Fellowship program builds pipeline to tenure-track positions, contributes to campus diversity, equity, and inclusion

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Four postdoctoral scholars comprise the University of Iowa Office of the Provost’s first cohort in the Provost’s Postdoctoral Faculty Fellowship Program. The program is intended to serve as a pipeline to tenure-track positions and is expected to increase campus diversity and align with the goals of the 2019–2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan.

The 2020–21 provost’s postdoctoral faculty fellows:

Top row, left to right: Shamar Chin, Michaela Curran. Bottom row, left to right: Lisa Ortiz, Guifeng Xu.

Shamar Chin will be hosted in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and is joining Iowa from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where she is completing a PhD in micropaleontology.

Michaela Curran will be hosted in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health and is joining Iowa from the University of California, Riverside where she is completing a PhD in sociology.

Lisa Ortiz will be hosted in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Iowa and received a PhD in educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 2018.

Guifeng Xu will be hosted in the Department of Pediatrics in the Roy J. And Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. She is currently a PhD candidate in Iowa’s Department of Epidemiology.

“These fellows demonstrate abundant promise as future faculty members, and we are honored and excited to host them,” says Montserrat Fuentes, UI Executive Vice President and Provost. “It was wonderful to see so many great submissions from a wide range of applicants. I could not be more pleased with the strength of this first cohort, and I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to help them develop skills for their chosen career path.”

Applicants were selected based on their potential to become successful tenure-track faculty.  Considerations included the strength and quality of candidates’ research and scholarship; their contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion excellence; and the quality of the fellowship resources and programming offered by the applicant’s host unit—including but not limited to mentorship opportunities, professional development, and the availability of a tenure-track position upon the fellowship’s completion.

Postdoctoral fellowships will begin in fall 2020, and the fellows will participate together in tailored workshops to prepare them to become excellent teachers and to support their ability to pursue grants, create productive mentor relationships, and publish or present research and scholarship. Opportunities for leadership development and building teaching skills are a key part of the program, which will focus on balanced training and mentoring to help fellows increase their chances of a successful candidacy for a tenure-track position at Iowa.

In fall 2019, the provost’s office announced it was accepting proposals from units interested in participating in the new program. The provost’s office received 12 submissions, which were reviewed by a committee that made recommendations to the provost. That committee included:

  • Lois Geist, associate provost for faculty
  • John Keller, associate provost for graduate and professional education and dean of the Graduate College
  • Ted Abel, chair and departmental executive officer of the Carver College of Medicine Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology
  • Corinne Peek-Asa, professor and associate dean for research in the College of Public Health

“Attracting a talented and diverse faculty body is essential for the continued success of our university as a premier public research institution, and these postdoctoral fellows are an important contribution to that ongoing effort,” says Fuentes. “I am grateful to all of the applicants and to the review committee for a very successful selection process, and I am eager to welcome the fellows to this next chapter in their career development this fall.”

Read more on the provost’s website.