CCHD Postdoctoral Fellowship

The postdoctoral training provides opportunities to Trainees for advanced coursework, exposure to cutting-edge developmental science research through Proseminar presentations, small seminars, workshops, and supervised research training in at least two settings over a two-year period. Because of the diversity of persons who enter the program, the nature of the coursework and the level of research involvement are tailored to each individual Fellow by his or her Advisory Committee. The training sequence ordinarily extends over two years, but in unusual circumstances a shorter training program may be planned. No additional advanced degrees are offered by the Consortium, although it is possible for Fellows to become enrolled in the degree-granting programs of constituent departments and schools. Such decisions are made by the Fellow in consultation with his or her Advisory Committee of the training faculty. The components of the two-year Consortium postdoctoral program are described in terms of five key features of our training.

  • Consortium Postdoctoral Advisory Committee
  • Consortium Proseminar
  • Research Seminars
  • Special Workshops, and Colloquia
  • Supervised/Collaborative Research
  • Consortium and Individual Courses

Consortium Postdoctoral Advisory Committee

All Fellows establish Advisory Committees upon entry into the program. The purpose of these committees is to provide guidance and approval for the Fellows’ research plans and course of study, as well as evaluation of their success in meeting these goals (discussed further below, under Training Evaluation). The Advisory Committee consists of the Trainee’s primary and secondary Mentors, one of the Training Directors, and two other relevant faculty members, at least one of whom is from a disparate but complementary discipline. This Committee helps design, in consultation with the Fellow, the course of study and research supervision. It meets with the Fellow at least two times per year to determine progress and to evaluate the appropriateness of the original plan. If adjustments are called for, either in the program of study or in the composition of the Advisory Committee, these may be made with the approval of the Training Directors. Each Advisory Committee will also evaluate the progress of the postdoctoral Fellow and recommend to the Training Directors and Co-Directors whether the stipend should be renewed.  In addition, the Mentors of the Fellow’s Advisory Committee work to ensure that there is adequate support for the Trainee’s research and act as informal external reviewers for Trainee publications as needed. The Advisory Committee is available throughout the Fellow’s tenure for consultation and assistance. This formal aspect of the training program also has proven to be effective in ensuring that early in their experience the postdoctoral Fellows become closely acquainted with research programs and ideas of persons represented in the Consortium.

Applicants are always welcome to select among our faculty to identify potential mentors and to create their own mentoring teams.  For postdoctoral fellows, primary mentors should be full professors or equivalent, although secondary mentors may come from any rank.  Examples of potential postdoctoral training opportunities and mentors include the following.

Using biomarkers to advance our understanding of developmental outcomes (developmental   psychopathology, life course models of health, health-risk behaviors)
Vangie Foshee (Public Health, UNC-CH)Terrie Moffitt (Clinical Psychology, Duke University)Mike Shanahan (Sociology, UNC-CH)
Developing longitudinal statistical methods to advance our understanding of   developmental processes
Patrick Curran (Quantitative Psychology, UNC-CH)Dan Bauer (Quantitative Psychology, UNC-CH)Ken Bollen (Sociology,    UNC-CH)
Creating and evaluating developmentally-Informed interventions
Deborah Jones (Clinical Psychology, UNC-CH)Mary Haskett (School Psychology, NCSU)Jill Hamm (Education, UNC-CH)
Developmental Psychopathology through adolescence
Andrea Hussong (Clinical Psychology, UNC-CH)Terrie Moffitt (Clinical Psychology, Duke University)Mitch Prinstein (Clinical Psychology, UNC-CH)
Positive developmental processes and the formation of gratitude
Jennifer Coffman (Developmental Psychology, UNC-CH)Phil Costanzo (Clinical/Developmental/Social Psychology,   Duke)Amy Halberstadt (Developmental Psychology, NCSU)Andrea Hussong (Clinical Psychology, UNC-CH)
Developmental approaches to understanding learning and achievement in context: the interplay of child-, family-, and school-level factors
Beth Kurtz-Costes (Developmental Psychology, UNC-CH)Stuart Marcovith (Developmental Psychology, UNC-G)Peter Ornstein (Developmental Psychology, UNC-CH)Lynne Vernon Feagans (Education, UNC-CH)

