Chemistry student wearing goggles transfers liquid in glass beaker.

New Partnership Between SJSU and Stanford to Train Teacher-Scholars for Tomorrow

student working in a lab

A newly awarded National Institutes of Health grant will enable a diverse community of postdoctoral scholars to become leading academic teacher-scholars in all areas of biology and chemistry.

By Brandon White, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

A newly awarded developmental grant will enable a team from Stanford University and San Jose State University to educate a diverse community of postdoctoral scholars who will become leading academic teacher-scholars in all areas of biology and chemistry.

This project is funded by one of 18 Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) from the National Institutes of Health. The award will enable post-doctoral scholars to combine a traditional mentored research experience with an opportunity to develop teaching skills through assignments at SJSU, a minority-serving institution.

Professor Joseph D. (Jody) Puglisi, Chairman of the Department of Structural Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, is the director of the program and will oversee the research efforts of the scholars at Stanford. Professor Brandon White in the Department of Biological Sciences at SJSU will serve as co-director and oversee the teaching efforts of the scholars at SJSU.

This training grant will offer the scholars a unique opportunity to get practical, mentored teaching experiences while simultaneously expanding their research skills. Postdocs who have had the IRACDA experience become highly desirable faculty candidates because they already have demonstrated their desire and willingness to become competent teachers.

The program will include three years of concurrent research training and teaching instruction for the scholars. The first four scholars will begin the program in September 2011, and four to five scholars will be recruited each year. A total of 14 scholars will be in the program at its peak.

According to the NIH Program description, “the program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia” and to “provide a resource to motivate the next generation of scientists at minority-serving institutions, and to promote linkages between research-intensive institutions and minority-serving institutions that can lead to further collaborations in research and teaching.”

In their first year, in addition to conducting their research, postdoctoral scholars will select a class at SJSU that they are interested in teaching and meet with the faculty member who normally teaches that class. Also during their first year, the scholars will take a class preparing them to develop pedagogy, effectively utilize on-line course content, and advise undergraduate students. In year two, the scholars will team teach their selected class with their faculty mentor. In the third year, the scholar will advise SJSU students in the Department of Biological Sciences as well as recruit students from SJSU to participate in research at Stanford.

The scholars will become role models for the students of SJSU, inspiring them to pursue a career in science or technology or to continue their education in a graduate program.