Fellowship Program Attracts Diverse Postdocs
Mesmerized by the movement of water as a child—from the ocean to waves and floods—Timu Gallien has transformed her childhood curiosities into full-time research as one of UC San Diego’s newest Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellows at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Serving as a role model for women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Gallien studies coastal flood risks, sea level rises and the effects of urbanization in order to create awareness about the potential consequences of climate change.
"This fellowship program provides exceptional research opportunities," said Gallien, who is currently conducting field work in Oregon. "I am able to pursue my specific research interests and connect with a diverse network of scholars."
The UC San Diego Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Academic Diversity began in 2010 to provide research opportunities, professional development and networking events for outstanding women and underrepresented scholars whose research and service contributes to greater understanding, engagement and access. Eligible scholars with a Ph.D. degree in any field of study receive a $40,000 award for a one-year fellowship, with the potential for renewal for an additional year. UC San Diego is one of five UC campuses to offer the program, an extension of the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which connects diverse postdocs with academic communities that benefit from their diverse perspectives.
"The teaching, research and service of UC San Diego Chancellor's Postdoctoral fellows enhances critical perspectives and enriches our understanding of underrepresented populations," said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "We are proud to partner with UC to provide a pathway for these talented scholars to develop professionally and become strong candidates for faculty positions at the university."
This year, UC San Diego is home to three Chancellor’s Fellows and four President’s Fellows in fields ranging from communication to microbiology and history. The program supports postdocs who have overcome economic, social and educational barriers as well as scholars whose research, teaching and service demonstrate a commitment to addressing issues of equality and access. Each year, 15 scholars are chosen as President's Fellows; those who are not selected become eligible for Chancellor’s Fellowships at partner campuses.
"I believe diversity drives discovery," said Gallien, who is an advocate for increasing representation across all fields of study. She has mentored a diverse group of students in research, job preparation activities, graduate school applications, funding proposals and overcoming social barriers beyond the classroom.
An essential goal of both the Chancellor’s and President’s Fellowship programs is to encourage postdocs to seek faculty positions at the University of California; in the past decade, more than 100 have been appointed to tenure-track positions. A hiring incentive is offered—up to five years of salary supplement—to help diversify faculty at all UC campuses. UC San Diego is currently home to 18 faculty members who are former fellows. Their work encompasses topics ranging from women’s studies to global food security and gender politics, enriching understanding and awareness of important social issues on campus and in the community.
“We strive to create a culture of inclusiveness at UC San Diego, where faculty members, students and postdocs flourish in an academic community that values diverse perspectives,” said Linda S. Greene, vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “The Chancellor’s Fellowship Program allows us to cultivate a rich collection of scholars whose research and service contributes to a more equitable and accessible university.”
A large number of former President’s fellows reside in the ethnic studies department at UC San Diego, including founding faculty member Yen-Le Espiritu. A recent alumnus of the program, Wayne Yang, assistant professor in the department of ethnic studies, attributes his current faculty position at UC San Diego to the associations fostered through the fellowship program. Actively involved in community organizing and youth development, Yang remarked that an invitation to speak at an ethnic studies colloquium led to a career he had not considered before.
“I wouldn’t be teaching at UC San Diego without that experience and the connections I made,” said Yang. “My mentors opened my eyes to the possibilities of being a professor and provided the necessary push I needed to attempt a professional career in academia.”
Yang enjoys attending the annual fellowship retreat, now as a faculty member, where current fellows are invited to share their work and participate in professional development workshops. He believes the retreat is one of the strongest facets of the program and encourages fellows to take advantage of the opportunity to present and network with other fellows and faculty members.
“Simply going through the application process is extremely beneficial because it opens up a whole network of potential mentors and colleagues,” Yang said. “Being in the program affords many opportunities to meet other brilliant scholars and cultivate professional contacts that could have an impact on your career down the road.”