2017-2018 Professors for the Future Fellows
Professors for the Future (PFTF) is a year-long competitive fellowship program designed to recognize and develop the leadership skills of outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who have demonstrated their commitment to professionalism, integrity, and academic service. The program is designed to prepare UC Davis doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars for an increasingly competitive marketplace and a rapidly changing university environment.
This year's cohort of fellows includes students and postdoctoral scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines and graduate programs. In this three-part spotlight series, we'll be getting to know our PFTF fellows and their projects.
Ph.D. Candidate, Linguistics
Research Interests: Sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, literacy, language and power
PFTF Project Title: "Fostering Success in a Second Language: Improving TA Confidence and Ability to Teach ELLs"
PFTF Project Description: There are more English language learners (ELLs) enrolled in UC Davis classes than ever. ELLs have different needs from other kinds of students, but UC Davis teaching assistants do not generally receive extensive training on how to teach a learner who is attempting to learn subject material in a second language. A TA has the potential to be the link between the course material and an ELLs academic success but only if they possess the understanding of how a language learner learns. To address this issue, my project will focus on creating an online training module and certificate program for TAs at UC Davis on the topic of best practices for teaching ELLs. By creating a project to help TAs become more confident in their pedagogical skills, I aim to enhance their professional development and confidence in the classroom. In doing so, I also aim to improve the success of ELLs at UC Davis, and to create a foundation to help TAs learn best practices for teaching this population at UC Davis for years to come.
What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? I was motivated to start this project from conversations I've had both with fellow teaching assistants and with the English language learning students I've taught in my ESL courses. A project that helps to bridge understanding and communication between two groups of students on campus is my goal.
Ph.D. Candidate, Education
Research Interests: Asian American students in higher education, Hmong American students, culture and education, and ethnic studies
PFTF Project Title: "Women/Non-Binary People of Color Scholars Inclusion (WOCSI) Project"
PFTF Project Description: This is a joint project with PFTF fellow Jeanelle Hope. Our overall project is to bring women/non-binary people of color scholars (faculty and graduate students) engaging critical race and ethnic studies together and create lasting relationships. We will build an intellectual community, mentor graduate students, increase the visibility of our scholarship, and document our experiences. For this project, my focus is on the January conference that is dedicated to strategizing and understanding how to navigate academia.
What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? This project was inspired by my own personal experience as a woman of color in a doctoral program at UC Davis and that of my colleagues. I’ve learned in graduate school that having a community is important for understanding the academic ivory tower. My hope is that this overall project will be the community for current and future graduate students as they complete their program and beyond.
Cuauhtemoc Quintero Lule
Ph.D. Candidate, Native American Studies
Research Interests: The intersection between Yaqui history and cosmology; Classical NÄhuatl learning/teaching strategies; colonial era Mexican history
PFTF Project Title: "Guidance for Graduate Students on the Autism Spectrum"
PFTF Project Description: For my Professors for the Future project, I am offering a series of workshops/presentations in a safe, comfortable, and accepting environment, intended to assist students on the autism spectrum during their time in graduate school. I hope to build upon the important work previously accomplished by Professors for the Future participants in the area of disabilities in 2014-2015 (specifically, that of Henry "Hoby" Wedler), but with an emphasis on students who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The workshops/presentations proposed under this project will be offered on campus with the aim of providing valuable information to guide autism spectrum students; they will help to equip students with skills and tools that will enable them to properly and successfully advance through their graduate education and participate as fully as possible in their academic experience.
What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? As a graduate student diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, I have encountered some challenges throughout my academic trajectory. This has encouraged me to help others, who might face similar circumstances, succeed and navigate their graduate experience more effectively.
Ph.D. Candidate, Spanish
Research Interests: Latin American and Caribbean cultural studies; Gender and sexuality studies; Digital humanities; Community-based scholarship
PFTF Project Title: "Incorporating Digital Humanities to Research and Pedagogical Practices: Digital Storytelling and Academy-Community Collaboration"
PFTF Project Description: Digital Humanities envision the promise of bridging humanistic scholarship with digital environments as a conduit for renewal and transformation of knowledge-production practices and pedagogical approaches at higher education institutions (Burdick, 2012). Digital Storytelling is a methodology that stems from this paradigm of mediatizing humanistic enquiry that not only seeks to integrate new media into theoretical debates and methodologies but also aims to democratize the production of knowledge. In this integration of community members as active collaborators of epistemic production, also referred to as Community-Based Scholarship, the presence of unheard actors becomes a central element in the construction of stories. On a pedagogical level, digital storytelling can be integrated into course curricula as project assignments in which students build a short video with their own audio visual materials to engage more personally on a given study. For this purpose, I propose to conduct a three-day workshop in which participants a) learn more about digital humanities, b) acquire the theoretical and methodological tools for digital storytelling, c) receive hands-on training on the assemblage of digital stories, and d) discuss the ethical considerations of employing digital storytelling as an academic methodology for humanistic scholarship.
What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? My previous collaborations in digital storytelling projects inspired me to think critically about the way in which knowledge production and transmission take place at UC Davis.
Ph.D. Candidate, Population Biology
Research Interests: Quantitative ecology and evolution, science education, conservation biology, marine ecology
PFTF Project Title: "An Introduction to R and Other Computational Tools"
PFTF Project Description: Computational skills are an increasingly important component of a graduate student's toolbox. However, there is often a disconnect between what graduate students are expected to know in graduate school and what was required of them in their undergraduate programs. Often, students are simply expected to pick up the skills they need. Of course, these tools come with steep learning curves and can be frustrating to learn alone. R is one of the most popular software tools in many fields. Similar to learning a foreign language, learning R requires interactive, hands-on education. In order to address this gap, I propose to conduct a series of workshops on R and other computational tools. In total, I would conduct a 4-part computational tools workshop series. Each part would last half a day. Two parts would be focused on providing students an introduction to programming in R. The next two parts would focus on version control software and using Bash command line, two additional useful tools. All of these tools can dramatically make a graduate student's life easier.
What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? I am passionate about teaching, especially teaching difficult material. My formal academic background is as computational and mathematical biologist. I was fortunate early in my career to learn the importance of these skills. In turn, I have a passion for teaching complicated ideas and tools to people. I currently serve as a Volunteer Instructor for the Software Carpentry non-profit group. In my role, I travel to universities to teach groups of graduate students and faculty important computational tools. I would like to tailor my knowledge of these tools to students at UC Davis.
Want to Learn More About Professors for the Future?
Graduate Studies will be accepting nominations for the 2018-2019 Professors for the Future Fellowship Program starting next month. Fellows design and complete a project that benefits other graduate students or postdoctoral scholars on campus, participate in program-sponsored activities throughout the year, and receive a $3,000 stipend.
Learn more about the eligibility criteria and selection process by visiting the PFTF website.