2017-2018 PFTF Fellows

Professors for the Future: Meet the 2017-2018 Fellows (Part Two)

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.


Jeanelle K. HopeJeanelle K. Hope
Ph.D. Candidate, Cultural Studies

Research Interests: Afro-Asian studies, Black and transnational feminisms, Black queer theory, social movements, Blacks in the west, and oral history

PFTF Project Title:  "Women of Color Scholars Inclusion Project" 

PFTF Project Description: The Women of Color Scholars Inclusion (WOCSI) will organize women of color scholars across the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), particularly Hart Hall, conducting research on the aforementioned areas. We will build an intellectual community, mentor graduate students, increase the visibility of our scholarship, and document our experiences. Beginning in the fall, we will host several networking events, colloquia spotlighting new and cutting edge work in the field, develop a one day research forum for women of color scholars to present their research to the broader campus community, and finally, begin compiling the experiences of women of color faculty at UC Davis via focus groups and qualitative surveys, resulting in a report that the university can draw from to improve the climate for women of color scholars.   

What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? My (and those of my peers and other faculty) experience as a woman of color scholar on campus. 

Alli Injaian​Alli Injaian
Ph.D. Candidate, Animal Behavior

Research Interests: Noise pollution impacts on wildlife

PFTF Project Title:  "Inclusive Mentorship: A Workshop Series for the Graduate Student and Postdoc Communities"

PFTF Project Description: Through PFTF, I am creating a multi-part workshop based on the Entering Mentoring program that will be specifically oriented towards providing graduate students and post docs from all disciplines the opportunity to gain inclusive mentorship skills. For each workshop, panelists from on-campus diversity-promoting programs will be present, to provide attendees with information about their organization, challenges often faced by the community in which they serve, and resources that can be distributed to mentees, when appropriate. The workshop topics (e.g. communication skills, setting goals and expectations, identifying & resolving challenges, evaluating progress as a mentor, and developing a mentoring philosophy) will be specifically tailored to promoting inclusivity, and the panelists will be asked to highlight any points that are of particular importance for the population in which they work. Discussion will be encouraged during all workshops.

What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? I believe that it is important for the graduate student and post doc communities to mirror and promote UC Davis’ mission for inclusivity through personal action and relationships with the undergraduate community – which can be brought out through mentoring. At large institutions like UC Davis, graduate students and postdocs often mentor a diverse group of undergraduate students that intern on their research projects or with whom they interact through teaching assistantships. Yet, most graduate students and postdocs do not receive training on how to be effective mentors, especially to students that may be facing particular adversities. Although it is possible for graduate students and postdocs to gain inclusive mentorship skills through personal experiences with mentees, training that accelerates the process of being an effective and confident mentor to a diverse group of students would maximize efficiency and preparedness.

​Lauren Jabusch​Lauren Jabusch
Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Systems Engineering
Research Interests: 
Algae, biofuels, technoeconomic analysis

PFTF Project Title:  "Political Engagement for Academics"

PFTF Project Description: In the wake of a Trump presidency, academics no longer have the luxury of appointments and federal respect to promote their research. Active engagement is needed to protect scientific progress, access to high quality education for people of diverse backgrounds and economic levels, and researched social and economic perspectives. Lack of leadership with integrity, experience, and educational foundation in high offices like the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Education creates a major cause of concern for academics of all disciplines. Overall, there is an urgent need to prepare academics for intensified political engagement.

What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? I have felt my professional and academic potential stifled by the new federal policies and I know that my colleagues, no matter their personal politics, are worried too. Instead of accepting this fate, I believe we must be bolder and take full advantage of our positions and academic capabilities.

Divya KernikDivya Kernik
Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Engineering
Research Interests
: Computation Approaches to Understanding Cardiac Arrhythmia

PFTF Project Title:  "Explain it to a Fifth Grader: Developing Scientific Communication Through Community Outreach"

PFTF Project Description: My PFTF project will be a seminar series on scientific communication, which culminates in an opportunity for graduate students to explain their research to elementary students. The goal of the series is to provide the tools needed to break down complex STEM research into bite-sized pieces. This project will consist of a four-part series with the goal of providing the skills graduate students need to communicate their thesis project to elementary students. 

What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? Science skepticism is reaching new heights, and it is more important than ever to pique the next generation’s interest in the STEM fields. While most graduate students agree with this principle, it is difficult to bridge the gap between scientific passion and the simplicity required to communicate to a general audience. I hope my proposed project will provide an opportunity to facilitate STEM outreach in the Davis community, and energize a science communication effort that continues beyond this project. I have been dedicated to STEM advocacy and outreach, through various organizations, since I began my undergraduate degree. As a UC Davis Biomedical Engineering Student Association community outreach co-chair for the past 2 years, I have been working on STEM outreach in the Davis community, and I am looking forward to continuing that progress through my Professors for the Future project.

Coy McNewCoy McNew
Postdoctoral Scholar

Research Interests: Fate and transport of engineered nanomaterials, identification and quantification of pollutant transport pathways, preferential flow pathways; environmental data science and meta-analyses 

PFTF Project Title:  "Defining your Research Question: the All-Important First Aspect of Research Design"

PFTF Project Description: One of the hardest, but also most exciting, components of the transition from undergraduate to graduate student is the sudden freedom and responsibility of designing and executing independent research.  My project will help students with the all-important first aspect of research design, carefully choosing and defining your own research question.  Presented in a two part series, the project will consist of a seminar on the procedure of defining your own research question, followed by a discussion and Q&A panel composed of experts at varying levels of their careers.

What inspired or drove you to pursue this project? As undergraduate students, we become so used to being told exactly what to study that when we reach the M.S. or Ph.D. level and are suddenly thrust into this academic arena where we must decide our research goals for ourselves, we can easily feel overwhelmed.  The process of defining my own Ph.D. research topic through a long trial and error approach until I finally had a clear and well-defined research question negatively affected my early graduate career.  Through this project, I hope to facilitate the transition from student to researcher, allowing graduate students to avoid a common hurdle early in their graduate careers.

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.

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