ASRC-NSF Postdoctoral Research Training Program

**Application deadline extended to June 30, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.**

CUNY postdoctoral researchers in STEM, Social Science, STEM education fields (and possibly, some humanities fields) that fit within NSF’s areas of interest are invited to apply for a new training/mentoring bootcamp series: TRANSPIRE – A transdisciplinary dialogic pedagogy for conceptualizing research questions with transformative potential.

The TRANSPIRE program is primarily designed for postdocs who are at the stage of transitioning to an independent research position (as faculty or in industry). The program will initially run for two years, for two different postdoc cohorts. For year one, the focus is research that has some connection to the environment, sustainability, and/or climate change.

  • Do you envision a faculty or industry career where you lead a team in researching immensely challenging, globally significant scientific problems that could have a global impact?
  • Are you excited by the potential of collaborations of highly inter- or cross-disciplinary research teams?
  • Does the prospect of germinating the types of research questions that would drive such a research program seem overwhelming or mysterious?
  • Would you like to contribute to evaluating the TRANSPIRE program’s effectiveness: what works and why, as well as the potential for scaling the program to other institutions?

If the prospect of honing these skills with a focused, transdisciplinary group of peers and mentors and providing input that may shape the future of the program seems exciting, we encourage you to apply.

Bootcamps will begin in late September 2022.

While there are many interpretations of transdisciplinarity, within the framework of TRANSPIRE we consider it to be an approach to research and research design that integrates or is enhanced through knowledge across academic disciplines and, if relevant with non-academic stakeholders, to address societal challenges. It is guided by the principle that ‘scientific rigor meets societal relevance’.* We use interdisciplinary to indicate that a group will be composed of researchers from intentionally diverse fields.

* Adapted from https://www.uu.nl/en/research/transdisciplinary-field-guide/get-started/what-is-transdisciplinary-research

Starting Premise: Solving significant, previously intractable, scientific problems that have plagued science and society over decades begins with formulating transformative research questions. Such questions will contribute new knowledge to science, be methodologically sound, feasible, and provide viable solutions to the target problem.

Motivation: While an important career step, the postdoc path tends to insufficiently prepare researchers for the independent mindset required to lead their own research group as faculty or in industry. The TRANSPIRE program brings together scientists from different disciplines, including the social sciences, for mentoring activities focused on preparing postdocs for the job market and independent research careers. Each participant in the program will be mentored to develop their own research questions and research statements and provide feedback to others in their group (postdocs are not expected to develop collaborative projects within the TRANSPIRE program).

Training/Mentoring Goals:

  • Mentor postdocs in the process of formulating impactful research questions at the stage in which they are embarking on their path towards becoming independent researchers / scholars.
  • Create a supportive transdisciplinary environment that fosters communication and harnesses incommensurability to challenge thinking and build understandings across disciplines, and that the mentors also benefit from these transdisciplinary interactions.

Project Research Goals:

  • Evaluate whether, how, and why TRANSPIRE expands habits of mind as well as postdocs’ capacities to germinate and evaluate potentially transformative research questions.
  • Assess the potential scalability of the TRANSPIRE model and disseminate the model and findings.
  • Note: as the program is in part a research project, we will be asking for participants’ consent to participate in the research (as per IRB requirements).

Postdocs TRANSPIRE Activities

  • Each postdoc will work on their own independent questions and projects, which will include
    1. Germinating research questions
    2. Use these questions to develop research statements that could be used for their job search
    3. Prepare and give a chalk talk and poster
  • These activities and work products will be developed with ongoing feedback from their assigned, interdisciplinary bootcamp group and from the TRANSPIRE Advisory Board.
  • The goal is that research & questions that emerge would be a step towards conceptualizing the postdoc’s future, independent research path. As such, it may be grounded in current work but during the program, the underlying questions and scope would likely evolve or expand. New directions are also encouraged.

