Provost’s Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellows (PDPF) Program – Using Data Science to Address Health Disparities
University of Texas at San Antonio values a diverse scholarly community that promotes intellectual challenge, innovation and an inclusive educational environment driving the success of our students. In our role as an HSI Research University, we have a special responsibility to advance an academic community enriched by individuals reflecting diverse sociocultural identities, perspectives, and experiences who can have an outsized impact as exemplars and role models for students who are our next generation of thought leaders. To that end, the Provost’s Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows Program is intended to increase the diversity of the academic research community by supporting promising scholars and educators from diverse backgrounds whose life experience and research experience will contribute significantly to academic excellence at UTSA and prepare them for future faculty appointment.
The Provost’s Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows (PDPF) Program is part of our Strategic Hiring Initiative, which is one of programs designed to strategically hire outstanding scholars to advance institutional excellence. This fellowship program is designed to seek to promote and nurture the work of outstanding diverse early career postdoctoral scholars at UTSA and prepare the participants for faculty positions at UTSA (or elsewhere), particularly in fields where there are fewer women or members of underrepresented minorities. A successful nominee will be someone with diverse life experiences and background who has potential for both a successful fellowship and a possible future tenure-track faculty appointment at UTSA.
The purpose of the PDPF program is to develop a diverse cadre of postdoctoral fellows prepared to enter the tenure track, by both fostering the continued development of an independent research program and supporting the development of innovative online or experiential teaching skills. This 2- year program is designed to advance the career success of postdoctoral fellows by: 1) providing specific professional development, training and research mentoring to establish a strong independent research program competitive for external support through work with faculty, and 2) 1:1 training in experiential and/or online pedagogy with experience teaching in the Honors College.
This year’s Fellows program is designed to support the development of data science research expertise, as such, the successful candidate will receive research mentorship by faculty affiliated with UTSA’s School of Data Science. The candidate must have a research interest related to the social determinants of health or interventions to prevent health inequities at any level of the socio-ecological model; have an academic specialization that aligns with one of the departments of the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCaP); and a demonstrated interest in the intersections between data science and health.
To contribute to the University’s knowledge enterprise, the fellows will also be paired with a team of research mentors from the School of Data Science and HCaP who will help connect them to the resources necessary to advance their research agenda and advance interdisciplinary inquiry. Fellows will develop an Individualized Development Plan in collaboration with the faculty mentors to chart the desired experiences and skills to promote the acquisition of Data Science competencies and advance the research goals of the Fellows.
To develop teaching skills and contribute to UTSA’s Classroom to Career initiative, Fellows will work closely with the staff of the Honors College, division of Academic Innovation, and select offices specializing in high-impact, educational practices and experiential learning opportunities. Fellows will develop or teach 1 course per long term in the Honors College. They will also spend time developing teaching skills (e.g., online course development, designing service learning courses, research-based, or professional development courses, organizing a study abroad, etc.) that are not normally emphasized during graduate study. Mentorship by UTSA faculty and staff who have deep experience in these areas is central to this program and Fellows have the opportunity to deliver their courses to the high-achieving, diverse audience of the UTSA Honors College.
Upon successful completion of the program, Fellows will be evaluated during the final year for faculty appointment within a discipline at UTSA.
Background and Rationale
As a research university, UTSA is in a relatively unique position to provide Fellows in depth research mentorship to advance the Fellows preparation for success on the tenure track. UTSA is known for its data science strengths, with commitment to data analytic/computation/cyber/digital approaches to scholarship – offering the opportunity for scholars trained in experimental methodologies to gain data-rich methods training through our School of Data Sciences, in addition to rich disciplinary based work in academic colleges. Furthermore, UTSA sits in rich collaborative ecosystem – with dense industry government partners that comprise our National Security Collaboration Center, as well as Texas Biomed, SwRI, and BAMC. These partners are collaborating in an exciting Precision Therapeutics Initiative, and regularly work together in joint ventures (SALSI, etc). Finally, UTSA is designated by Carnegie as a Civic Engaged university, and as such as numerous community partners with the city organizations, including the Westside Community Partnership (see below).
