Published: Oct. 4, 2019 By

ACTIVE Faculty Development and Leadership 2019 Cohort

2019 ACTIVE Cohort at first day luncheon

Impact in the classroom. Diversity of minds and resources. Leadership training. Building community. These are some of the reasons that the 2019 ACTIVE participants gathered at CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science this week. Across the nation there is a call for more diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM fields and the ACTIVE Faculty Development and Leadership Intensive was developed to train, educate and equip future faculty members to succeed in the classroom and the lab.  

The 2019 cohort comprises 15 graduate students from 13 universities across the United States. Their research covers an array of topics from additive manufacturing and computational design to technoeconomic analyses of global development to control of robotic fish.  During the expense-paid, three-day experience at CU Boulder, participants honed their three- to five-year research agenda, prepare and practice for faculty interviews, meet with potential research collaborators and explore the differences between research and instructional faculty professional pathways. 

Amani Ebrahim, a PhD student in material science and chemical engineering at Stony Brook University, is part of the 2019 cohort. “I’ve never heard of a program like this. I’m looking forward to learning to improve my teaching as well as the classroom experience,” Ebrahim said. 

For Dani Perdue, a GEM Fellow and doctoral candidate at Rice University, it was the emphasis on leadership that caught her attention. “When I think about being research faculty, I think about leading my lab, and I want support for developing leadership,” Perdue said. 

The ACTIVE fellows have an action-packed trip visiting labs, exploring campus, meeting with faculty and experiencing Boulder. For most participants, this was their first visit to Boulder, except for Javier Martinez, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Noting the university’s proximity to four national labs, Martinez shared that he’s collaborated twice with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and was excited to be back because he “really like(s) Boulder.” 

For Danny Sanchez from UT Austin, the tenure track can be daunting because research jobs can be tough to land, and finding a welcoming community is important. “My queer identity is a big factor in where I go, and not everyone understands that experience,” Sanchez shared. 

“Personalization is a key factor in the ACTIVE program,” said Robyn Sandekian, Manager of Diverse Faculty Recruiting for the CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We are bringing promising researchers to our campus, and we are tailoring their experience for optimal impact.”

At lunch the first day, students shared what they were looking forward to, and Brianna Benedict, a graduate research assistant in engineering education at Purdue University, said that she was impressed by the level of personalization. “Even the pre-arrival experience has been phenomenal,” Benedict said. “She (Sandekian) really made sure that we will maximize our time here and connect with the right people.”

The ACTIVE Faculty Development and Leadership Intensive is a three-day program hosted every fall at CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Applications open in late spring or early summer. 


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