Consortium Proseminar

The CCHD established a Proseminar series that is designed to provide advanced interdisciplinary training in human development, and its meetings constitute a foundation for all activities of the Carolina Consortium. The Proseminar series includes a weekly, Monday class and then a presentation. Faculty serve as “Facilitators” to the class, which includes the speaker and the Fellows. The class is then followed by the presentation, which has open attendance. Typically, the distribution of regular participants is approximately one third faculty members, one third Fellows, and one third affiliated PhD-level researchers and doctoral students. The participants tend to represent the diverse disciplines of the Consortium, including education, epidemiology, medicine, neurobiology, nursing, public health, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and social work. In keeping with the distinctive focus of the training program, these meetings tend to emphasize the primary themes of longitudinal study, life-course development, interdisciplinary integration of health and behavioral research, and applications of research to real-life issues.

The goal of the Proseminar has been to undertake a critical analysis of the central issues of developmental science, and the series has been the intellectual center of the Consortium. Each semester a committee of Mentor faculty representing diverse disciplines along with relevant Fellows designs a semester around a specific theme or question. Speakers from diverse disciplines whose work is relevant to these issues are invited to speak. Speaker selection maintains a balance between members of our faculty and outside visitors. Each speaker receives a letter of invitation that outlines a set of questions to be addressed in his or her talk. The questions are constructed by the committee and ask the speakers to consider the implications of their work. The Consortium Fellows are actively involved in the selection of themes and speakers. They meet with each speaker in an afternoon class and then assume responsibility for leading each Proseminar evening session. Whereas many changes have been made across the 20 years of the CCHD Training Program, evaluations demonstrate that participants continue to view the series as very effective in providing opportunities for intellectual exchange in a congenial atmosphere. Visiting scientists have been equally enthusiastic and supportive.

Research Seminars, Special Workshops, and Colloquia

The Consortium Fellows also 1-2 times per month to discuss issues that are central to their own research projects and professional development. These meetings are organized for and by the Fellows and co-Directors. In addition, special workshops and colloquia are held periodically to address common areas of interest, to provide more intensive training or exposure to new techniques or concepts, and to become more familiar with the work of visiting scholars and scientists. Activities have included journal clubs, sets of special workshops and tutorials on developmental statistics, a series of presentations on research projects that merge biological and social frameworks and measures, a workshop on the history of developmental science, and a series of workshops on securing grant support for research.

Supervised/Collaborative Research

Another key to our success in training postdoctoral Fellows has been the high level of research productivity of the Mentor faculty. These research programs provide opportunities for collaboration among Fellows and faculty members. We have found that postdoctoral Fellows fit very rapidly into ongoing projects, a process that is facilitated in part by an application procedure in which potential appointees outline specific plans in conjunction with one or more faculty members. Preparation of their proposals ensures that the applicants are aware of the options available to them and that they have experience in detailed preliminary planning with potential Mentors. If necessary, these plans may be modified.

One major advantage of having the research laboratories of the Consortium Mentor faculty within a limited geographic locality is that it permits freedom of movement. Fellows may take part in quite different research programs and settings within reasonable driving distances. Their participation in these research programs can be concurrent or sequential. The members of the training faculty believe that persons in advanced training will gain fresh ideas and approaches from one another, both in the context of the laboratory and in informal discussions about their work. In fact, some movement between laboratories is required, along with participation in the Proseminars and research workshops.

Consortium and Individual Courses

In addition to the Proseminar, other advanced seminars are available to postdoctoral Fellows, depending on their needs and interests. The training faculty members are aware that an overload of courses may preclude research involvement and thereby defeat the central goal of the program — namely, to produce highly qualified researchers in diverse areas of human development. In this regard, it is anticipated that recent PhDs from behavioral, educational, and sociological programs will have covered much of the material required as a prerequisite. However, it is also acknowledged that the training provided by this program on the context of development and longitudinal study is distinctive in its emphasis and scope. Accordingly, postdoctoral Fellows who do not have sufficient previous training will be directed by their Advisory Committees to courses or seminars that will provide coverage of critical material. These will be taken early in the training program.

Because of the great diversity in the Fellows’ backgrounds, the respective Advisory Committees must consider each individual’s distinctive research goals and needs. With our history of training postdoctoral candidates from a number of disciplines, we have some understanding as to what activities are most profitable and when they should be put in place.

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