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ASU postdoctoral scholars to benefit from NSF grant

April 29, 2014

A new grant will boost postdoctoral scholars at Arizona State University with professional training, mentorship, career development and travel funds to attend professional meetings.

The National Science Foundation, through Computing Research Association, will provide $892,350 over a three-year period for a unique new postdoctoral program for ASU, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona.

The Computer Science and Engineering Postdoc Academy will begin with 15 postdocs at ASU in the first year, all in computer-related sciences. The model will eventually be extended to the more than 380 postdoctoral scholars at ASU.

“With grants like this, we’ll be able to generate new research combinations and new teaching configurations as we train the next generation of postdoctoral scholars,” says Eric Wertheimer, associate vice provost of Graduate Education.

The new training addresses several challenges in postdoctoral scholarship, according to the grant proposal. Postdocs are often over-focused on research at the expense of career development and personal advancement. Academic infrastructure can lack mechanisms to support postdocs. Advisers and mentors are overloaded with responsibilities that include mentoring several graduate students, as well as their own teaching and publishing.

The Postdoc Academy will encompass three new methods of postdoctoral training:

• A physical and virtual center where postdocs can network, collaborate and access resources.

• Faculty members (Champions) who volunteer to supply additional career advice and mentoring to the postdoc.

• A curriculum of activities and events focused on multidisciplinary perspectives, challenges and innovations, future trends, and political and legal aspects of research.

Partners who will provide support and resources for the new program include ASU Graduate Education, Science Foundation Arizona and the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering (SCIDSE) in the Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Co-principal investigators for the grant are Chitta Baral and Partha Dasgupta, professors in SCIDSE, and Pamela Garrett, academic program manager in Graduate Education.

“This grant will do more than just transform the experience of postdocs and their mentors in computer science,” says Wertheimer. “It represents a critical moment for postdocs at ASU, as it enables us to begin to make ASU a more dynamic and supportive place for them to work and learn.”

Computer science and engineering students have been identified as recipients of the first year training. Additional computer science postdocs are needed to fill the additional slots. Contact Pamela Garrett for further information.