Postdoctoral Positions at the Alliance Institutions
Mentoring and Support
Alliance NSF Mathematical Sciences Institutes
1. Undergraduate research. Most of the universities involved have REU programs that serve diverse populations of undergraduates, and all offer opportunities to mentor undergraduates in research. The postdoctoral fellows will be encouraged to be involved in these programs and their progress regularly evaluated, working in conjunction with one or more senior faculty members. The senior faculty will mentor the postdoc on all aspects of doing undergraduate research, including ﬁnding appropriate research problems for undergraduates, and of running a summer REU program if the postdoc is involved in that. Acting as mentors to undergraduates on research projects will also lead to reﬂection on the nature of research, strengthen the fellows’ conﬁdence, and beneﬁt their career development. Just as teaching reinforces our knowledge of a subject, mentoring someone else in research gives us new insight into the research process. The ability to mentor someone else is also a critical skill for the successful professor, and experience mentoring undergraduate research is increasingly becoming an expectation of academic employers.
2. Graduate student and postdoc mentoring workshop. Each year there will be a mentoring workshop at one of the national institutes for graduate students in their last year of graduate study and for the post-docs. Again we target minority students for this workshop. This is a recruitment tool for the next group of postdocs, and an opportunity for the current postdocs to share their experiences with those behind them in the pipeline. The workshop will help the students and postdocs prepare themselves for the job market. They will work on their vitas, personal statements and talks. The ﬁrst workshop will be held at the American Institute of Mathematics, which will be holding job search mentoring workshops for postdocs in the Joint Institutes Postdoctoral Positions program funded by NSF in spring 2009. There will be an opportunity to learn about different career paths. The workshops will be led by Institute staff with expertise in job search mentoring, a group of early career mathematicians who have recently been through the process, and senior faculty who sit on search committees. The postdocs will participate both as mentors to the graduate students and as mentees, learning from the early career and senior faculty.
3. Mini conferences. The fellows will have the opportunity (jointly with a senior faculty member) to organize a mini-conference in their research area as a current fellow. Typically, these will be short, weekend conferences involving a dozen researchers and relatively low budget. Not only will this supply organizational experience, it will offer excellent networking opportunities with potential collaborators of the fellow. Hosting such a research conference is also a beneﬁt to the host university.
4. Alliance Conferences. To help build a strong community we will have a yearly Alliance Conference for all the postdoctoral fellows (current and former) in the program, together with their mentors. The conference will include talks by current postdoctoral fellows as well as more senior speakers. This conference will be held during or immediately prior to the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the AMS and MAA or the annual SIAM meeting or at one of the national institutes. In addition to community building activities, this conference will be used to showcase the postdocs to the larger mathematical community, including potential employers, much as the Workshops for Women Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Mathematicians organized by the Association for Women in Mathematics showcases the accomplishments of women graduate students and postdocs at major national meetings. Graduate students will be encouraged to attend as well.