The School of Data Science (SDS) centralizes UTSA’s talent and resources in artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer science and information science, statistics and data analytics, bioinformatics and health analytics, big data and cloud computing, and cyber security to foster radical innovation and solve the society’s grant challenges. The new physical space in downtown San Antonio, which is located at the heart of the Tech Corridor, will propel the advancement of School of Data Science by collocating UTSA’s nationally and internationally recognized faculty and researchers associated with UTSA’s Matrix AI Consortium for Human Well-Being, Open Cloud Institute, Institute of Cyber Security, Cyber Center for Security & Analytics, and the future Health Analytics Institute. Supported by the Ph.D. programs in applied statistics, computer science, information technology, and electrical engineering, and in collaboration with College of Business, College of Engineering, and College of Sciences, SDS will launch an MS/BS joint degree in data science and data science certificates at both graduate and undergraduate levels, offering a variety of interdisciplinary and innovative curricula to produce a new generation of technically advanced, diverse workforce. The candidates will have the opportunity to build research collaboration with 80-plus tenured/tenure-track faculty and more than 200 PhD students in the five SDS constitute departments and four research centers & institutes, as well as with the government and industry partners of SDS. Additionally, the candidates will have the opportunity to contribute their expertise in educating and preparing UTSA students to investigate data science problems across different disciplines and to increase their participation in data science-related fields through cross-campus/cross-sector collaborations.
The College for Health, Community & Policy is composed of eight departments and administers eighteen degree programs, with a mission to develop solutions to affect change for complex social issues to improve the well-being of communities and the world through exceptional education, creation and dissemination of knowledge, and partnership with diverse communities and institutions from local to global with an emphasis on equity and inclusion. Embracing the Hispanic-thriving and urban-serving missions of UTSA, HCaP is a leader in transdisciplinary, community-engaged, collaborative research, teaching, and policy development that improves the lives and wellbeing of diverse populations.
UTSA has a strong connection to UT Health San Antonio, which is our sister medical school within the University of Texas system. This position will have incredible opportunity to leverage existing partnerships and will be expected to expand collaborations between institutions. HCaP enjoys existing collaborations with the Institute for Health Promotion Research, directed by Amelie Ramirez, the Military Health Institute, and the joint PhD in Translational Science. Additionally, more than a dozen UTSA faculty have adjoint appoints in UTHealth departments including Medicine, Nursing, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Population Health Sciences, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. The UT Health School of Public Health (UTSPH) and UTSA collaborate on a thriving undergraduate/graduate 4+1 Accelerated MPH program to serve our community; graduates from our program serve as lecturers and on research teams at the UTSA campus. A number of the students who graduate from UTSA’s undergraduate program in public health, continue their graduate studies in the Master in Public Health Program through the UTSPH. In addition, the UTSPH – San Antonio campus is an integral member of the University of Texas Health - San Antonio’s Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS), which is also a collaborating partner with the UTSA Seminars in Translational Research (STRECH) and Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) programs. The UTSPH, through the IIMS, works with researchers and communities across south Texas to develop strong community and academic partnerships that may lead to effective studies and actions that improve our population’s health by advancing health equity through the elimination of health disparities for all people and assists with the evaluation of the IIMS activities. Faculty from each institution hold joint appointments at the other to facilitate collaborations in teaching and research. There is also an expansive health-related research network in San Antonio, where HCaP also boasts connections to the Health Collaborative, the Methodist Health Ministries, Baptist Health Foundation and the City of San Antonio R&D League, to name a few.
Another critical community connections is made through UTSA’s Westside Community Partnership. The Westside Community Partnerships (WCP) is a placed-based strategy that aims to addresses the most tenacious challenges to the heart of San Antonio’s Mexican American working class community. Despite suffering from pervasive patterns of structural violence, including racial segregation, educational neglect and political disenfranchisement, the Westside continues to be a source of pride for the community, producing leaders, artists, visionaries and professionals. The WCP harnesses the human, intellectual and economic power of UTSA to improve the lives of the people of the Westside. The WCP is an integral part of UTSA’s strategy in reaching its destination of being a premier urban-serving institution of the future. An urban-serving university is more than just a university located in an urban area. According to the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, of which UTSA is a member, to be urban-serving means to be, and to be seen as, an anchor institution “whose physical presence is integral to the social, cultural, and economic well-being of the community” in which the university is located.
