The Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL) at Mississippi State University is a multidisciplinary research organization engaged in developing and applying advanced computer-controlled, optical and laser-based diagnostic instrumentation systems for the characterization of high temperature gas streams. Part of the mission of DIAL is the on-site application of the diagnostic systems to large-scale facilities. The laboratory has approximately 40 professional and support personnel. Twelve faculty members are associated with the laboratory and, because of the multidisciplinary nature of the research program, their disciplines cross college as well as departmental boundaries. This provides for unique graduate research opportunities. Moreover, the laboratory employees 12 full-time research scientists and engineers in addition to a number of technicians and graduate students. The overall program of the laboratory and the rationale for such mission-oriented organizations are presented. In addition, it is pointed out that an organization of this type presents particular administrative problems in universities. While the path from instructor to university president is well laid out in the tenure track system, the administrative path in which the cross-disciplinary researchers find themselves is often unexplored by them or university administrators. Though there are clearly numerous advantages to this kind of organization, there are also disadvantages. Most of these advantages and disadvantages apply to many cross-disciplinary research groups to varying degrees, and these are also discussed in a general way. Recommendations for interfacing cross disciplinary research groups are also given.

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