Mathematician Ranthony A.C. Edmonds has spent the past few years shifting from trying to be the mentor she never had to becoming the mentor that a person needs. The inaugural ASCEND Mentor Network Workshop Fellowship Conference held at Carnegie Mellon University helped her on that journey.
“The Mentor Network is supporting its fellows through inclusive and holistic mentoring,” said Edmonds, a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University. “They support us in being equity-minded scholars and provide workshops to support our mental health and wellness and challenges we may face as early career scholars.”
The Mathematical and Physical Sciences Ascending Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (MPS-ASCEND) program supports postdoctoral fellows who will broaden the participation of members of groups historically excluded and currently underrepresented in MPS fields. Fellows are funded for two to three years. The first group of fellows began in 2021, and the second group started in 2022.
The ASCEND Mentor Network is separate from the fellowships but will connect the fellows with resources, interdisciplinary interactions, mentorship, and diverse perspectives. The network spans four universities with Carnegie Mellon being its home. The partnership includes Iowa State University, Tuskegee University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Fellowship Conference, held Feb. 8-10, was hosted by the Mentor Network’s leadership team, which is led by Michael Young, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Mellon College of Science, and includes Alaine Allen, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the College of Engineering, who are part of the ASCEND leadership team.
Had a great day 1 at the ASCEND mentoring conference! pic.twitter.com/PMiiVHsJMn— Ranthony A.C. Edmonds, PhD (@RanthonyEdmonds) February 9, 2023
“It was an honor to host all of the ASCEND Fellows,” Young said. “The conference went very well and was quite productive. The fellows are all doing amazing research and making substantial contributions to the broader scientific community, so it was a treasure to host them on our campus. I’m very proud of the engagement of our MCS and Engineering faculty, and the participation from so many people from the provost’s office.”
While at the workshop, postdoctoral fellows networked, outlined individual development plans for professional goals, and attended NSF leadership talks.
“I greatly enjoyed the workshop, and it was a real pleasure to see these young scientists with such great futures ahead of them,” said Kathleen McCloud, a physics program director for the NSF.
Edmonds said she left the workshop knowing she was not alone on her academic journey.
“There was an interdisciplinary poster fair along with workshops on how to be a research mentor and establish norms for a lab you might be leading, but there were also financial planning sessions and restorative yoga in the mornings,” Edmonds said. “Our keynote speaker also addressed pointedly what it can be like to navigate spaces as an equity-minded scholar, which I found rejuvenating.”
Katy Rodriguez Wimberly, an ASCEND fellow at the University of California Riverside, said the workshop was incredibly valuable.
“It was inspiring and motivating to get to know the Mentor Leadership team more,” said Rodriguez Wimberly, who studies near field cosmology and galaxy evolution. “How they center equity and excellence in their careers and in their mentorship work is really empowering and shows me there’s hope to do similarly in my career. It was also so incredible to build community with my fellow ASCEND postdocs. I love feeling like I’m now truly in a network of really kind, fun, hard-working folk who all are striving to be equally excellent scientists and equity advocates.”
More events will take place later this year virtually and at other ASCEND leadership institutions, including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tuskegee University, and Iowa State University. The next Fellowship Conference will be held October 4-6, 2023, at Iowa State University.
These fellows are a brilliant, engaging, and inclusive group of scholars who will make positive contributions to the institutions where they choose to work. Our NSF ASCEND Mentor Network team is honored to get to know them and support their professional journeys.Alaine Allen, Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
“It was an honor to have the Inaugural 2021 and the 2022 National Science Foundation MPS-Ascend Postdoctoral Research Fellows on the Carnegie Mellon University campus,” Allen said. “These fellows are a brilliant, engaging, and inclusive group of scholars who will make positive contributions to the institutions where they choose to work. Our NSF ASCEND Mentor Network team is honored to get to know them and support their professional journeys.”