To be eligible for the ASRC-NSF TRANSPIRE Bootcamp, participants must:

  • Have a current postdoctoral position in a relevant field, at a CUNY college, for the 2022-23 academic year
  • Be starting the scholarly and pragmatic aspects of transitioning to an independent research position (this could be a faculty, industry, or similar position)
  • Have a collaborative and interdisciplinary orientation to research
  • Be a researcher who is interested in pursuing and solving grand challenge types of problems
  • Be willing to commit to the TRANSPIRE program and its evaluation
  • Have the written support of your faculty supervisor/advisor/mentor (see supervisor support letter template)

The TRANSPIRE Bootcamp Program will run over the course of the academic year (no summers) for two years, with a separate cohort of participants recruited into the program for each year.

Group bootcamp meetings will be virtual, on Zoom (and require a video connection). Two annual Spring presentation events (postdocs’ chalk talks, posters) are planned to be in person, most likely at the ASRC.

Each bootcamp group will include a mix of disciplines/fields and each group will be no more than 8 participants.

Year One Activities and Anticipated Timeline

September-November 2022 December 2022-February 2023 February-March 2023 April 2023 May 2023
Phase I-A: 6 weeks of bootcamp meetings (2.5 hrs, weekly) – research question germination Phase I-B: 6 weeks – postdocs work independently and with their postdoc supervisor on the innovation (literature review), technical feasibility Phase II: 4 weeks – weekly bootcamps focused on revising the questions and writing research statements; interdisciplinary faculty review panel/feedback Phase III: 3 weeks – weekly bootcamps to prepare chalk talks & posters for a culminating presentation event

Postdocs’ chalk talk presentations to TRANSPIRE team and Advisory Board, postdoc supervisors, and invited CUNY researcher community

TRANSPIRE Evaluation focus groups

Pre-surveys; reflective journals Reflective journals Reflective journals; survey Reflective journals; survey Data analysis

Scheduling of the Bootcamp groups will begin once postdocs are notified of their acceptance into the Bootcamp and will be managed via Doodle poll. If accepted, postdocs are expected to attend all sessions and contribute respectfully to the group discussions. Group meetings (except for the two presentation events) will be virtual, on Zoom.

Participating in the bootcamp is not expected to interfere with the postdocs’ regular responsibilities or to affect how postdocs’ are evaluated by their immediate supervisors.

The TRANSPIRE project is a pilot program and funded by NSF* and includes a research and evaluation component to assess the effectiveness of the training model and its potential for scaling. Postdoc participants and the entire team will participate in the program evaluation.

*National Science Foundation, Germination Program, award #2203605

Participation in the ASTC-NSF TRANSPIRE Bootcamp is by application only. Note that the application requires several documents to be uploaded. We suggest reviewing the application pdf preview and the supervisor’s letter (information and template) before starting the application (both are below).

Applications for the 2022-2023 program must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.

  • Download a preview of the application
    • We suggest you review this before starting the online application form, as the form needs to be completed in one session; additional documents are required to be uploaded as well.
  • Application deadline: Thursday, June 30, 2022, 4:00 PM
  • Notification of acceptances / declines: Friday, July 26 (approximate)
  • Informed consent process: after acceptances
  • Anticipated Phase 1 Bootcamp group start: mid to late September (schedules TBD)

For more information, please contact:

Linda Vigdor, M.F.A., Ph.D.
lvigdor@gc.cuny.edu

Associate Director of Proposal Development
Advanced Science Research Center


The TRANSPIRE team: PI, Bootcamp facilitator, and primary contact: Dr. Linda Vigdor (lvigdor@gc.cuny.edu); co-PIs Dr. Joshua Brumberg, Dean of the Sciences, GC and Interim Executive Director, ASRC; and Dr. Rosemarie Wesson, Interim Associate Provost for Research, CCNY; an Advisory Board of senior faculty (Dr. Kevin Gardner (Director, ASRC’s Structural Biology Initiative), Dr. Orie Shafer (Professor, ASRC’s Neuroscience Initiative), Dr. Maria Tamargo (Professor of Chemistry, CCNY), Dr. Yingli Tian (Professor of Electrical Engineering, Grove School of Engineering, CCNY), Dr. Tammy Lewis (Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College and Professor of Sociology and Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY GC), and Dr. Melissa Checker (Associate Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College and the PhD Programs in Anthropology and Environmental Psychology, CUNY GC); Faculty Fellows (junior faculty from an array of disciplines who will participate in the bootcamp sessions and co-mentor postdocs), and an evaluator, Dr. Deborah Hecht.