Bryn Mawr College
Keck Postdoctoral Research/Teaching Fellowships in Sciences/Mathematics

Program announcement:

Program objective: There is an urgent national need for programs that will create a cohort of scientists/mathematicians committed to and well prepared for the undergraduate teaching enterprise. There is also a national need for expertise in the teaching and encouragement of women with interest and promise in science/mathematics. The program will serve as a training ground for young scientists emerging from graduate programs with a traditional focus on research, but who also want to make an equal or even greater contribution to teaching.

The institutional context: Bryn Mawr was founded in 1885 to give women access to an education equal in quality to that available only to men at the nation's leading institutions, and was the first institution in the U.S. to offer women the full range of baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. Today Bryn Mawr includes an undergraduate liberal arts College of 1,242 women, and two co-educational graduate schools, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with 205 students, and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, enrolling 254. The College offers undergraduate programs in biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental sciences, geology, mathematics, neural and behavioral sciences, physics, and psychology. It also has small M.A. and Ph.D. programs in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, neural and behavioral sciences, and physics, in which 33 students are currently enrolled.

Bryn Mawr has always set high standards for faculty and student research. Its scientists and mathematicians publish regularly, often with undergraduate and graduate student coauthors, and attract research support from such sources as NIH, NSF, and private foundations. The scale of the College's research programs allows for extraordinarily close working relationships among undergraduates, graduate students, and their faculty mentors. This special environment will enable teaching/research postdoctoral fellows both to carryout significant and meaningful research and to experience the teacher/scientist ideal in a way that is not possible in large research settings.

The College devotes considerable time to review and revision of the science curriculum and pedagogical methods. Recent innovations have included redesign of introductory courses; introduction of computer and multimedia technology; replacement of lectures with problem-oriented, discussion-based courses; addition of open-ended investigative laboratory exercises; development of interdisciplinary programs; and precollege outreach. Over the last decade, these efforts have been supported by grants from AT&T (Learning Network Teaching and Technology Program), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program), NASA/USRA (Program in Earth System Science Education), and NSF (Institution-Wide Reform of Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Program). Because the College views teaching science as a dynamic process, teaching/research postdoctoral fellows will be exposed to new and creative approaches to science education.

Bryn Mawr has close working relations with a number of near-by institutions, including co-ed Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. Students from these institutions enroll in College courses, and they provide as well a rich array of supplemental opportunities at graduate and professional levels.

The program: As in traditional postdoctoral programs, fellows will conduct research in collaboration with Bryn Mawr faculty members. The program is, however, distinctive in providing fellows with an apprenticeship in how to teach a variety of different courses, and how to guide undergraduate researchers. Over the three-year program, fellows will spend 50% of their time on teaching and 50% on research.

While at Bryn Mawr, fellows will be expected to sustain active research programs, producing results worthy of presentation at national meetings and publication in peer-reviewed journals. Fellows will teach in the departments in which they are based, and will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing interdisciplinary programs in environmental sciences and neural and behavioral sciences in order to extend their teaching into new fields. Teaching projects spanning introductory through advanced courses will vary over the three-year period as fellows gain experience, and will not exceed the equivalent of one course each semester. In the first year, fellows will shadow their mentors and team teach with them a variety of courses, including introductory and upper-level lecture and laboratory courses, as well as discussion-based seminar courses. In the second year, fellows will take full responsibility for teaching one regular departmental offering each semester. For each course, they will be expected to prepare a syllabus and lecture/discussion topics; develop and run, with the aid of an undergraduate or graduate teaching assistant, experiments for laboratory courses; and grade tests and other written assignments. In the final year, the fellows will teach one regular departmental offering and also design and teach a one-semester course on a topic that is of special interest to them or collaborate on the development of a new interdisciplinary course with a postdoctoral fellow or faculty member from another department.

In addition to providing training in teaching, the program will enable fellows to learn how to develop and supervise research projects geared toward the varying levels of expertise and busy schedules of undergraduates. In the first year, while beginning their new research projects and becoming familiar with the capabilities of student researchers, fellows informally will assist undergraduates working alongside them on related projects in their faculty mentor's laboratory in a manner similar to the way in which senior graduate students often help train junior graduate students. In the second year, fellows will build on this informal experience of training by participating in meetings between their faculty mentors and student researchers during which project design and execution and the production of the culminating senior thesis are discussed. In the third year, fellows will assume primary responsibility for advising and mentoring one to two undergraduate researchers.

Mentoring and Professional Development: Mentoring of the fellows will be an important component of the program. Faculty members within and outside the fellows' home departments will provide extensive teaching and research guidance. Fellows will also participate in regularly scheduled meetings of their faculty mentor's research group and in departmental faculty meetings at which curricular issues are discussed. In addition, all the fellows, their mentors, and the Program Director will meet monthly to discuss program-related issues. Fellows will also meet as a group with their faculty mentors, other science faculty, and interested graduate students once each semester for day-long workshops on general issues, both theoretical and practical, in science education.

In addition, fellows will have the opportunity to join in a variety of ongoing training and enrichment activities offered by the College:

Over and above the guidance received from their faculty mentors, the College's Director of Sponsored Research will assist the fellows in identifying grant opportunities and submitting proposals as they move toward the next stage in their careers.

Program Administration: Alfonso Albano, Marion Reilly Professor of Physics, is Program Director.