This fellowship includes specific mentoring in undergraduate teaching, as unfortunately, traditional doctoral training underemphasizes the development of instructional competence, in part because developing innovative online or experiential learning courses generally require a significant time commitment on the part of both the student and the mentors that can negatively impact time to degree and research productivity. PDFP addresses this gap by offering the time and mentorship without sacrificing time on the tenure clock. Moreover, the Honors College provides an R&D laboratory for these courses to be delivered and refined with top students and faculty, all the while exposing UTSA’s top academic performers to the most recent innovations in inclusion, online, and experiential education. Both inclusive and experiential pedagogy are highlighted by this program, and experienced instructional design professionals will work directly with the fellow to hone skill development. Experiential learning and transformative approaches to teaching are becoming increasingly important within higher education.
PDPF Fellows will be paired with two research mentors (one from HCaP and one from SDS) who will support them in advancing their Individualized Development Plan (IDP), and connect them to the scholarly resources necessary to advance their research agendas. Activities may include:
Orientation that includes in-depth conversations between the mentor(s) and the Postdoctoral Researcher. Mutual expectations will be discussed and agreed upon in advance.
Career Counseling that is directed at providing the Fellow with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to excel in his/her chosen career path. Fellows will be encouraged to participate in networking activities and other UTSA-hosted research symposia to engage with academics and researchers within their fields of expertise.
Experience with Preparation of Grant Proposals will be gained by direct involvement of the Fellow in proposals prepared by the mentor(s). The Fellow will have an opportunity to learn best practices in proposal preparation including identification of key research questions, definition of objectives, description of approach and rationale, and construction of a work plan, timeline, and budget. Fellows will also be encouraged to participate in research-related professional development opportunities offered through the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise.
Publications and Presentations are expected to result from the work supported by the Fellow. Fellows will receive guidance and training in the preparation of manuscripts for scientific journals and presentations at conferences.
Instruction in Professional Practices, to be provided on a regular basis in the context of the research work, that includes fundamentals of the data scientific methods and other standards of professional practice in the Fellow’s applicable field(s) of expertise. In addition, Fellows will be encouraged to affiliate with one or more professional societies in his/her chosen field. Opportunities for structured didactic coursework and certificates also are available.
For instructional mentorship in the Honors College, the candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with award winning faculty and high achieving students. S/he will be coached to develop innovative courses that challenge students to perform hands-on work at the sites where data science and health intersect. The candidate will have the opportunity to learn how honors colleges function and the unique concerns of top achieving students. Although the Honors College does work with disciplines directly, Honors encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and will facilitate establishing these with for the successful candidate. High-impact teaching practices and inclusive pedagogy are emphasized and will involve the candidate in professional development that will advance skill development in these areas.
The division of Academic Innovation is home to professionals in instructional design, pedagogy development, learning and video technologies that are available for one on one consultation and intensive mentoring, determined by the needs and interests of the candidate.
Success of the Fellow’s Individualized Development Plan (IDP) will be assessed by the mentor(s) monitoring their personal progress toward his/her career goals as they engage in this program.
Applications will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee including representative faculty and staff from HCaP, the School of Data Science, the Honor’s College, and the division of Academic Innovation. The PDPF committee will conduct initial screening interviews by video/phone and from these candidates invite a shortlist of candidates for a more in depth “campus” interview. On this interview, candidates will meet with the PDPF committee, members of the representative units, and faculty members of a potential home department. They will also meet with honors students and a team of individuals from the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Academic Innovation.
If successful, the recommended individual is approved as a candidate and the hiring process is then authorized to proceed per established Academic Affairs guidance. The cognizant Dean(s), in consultation with the relevant Department Chair(s), initiates the process of candidate review to hire in accordance with established guidelines prior to final negotiations.
