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Week of October 14, 2013

Applicants sought for President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program


Applications are being accepted through Nov. 1 for the third year of the U-M President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

The fellowship supports exceptional scholars in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, economics and political science who will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education and have the potential to become faculty members at U-M.

The second group of postdoctoral scholars selected for the program arrived on campus this fall. Both scholars are chemists. They are Aaron Frank, who will work with Charles Brooks, professor of chemistry and biophysics; and Ginger Schulz, who will work with Tim McKay, professor of physics and director of the Honors Program. 

Frank, who received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, uses computer intelligence to understand how structure affects function in biomolecules, with an emphasis on RNA. Schulz, who received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oregon, is doing research in chemical education.

“Outstanding scholars like Aaron and Ginger bring new ideas and energy that advance excellence in research and teaching in the department,” said Carol Fierke, Jerome and Isabella Karle Collegiate Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry, LSA.

Frank and Schulz will be joined by two postdoctoral scholars who were selected in the previous round. They are Carlos Silvera Batista, who will work with Nicholas Kotov, professor of chemical engineering, and Tawanna Dillahunt, who will work with Paul Resnick, professor of information. 

Silvera Batista, who has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Florida, will study the self-assembly of semiconducting nanoparticles for high-efficient photovoltaic systems, systems which can convert sun radiation into usable energy. Dillahunt studies energy use in low-income communities. She received a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon. 

The first postdoctoral scholars, who arrived in fall of 2012, were Keren Sharon and Jessica Welburn. Sharon has become an assistant professor of astronomy, and Welburn has renewed her postdoctoral fellowship for a second year, working with Karyn Lacy, associate professor of sociology.

The President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was created in collaboration with the University of California, which has sponsored a very successful postdoctoral program for some years. It combines funding (salary, benefits and research support) with faculty mentoring, professional development and networking opportunities. 

Applicants may apply to both the California and the U-M programs, or to only one. Selections are made by independent committees, one on each campus. The program at U-M has attracted an exceptionally strong group of candidates. 

Each candidate is expected to identify a faculty member who has been contacted in advance of the application and is willing to serve as a mentor. Faculty members are encouraged to identify emerging scholars who would be appropriate for the program.

The president and the provost have committed funds for postdoctoral support, and also for tenure-track positions for successful postdoctoral fellows who are subsequently recruited to become permanent members of the U-M faculty. Provost Martha E. Pollack has remarked that “the program has become an important part of our effort to encourage young scholars and build an exceptional
faculty.”

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