September 14, 2022

New research faculty support group launches Sept. 30

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faculty support group 1Heersink School of Medicine research faculty are invited to attend a new faculty support group beginning Friday, Sept. 30.

Hosted by Heersink’s Office for Faculty Affairs and Development, the support group will offer networking, brainstorming, and conversations around work/life balance.

Alecia Gross, Ph.D., assistant dean for Faculty Affairs and Development, and Laura Volpicelli-Daley, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology, are spearheading the effort.

The group was formed to unite research faculty who often work independently unless they collaborate on research work.

Volpicelli-Daley suggested the meeting after identifying a need in her own work to find and facilitate support with other research faculty members.

Issues of isolation for researchers, clinicians, and teaching faculty have been unearthed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new pandemic era is exposing the need to build and strengthen relationships among peers and colleagues.

Tika Benveniste, Ph.D., senior vice dean for Research, said: "I am excited to see this initiative launch and offer camaraderie for our research-intensive faculty. It’s been imperative for my own career to have encouraging colleagues by my side to discuss research ideas, professional development, and mentoring. I hope this support group will be a place Heersink School of Medicine research faculty can connect and get to know others around the school.”

Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim senior vice president for Medicine and dean, also expressed support for the new group and encouraged attendance for the pilot meeting. "The new research faculty support group is a much-needed space for researchers. I encourage them to exchange ideas and get to know one another. The goal is to meet regularly and break out of the day-to-day silos,” he said.

"We want research faculty to have a place to express concerns but also to meet friends, hang out, and connect,” said Gross.

Volpicelli-Daley and Gross stated that the lunch support group is participant-driven. They both expressed enthusiasm to discuss any topics that may come up organically.

Volpicelli-Daley said a few topics might include:

1) Sharing advice regarding students and staff on topics such as mentoring
2) Providing support, encouragement, and experience on grant funding
3) Professional development
4) Work/life balance

Participants should bring their own lunch and plan on informal discussions.

The group will meet in Shelby 1015 on the fourth Friday of every month, starting with its first meeting Sept. 30. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and lasts until 1:30 p.m. Participants can come and leave as their schedule allows.

Faculty Affairs will begin the support group series with faculty researchers as a pilot and then launch groups for clinicians and teaching faculty at another time if there is a need or desire.