplinary research. There are two ways to approach multidisciplinary research, one is: develop versatile, multidisciplinary researchers, and the other is tight collaboration of researches from multiple disciplines. The difference can be explained by examples from the animal world.
A duck is a multidisciplinary animal
It swims, it walks and it flies. It is not excellent in any of them, but he can do all.
Looking at the question who is the fastest swimmer, flier and runner we come across the sailfish, spine-tailed-swift and cheetah
It is obviously cheaper to keep one duck than to keep these three animals, and in many cases the walking, swimming and flying abilities of the duck are "good enough". This is particularly true when the scale of ambition for the research is "impact". However, when the aim is "lead", it is often the combination of people who are excellent in their disciplines collaborating together which constitutes the lead. Versatility cannot replace excellence. More posts in these series - later.