This proposal requests continuation of the PERT program (Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching) based on its programmatic goals, demonstrable achievements, and planned refinements.
PERT aims to increase participation of members of underrepresented minority groups in careers in biomedicine, biotechnology, and the life sciences. A partnership between a Research I University, the University of Arizona (UA), and a Minority Serving Institution, Pima Community College (PCC), PERT trains young postdoctoral scientists, many of whom are underrepresented minorities, for tenure-track careers in the life sciences. The 3-year training combines independent research under the mentorship of a UA faculty member, classroom teaching at PCC under the mentorship of a PCC faculty member, and the recruitment of PCC students to work on the trainee's research and under the trainee's mentorship in a university setting. Postdoctoral trainees spend one semester auditing a PCC course and the following semester teaching it under the supervision of the PCC instructor. The life sciences curriculum at PCC has benefited from the infusion of expertise brought by the postdoctoral trainees to their classroom teaching, the new courses developed by trainees with PCC faculty, modern laboratory equipment provided by the PERT program, and the career development of the PCC faculty. The minority students receive research-oriented classes with updated content at PCC and gain hands-on experience doing research in a university environment under the tutelage of a role model. The confidence they gain from a successful experience facilitates their transfer to the university to pursue a degree in the life sciences. Hence this program benefits not only the postdoctoral trainee, but also every level that the trainee comes into contact with - the host laboratory and research mentor;the faculty and students of the community college, and the trainee's future employer. PERT provides skilled, well-prepared individuals for the workforce at the same time increasing the diversity of talent in that workforce.
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