Research, Teaching, & Mentoring: Pillars of the UCSF IRACDA Scholars Program

The UCSF IRACDA Program is a 4-year career development program designed to facilitate our postdoctoral scholars’ successful transition to pursue independent research and teaching careers in academia. The UCSF IRACDA program is distinguished by a strong group of scholars engaged in scientific research and teaching, and strong sustained interactions between UCSF and SFSU.

UCSF IRACDA combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to hone additional academic skills and career development activities such as scientific writing, grant writing, and career seeking advice from former scholars.

A second component of our program partners our scholars with faculty at San Francisco State University to learn pedagogy and actively teach undergraduate, masters, and graduate level classes at their institution.

Finally, The Program encourages our scholars to mentor SFSU undergraduates, masters and graduate students in lab and provide outreach to the underrepresented scientific community through programs such as SFSU’s BUILD, RISE, MARC, BRIDGES, and SRTP programs.

 

Mentored Research Experience

At every level, our UCSF Research Mentors are serious about mentoring trainees, including summer undergrads, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows as well as new assistant professors. Our current Research Mentors have an excellent record of securing extramural funding, publishing, and professional service at the local and national level.

Our IRACDA Scholars are embedded within their respective Research Mentors’ labs to refine research technique and develop a sophisticated approach to solve biological science’s toughest questions. Throughout the course of their career each scholar will be encouraged to actively publish in peer-reviewed journals, attend national conferences relevant to their research, and mentor in the lab. Scholars will, however, be required to apply for funding in their third or fourth year in the program, as grant writing is a crucial skillset for academia. Monthly program meetings will complement the lab experience by providing a cohesive network for personal and professional collaboration.

 

Mentored Teaching Experience

Supplementing a research-only focus with teaching training and strategies effectively prepares future faculty. The hands-on experiences offered by our SFSU Teaching Mentors take the fear out of this task, and in so doing greatly increase the Scholar’s confidence and willingness to pursue an academic career.

Within months of appointing to the program, our scholars begin their teaching experience with our partner institution, SFSU. Scholars are introduced to SFSU with a full-day orientation with our IRACDA Co-Director and Teaching Coordinator followed by a series of teaching workshops facilitated by the SFSU IRACDA Leadership tailored to each of our IRACDA scholars with their desired career outcomes in mind. Additionally, scholars are invited to participate in UCSF’s own teaching instruction STEP-UP class offered by the UCSF Office of Career & Professional Development. By the end of their first year in the program, scholars will be paired with their teaching mentors, sit in on lectures, and prepare to teach their own lectures the following fall. In the fall of the scholars’ second year, each scholar will teach a block of classes with their teaching mentor – either an existing course or a proposed new course based on areas of specialized expertise. The teaching experience will continue to the scholars’ third and fourth years in the program, as they will be invited back to SFSU to teach in seminar series.

 

Research Mentoring Experience

All IRACDA Scholars will mentor a student in their UCSF labs for at least two summers. The goals of this activity are to provide a structured and impactful mentored research experience for SFSU undergraduates while concurrently preparing Scholar for a faculty position. This experience also creates long-term opportunities for SFSU undergrads to engage in research at UCSF beyond the summer.

IRACDA Scholars will serve as a research mentor for SFSU students leveraged from existing Summer Student training programs, including NIH-MARC, NIH BRIDGES-to-the-Baccalaureate, SF-BUILD, and NIH-RISE. Some SFSU summer students will also be admitted to the UCSF SRTP program.