I completed my post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alabama at birmingham as in the MERIT program. MERIT stands for Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction, and Teaching. This means that my post-doctoral training included all of the traditional research aspects and an additional teaching component that comprises 25% of my time and effort. The MERIT program is funded by the NIH through the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA), which is a K12 grant that funds teaching-focused postdoctoral programs across the country. IRACDA fellows take additional coursework on pedagogy and course development and build partnerships between research intensive institutions like UAB, with primarily undergraduate serving institutions such as Oakwood University, the partner school I worked with.
The MERIT program is a unique program that has prepared me for a faculty position at an undergraduate institution. I have honed my research skills, mentored students and designed my own course. I have learned how to develop a course curriculum that will motivate students and make science more accessible; as well as had teaching experiences that have enabled me to discover and develop my teaching style. Working side-by-side with my teaching mentor on multiple undergraduate courses gave me the opportunity to brush up on subjects that I haven’t had much exposure to during my years in graduate school and I feel confident that I can teach a wider variety of subjects because of MERIT.