Applications will be reviewed beginning January 11, 2021 with positions open until filled. Specific start date during Summer 2020 is negotiable.
Applicants will submit an application by using this link. The application includes a:
Detailed cover letter that 1) outlines the candidate’s health-related research experience; 2) describes how gaining experience in data science methods will advance the state of the field or address national need; and 3) discusses how the candidate would make a long-term contribution to the UTSA knowledge enterprise;
Statement that discusses what contributions the candidate can make to mentoring in experiential and online teaching and what they will gain from this experience;
Statement that describes the candidate’s commitment to diversity and inclusion research and pedagogy, and describes what personal qualifications and/or experiences has prepared the candidate to contribute to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome and valued.
Up to two Fellows will be selected for this year’s program. Successful candidates typically will have received their doctorate within the last two years and must demonstrate a strong interest or demonstrated competency in one or more of the critical areas below:
research and scholarship that uses data science approaches advance diversity, inclusion, and/or addresses the health needs of our diverse society; including state and region’s economic, social and cultural needs;
innovation that reflects culturally diverse communities or voices not well represented;
research to understand the factors and experiences of historically underrepresented groups that contribute to health disparities or that promote health equities, including women as well as racial/ethnic groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines;
partnerships in outreach and service that promote diversity and inclusion;
broader programs of research concerned with eliminating disparities in access to and/or outcomes in health that could be enhanced through application of new data science methodologies.
engagements with students that advance diversity and inclusion, including service aimed at expanding access, including building or leading bridge and mentoring programs for undergraduates;
the potential to contribute to our understanding of the conditions that enhance access to and full participation of a diverse academic community;
excitement for developing innovations in pedagogy and curriculum to engage a diverse student body;
experience with mentoring students from groups that have been under-utilized in higher education;
Moreover, candidates must meet the following criteria:
willingness to develop innovative online and experiential courses informed by diversity and inclusion pedagogy;
strong desire to work with high-achieving undergraduates within the context of an honors college;
interest and capacity to mentor honors students through projects and signature experiences;
interest in establishing a nationally competitive research program
potential to make long-term contribution to the knowledge enterprise at UTSA and meaningfully engage researchers in and out of the Fellows discipline, department & college.
Finally, through attracting promising researchers and educators from different backgrounds, racial and ethnic groups, and other diverse populations whose differing life experiences, research experiences and employment backgrounds foster innovative thinking, Fellows must contribute to the University’s commitment to advance excellence through diversifying its faculty. Successful candidates will diversify the faculty by one or more of the following circumstances:
Under-Utilization refers to the under- or non-representation of any race, gender, veterans, or disabled persons in an academic department, college or school – a condition in which a statistical disparity exists between the percentage of women and/or racial/ethnic minorities, non-minorities, veterans, or disabled in a given segment of the University work force and the percentage of qualified women and/or racial/ethnic minorities, non-minorities, veterans, or disabled persons available for these positions.
Veterans and Disabled Persons: Federal Regulations require that employers be measured against a benchmark “goal” for hiring veterans and people with disabilities. The Department of Labor has set a 7% goal of hiring veterans and persons with disabilities within each established job group. Please note that each applicant must be invited to self-identify as a covered veteran or person with a disability before a hiring decision is made (e.g., with the “application materials for the position”) and each applicant receiving an offer must be invited to self-identify as a covered veteran or person with a disability after an offer is extended but before the applicant begins working.
Special Needs could include areas where there is a high concentration of racial/ethnic minority majors or courses with a high concentration of racial/ethnic minority students but few faculty who identify from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups. Please consult with the VPIE in advance, final determination is made in consultation among Academic Affairs, VPIE and Human Resources.
As an Hispanic-thriving institution, we particularly welcome future leaders in Hispanic/Latino health equity and inclusion, and given the role of diverse leadership in enabling pathways and serving as a role model for students from historically underrepresented groups, diverse candidates, particularly those who identify as Hispanic/Latino, are strongly encouraged to apply.
Internal Number: 5481
About The University of Texas at San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is a multicultural discovery enterprise institution with more than 32,000 students. It is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region with four campuses across the city.
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