Russian scientists have been collecting data on physical and biological conditions in Lake Baikal since 1945, involving dozens of committed Siberian researchers, students and mariners, and including 3 generations of a single family of limnologists. Building on relationships created and sustained by Wellesley College's successful Baikal program for education and research, a broader Russian-American research team has developed over the past decade.
This Russian-American collaboration provides a case study of the potential for exhilarating discovery in international work, even as the team expends considerable energy in navigating logistical challenges and cultural differences inherent to international collaboration. In any collaboration, one expects that research results must propel the scientific trajectory, and that the team membership and logistics of the research will change over time. Yet in international work the effects of such changes can be more substantial; attention to maintaining communication, cultural sensitivity, and cohesive team goals is critical. Research products may result more slowly from such collaborative work, given these challenges. But the results can have high impact when elucidating phenomena that are not well known, and the work itself fosters global competencies that benefit researchers throughout their careers.