COPH welcomes two MCH postdoctoral scholars

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The USF College of Public Health’s postdoctoral enhancement component of the five-year Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training Grant welcomes two new postdoctoral scholars in 2018, Dr. Taylor Livingston from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr. Nicholas Thomas from Tulane University.

Their COPH appointments began in January and continues through 2020. During their time in the program, the scholars will create a leadership plan, teach courses, participate in faculty committees and MCH seminar workshops and pursue their individual research interests.

Dr. Martha Coulter, principal investigator for the grant, and Dr. Karen Liller, co-director of the postdoctoral enhancement component, will complete monthly assessments with the scholars to discuss how they are doing in the program, track their goals and help them plan for the future.  Both Coulter and Liller are professors of community and family health at the COPH.

Dr. Karen Liller and Dr. Martha Coulter (Photos courtesy of the USF COPH).

Drs. Karen Liller and Martha Coulter (Photos courtesy of the USF COPH).

“I think it is important to have postdoctoral scholars because there is this period of time in between being a doctoral student and  being a faculty member where it’s really helpful to have this transition,” Coulter said. “It allows them to not only to have the time to get more solid publications, presentations and experience in teaching, but to also be able to develop their own sense of academic leadership.”

The program was modeled after the USF Graduate School’s Doctoral Student Leadership Institute created by Liller during her tenure as dean and associate vice president for research and innovation.

The scholars will also track their goals, grants and publications received throughout the program in a database created by Dr. Abraham Salinas-Miranda, research faculty and visiting research scholar in community and family health.

“We’re going to continue updating the database even after the scholars leave. Yearly, we will send them an update asking about their grants, publications, career trajectory, committees they are serving on, leadership activities, if they are mentoring and more,” Liller said. “We want to follow them throughout their careers.”

Coulter said that both of the two previous scholars, Dr. Ellen Schafer and Dr. Takudzwa Sayi, appreciated the program’s approach which helped them prepare in a more holistic way to become faculty members in the future. Schafer is presently an assistant professor at Boise State University and Sayi is the principal investigator on a Grand Challenges Exploration grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Our postdoctoral program is unusual because normally these programs focus mainly on research. For our program we not only focus on research, but also teaching and mentoring skills,” Liller said. “We really want to create the next generation of leaders in maternal and child health. So far we believe it has been a success!”

Both Coulter and Liller are excited to see Schafer and Sayi start a new journey in their careers and look forward to seeing how their two new scholars embrace the program.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health