Welcome to the PennPORT Program!
Penn - Postdoctoral Opportunities in Research and Teaching (PennPORT), an NIH sponsored, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) postdoctoral fellowship, supported by the NIH division of NIGMS awarded August 2007.
The NIH sponsored PennPORT program combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience at the University of Pennsylvania with a mentored teaching experience at a partnering institution. The Program is designed to provide an opportunity for postdoctoral appointees to develop their teaching skills. An integral part of the program is formal instruction in pedagogical methods from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Teaching and Learning. Postdocs will also be able to take advantage of the many research and career success skills training programs provided by Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs (BPP).
The partnering institutions are Delaware County Community College, Lincoln University and Rutgers University Camden Campus. All institutions are minority serving institutions in the Philadelphia locality. The PennPORT program is intended to enhance research-oriented teaching at partner institutions, foster collaboration in research and teaching between the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and that of partner minority-serving institutions, and encourage undergraduates to enter a career in biomedical research. Since we wish to provide role models for the undergraduates at our partner institutions, candidates from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.
Eligible postdocs must provide proof of a doctoral degree and must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents. We provide health benefits, stipend, support for research and teaching supplies, course development, and travel to attend two professional meetings, one being the IRACDA annual conference. The tenure for each fellowship is three years.
To learn more, see the PennPORT alumni highlights in Science Magazine! Teaching Postdocs to Be Professors - Science Careers - Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers
Stay tuned for when we will host our next Virtual Recruitment Session!
Fellow Spotlight Featuring Alexandre "Alex" Harris
I have been in research for over a decade, and the thrill of generating brand new information while pursuing my passion for life sciences has been an irreplaceable experience. My academic journey began at the University of Arizona where, at the end of high school, I studied the ecology of intracellular endosymbiont infections in microscopic parasitoid wasps. During my undergraduate years at Arizona State University, I continued to work with insect systems, this time studying the behavior of seed harvester ants before ultimately conducting a thesis project that once again investigated endosymbionts, but in the seed harvesters. When I arrived at Penn State for my PhD, I found myself at a crossroads—I wanted to study large human datasets, but lacked the training to do so. I was extremely fortunate to find a burgeoning population genetics lab where I learned how to code, as well as apply my new skills towards unlocking the secrets of the genome. This work sent me to a variety of conferences, including one that allowed me to meet my current mentor, Sarah Tishkoff. In the Tishkoff lab, I study the gut microbiomes of participants from across sub-Saharan Africa. It is my hope that the results of this work can be translated towards healthcare interventions, since the gut microbiome is a fundamental component of human health, and since people from this part of the world have been unfortunately understudied in science, resulting in disparities that manifest as greater incidence of disease, worse outcomes following diagnosis, and shortened lifespans.
Throughout the different stages of my scientific career, there was always a single constant that I could never avoid: non-scientists—the beneficiaries of research—were too often disconnected from the work, either lacking the understanding or care for results that directly impacted them. From an early stage, I understood that my position as a scientist provided me with leverage to address this issue, and my desire to become an educator subsequently blossomed. Thanks to PennPORT, I have enjoyed the amazing opportunity to enhance my pedagogical skillset, learn and grow with colleagues who are similarly committed to meeting the needs of diverse learners, and invite the next generation of brilliant scholars into the world of science and research. As part of my training, I taught microbiology at Delaware County Community College, and designed a course in human genetic diversity at Rutgers University in Camden. Working with students from these two distinct communities taught me how to respond to the needs and learning styles of people from a variety of backgrounds, and helped me to develop universal approaches that benefited all my students. However, the most important lesson I learned to teach was self-confidence. I encouraged students to reflect on their progress throughout the semester, and offered multiple chances for retesting, make-up points, and one-on-one interaction. When students understand the value of their education on a personal level, they benefit on multiple levels. They become more willing to take chances, they see themselves as part of the scientific community, and they are able to pass on their enthusiasm to create a wide-ranging ripple effect.
To anyone looking to make a meaningful impact with their degree, I highly recommend applying to PennPORT. As I enter my final year with the program, I often find myself remembering the transformative moments I spent with my students: the times when the spark of curiosity ignited a burning flame of inquisition, the instances when new skills coalesced and opened paths towards new possibilities, the points when someone exceeded their own expectations and felt a wave of well-deserved pride wash over them. I am extremely grateful for my time with PennPORT, and for the career-shaping benefits that I have received as a fellow under Jan’s guidance.