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What is the SPIRE program?

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education program is an innovative postdoctoral fellowship program for Ph.D. scientists who are interested in balancing research and teaching careers. SPIRE’s mission is to provide multi-dimensional professional development for science researchers and educators to succeed in academic careers, to bring engaging teaching methods into the classroom, and to increase diversity in science professions.

What is a postdoctoral program?

A postdoctoral program, or “postdoc”, is an experience offered by academic and research institutions to Ph.D. scientists after they complete graduate school. It is research-oriented, and is a training stage for scientists to gain greater knowledge and experience, make connections, and build a reputation within the science profession. The Ph.D. scientists, commonly known as “postdocs” “fellows” or “scholars” also improve their publication record, which is needed to progress to a permanent position.

What makes SPIRE innovative?

While traditional postdoctoral experiences are one hundred percent research focused, SPIRE provides scholars with a multi-dimensional experience that includes research, an opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduates at one of four partner institutions in North Carolina that partner with SPIRE, and professional development activities and workshops.

What do SPIRE Scholars gain from the partnerships with North Carolina’s minority serving institutions?

  • Hands-on experience as a member of faculty
  • Mentoring and guidance from experienced faculty and administrators
  • Opportunities to directly mentor undergraduates

How do undergraduates at partner institutions benefit from SPIRE?

  • Engaging science instruction through active teaching techniques of SPIRE scholars
  • Knowledge of scientific research and state-of-the-art techniques imparted by SPIRE scholars
  • Opportunities to pursue mentored research internships at UNC-Chapel Hill, where they can learn more about the science profession and learn research skills
  • Activities designed to promote undergraduate interest in scientific research, i.e. the Annual SPIRE Distinguished Scholar Seminar

What happens to SPIRE scholars once they complete the program?

SPIRE scholars leave the program as:

  • Science professionals skilled at balancing research, teaching and service
  • Scientists achieving research accomplishments equal to those of traditional postdocs
  • Educators using innovative techniques to engage students
  • Academicians securing tenure-track positions
  • Scholars contributing to diversity in science careers

How does SPIRE benefit the community at large?

  • Contributes to the high standard of scientific research at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Creates effective educators who are better prepared to enter academic life
  • Addresses diversity in science
  • Influences the future of science