New leadership academy prepares mid-career faculty for research success

8/9/2023 2:19:57 PM Amy Clay-Moore

Mid-career faculty are an often overlooked group for faculty development. Having passed one of the most significant milestones of their careers, common wisdom suggests that they have all the tools they need to do their jobs well. They have established their research labs, developed their syllabi, and have even amassed research funding and publications.

The Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (IHSI)’s Maggie Berg was among the research development professionals on campus who recognized an opportunity to invest in mid-career faculty development, and in turn, invest in the University of Illinois’ research enterprise.

“Mid-career faculty have different needs than early-career faculty regarding mentoring and support. Researchers in this stage of their career might be faced with transitioning their research program to be more responsive to current issues, funding opportunities, or their own interests. This may be a time when they start to consider campus leadership roles or take on leadership of large, multi-PI projects.”

IHSI is well positioned to address these needs for the University of Illinois community. From grant seeking programs like the NIH Grant Writing Series to fostering community and clinical partnerships, IHSI has been supporting Illinois health sciences faculty for the better part of a decade.

To expand that support to faculty across disciplines, Maggie and the IHSI team reached out to colleagues across campus to gauge interest in a program focused on the unique needs of mid-career faculty that will support development of leadership and management skills and encourage the application of those skills to research.

The result was overwhelmingly positive. Stakeholders from across campus came together to support and develop the Emerging Research Leaders Academy. IHSI Director Stephen Boppart was impressed with the response.

“Our campus is an incredibly fertile environment for faculty research excellence. IHSI is privileged to partner with other campus interdisciplinary research units and colleges to develop the Emerging Research Leaders Academy,” he said.

With support and input from Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, The Center for Social & Behavioral Science, College of Applied Health Sciences, Grainger College of Engineering, and the Office of Proposal Development, IHSI developed a year-long program that provides vital leadership and team science training to help faculty pursue large, multi-PI grants, lead campus research initiatives, enhance their own research programs, and ultimately position Illinois for research excellence.

Throughout the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semesters, participants will attend a series of monthly, in-person workshops on topics such as strategic leadership, mentoring, building diverse and inclusive teams, effective research communication, and leading and managing teams. Each participant will also develop a five-year action plan and receive recognition as an Emerging Research Leadership Scholar upon completion of the program.

IHSI received over 50 nominations from department heads and directors associated with more than 35 units across campus. From those nominations, fifteen outstanding participants were chosen for the inaugural cohort. IHSI is proud to introduce the first cohort of the Emerging Research Leaders Academy.

Congratulations to the 2023 – 24 Emerging Research Leaders

Richard Benton, School of Labor and Employment Relations

Chris Brooke, Department of Microbiology

Mark Davis, Illinois Natural History Survey

Ying Diao, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Beckman Institute

Kaiyu Guan, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

Carla D. Hunter, Department of Psychology

Halil Kilicoglu, School of Information Sciences

Colleen Lewis, Department of Computer Science

Tara Leytham-Powell, School of Social Work

Laura Mattie, Department of Speech & Hearing Science

Annette McCoy, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine

Erik Nelson, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Laura Rice, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health

Andre Schleife, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Jodi Schneider, School of Information Sciences

Boppart sees this new program as a boon to the University of Illinois research enterprise. “This new faculty development program will support our tenured faculty who are poised to expand their research and leadership skills beyond their own laboratories and bring about new interdisciplinary multi-investigator center- and program-level ideas that will leverage the incredible breadth and depth of expertise and resources that we have here at UIUC. IHSI is grateful for the strong and positive response we have had from campus units and faculty and look forward to building this academy to help further elevate the research excellence we all pursue.” he said.