Oakland University’s PI Academy, which trains early-career faculty in the key aspects of becoming a nationally recognized researcher and scholar and then pairs them with prestigious scholars from across the nation, is going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The challenges confronting new faculty this year are daunting,” said Dr. David Stone, OU’s vice president for research and director of the PI Academy. “As they develop their research trajectories, they have to deal with online and hybrid teaching formats, challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions on their research, the time-consuming nature of Zoom-based service and student mentoring activities, and the added challenges of balancing work and home lives.
“The PI Academy recognizes these additional challenges and is modifying its curriculum to ensure that we are assisting these new faculty to work as efficiently and effectively as they can, while recognizing that every aspect of the worlds of research and scholarship space, whether that is grant funding, speaking slots on conference programs, or article space in journals remains nationally and sometimes internationally competitive,” Stone added.
The PI Academy will provide professional development in research and engagement to a cohort of 24 non-tenured, tenure track faculty members who have demonstrated potential for becoming well-positioned scholars and attracting external funding for their research, community engagement, or other scholarly activities.
This year’s participants include: Zeina AlSalman, Aubrey Arain, Osman Aydas, Thomas Bianchette, Rebecca Boni, Jun Chen, Elizabeth Delorme-Axford, Tara Diesbourg, David Gram, Michael Greiner, Tamas Horvath, Jun Hu, Kyeorda Kemp, Hyungil Kim, Zacharias Kinney, Michael Kranak, Chang-kyu Kwon, Tianle Ma, Jason Overfelt, Sunny Raj, Zhe Wang, Dawn Woods, Ankun Yang, and Yongsoon Yoon.
The PI Academy program will include training sessions, workshops and other activities over the course of the coming year. The sessions will cover a range of activities related to planning a research/scholarship agenda, balancing aspects of a faculty career (research/teaching/service), and developing necessary skills for becoming a successful externally funded principal investigator.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sessions will be conducted virtually, with synchronous online discussions and materials posted on e-space.
The professional development component will provide information and insight about the gamut of activities related to becoming a successful investigator, including competitive positioning, grant writing, project management, research compliance, responsible conduct of research, working with sponsoring agencies, and sustaining funding over the long-term.
Faculty members will learn how to develop and sustain successful working relationships with OU units responsible for administration of grants and contracts. Additional training will provide a framework for understanding the process of engaged learning, as well as specific information about accessing OU resources for incorporating engaged learning into their research and teaching.
In addition to the professional development activities, academy scholars will be provided with the opportunity to connect with an external senior mentor. This person will be a successful faculty member from an outside institution who shares the scholar’s area of specialization.
Senior mentors will be invited to visit campus for a day, and also be expected to provide advice and mentoring to their scholar on at least one project over the ensuing year.
“This year, because of the challenges to travel created by COVID-19, the senior mentor portion of the program will be delayed,” Stone said. “As soon as travel is once again safe and viable, we will bring this element of the program back.”
For more information about the PI Academy, visit oakland.edu/research/pi-academy.