IRACDA is an acronym for “Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award.” It is UCLA’s unique blend of teacher training that includes courses, seminars and workshops combined with career preparation and mentored research in a UCLA PI’s lab along with a formal, mentored teaching experience at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). IRACDA is funded primarily by the new UCLA IRACDA grant of which Drs. Michael Carey and Tracy Johnson are PIs at UCLA, while Dr. Katrina Yamazaki is the teaching coordinator at our partner institution CSULA.
A major goal of the program is to produce a workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with a strong commitment to teaching diverse undergraduates, particularly at institutions that have a history of training underrepresented students. Another goal is to foster research interactions and collaborations between the institutions partnering in the program.
The purpose of the IRACDA program is to train a diverse group of postdocs in college level teaching and research to fulfill national workforce needs in STEM. Therefore, effective training in teaching and research as well as career development are essential.
UCLA is a member of the CIRTL (Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning) network: (http://www.cirtl.net/), whose online seminars are integral components of our training curriculum. IRACDA scholars will be awarded CIRTL certificates, documenting their achievements at multiple stages during the four-year program.
Importantly, in addition to preparing IRACDA scholars for teaching at the college or university level, this elite educational experience supports the research of IRACDA scholars through strong and consistent faculty mentoring.
Specific information about the teaching, research, and career training for IRACDA can be found on our Training Requirements page.
IRACDA scholars will engage in a mentored teaching experience at CSULA while conducting research with their faculty mentors at UCLA. How does this breakdown by year?
Typically, year 1 of the fellowship involves nearly full time research in your faculty mentor’s lab at UCLA. You will begin training in teaching by participating in CIRTL@UCLA courses and CEILS workshops.
In year 2 of the program, you will continue CIRTL@UCLA and CEILS training, observe either a biochemistry, biology, or physiology course at CSULA in the fall or spring semester, and give two-weeks worth of lectures under the mentorship of one of three CSULA faculty. You are expected to travel to CSULA once per week, interacting with and assisting your CSULA teaching mentor at various times during the semester. In addition, you will collaborate with other IRACDA scholars to facilitate a weekly undergraduate journal club at CSULA during the fall term. IRACDA scholars rotate weeks in which they teach the journal club (schedule TBA by year).
In year 3, you will present half of the lectures of a full semester course at CSULA under the mentorship of the same CSULA faculty member from year 2. Now equipped with CIRTL/CEILS training, you are expected to incorporate innovative pedagogical techniques into your lectures as well as conduct a Teaching-as-Research project in which you will assess the techniques you try in the classroom. On days that the lectures are occurring, you will be expected to spend up to half a day at CSULA as you will be needed for office hours and other administrative tasks associated with teaching your course. Most current courses that IRACDA scholars will co-teach are scheduled to meet only two days per week although some are offered three days per week. Fellows will know their teaching assignments well in advance of the term they are teaching so research and other activities can be planned accordingly.
In year 4 of IRACDA, you will spend the vast majority of your time in your UCLA research lab finishing up your projects and publications. You may still participate in the CEILS and CIRTL activities, with the option to present your Teaching-as-Research project conducted during year 3, earning your CIRTL Scholar level certification. Importantly, you should begin looking for job opportunities.
Year 1 is mainly research. Teacher training also begins in year 1 but requires only a modest amount of time to perform online training and attend the weekly learning community meetings.
In years 2 and 3, you are expected to perform research at UCLA on days when you are not at CSULA. You are also expected to be at UCLA to perform research either before or after CSULA classes and office hours. Learning how to properly manage your time and fulfill both research and teaching obligations is an essential skill for becoming a successful professor and is a major objective of the IRACDA program. You should enroll in time management seminars at the UCLA Career Center as advertised on UCLA’s Career Hub and the CIRTL@UCLA Career Zone.
Year 4 of the program is dedicated to research and preparing job applications.
Overall, while funded by IRACDA, 75% of every IRACDA scholars effort over the course of 4 years is dedicated to research and the other 25% to training and teaching.
The IRACDA program is suited to prospective or current postdocs with less than 1.5 years of postdoctoral experience (calculate this timeframe based on the prospective start date for an IRACDA fellowship), who are US citizens or permanent residents, whose career goal involves teaching at a college or university, and who demonstrate a commitment to diversifying the workforce by teaching and mentoring underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences.
If you are on the fence about an academic career or are strongly contemplating a career in industry, this program may not be the right fit for you due to the level of commitment required to complete all aspects of the training curriculum and the teaching practicum, and in meeting IRACDA program objectives.
The program is open to all beginning postdocs and we particularly encourage applications from individuals underrepresented in the biomedical workforce.
An IRACDA program selection committee will evaluate your application for suitability for the program based on your CV, statement of interest, research summary, nomination letter, and two letters of recommendation. Qualified candidates will then be interviewed by the selection committee and by the CSULA faculty, one of whom we will likely assign you to for the mentored teaching experience depending on your compatibility with the teaching mentor’s course.
We encourage you to participate in UCLA’s CIRTL program and in CEILS activities. This training will prepare you for college and university teaching, whether you are part of IRACDA or not. Completion of CIRTL training requirements would qualify you as CIRTL associates, practitioners, or scholars, depending on how far you progress during your postdoc.
Please email email@example.com for further details about this option. Our campus CIRTL coordinator will work with you to identify teaching experiences on UCLA’s campus to help you earn your CIRTL certification.
IRACDA is intended to be a 4-year program where your UCLA research mentor funds you for the first year and IRACDA funds years 2-4.
Specifically, your UCLA faculty mentor will pay your first year salary and benefits. For postdocs who have already begun their postdoctoral appointment and are within at least 9 months but less than 2 years of their initial postdoctoral appointment start date, your mentor will have already met their obligation and you will be likely be placed on IRACDA funding immediately.
In years 2-4, your research mentor will make up the small difference between IRACDA allocation and your full salary/benefits as a UCLA postdoc. Note that the IRACDA funding will be re-considered each year and you will be funded only if you have successfully met the program obligations as assessed by the IRACDA leadership in consultation with research and teaching faculty mentors.
IRACDA Research Mentors: Your major obligation is to fund the first year of the scholar’s postdoctoral appointment from your research grants or other non-federal funds. In years 2-4, your obligation is to make up the difference between the IRACDA funding and the UCLA postdoctoral salary/benefits level using non-federal funds.
You should expect high quality research from your IRACDA scholar. However, all mentors should also be familiar with the training and teaching commitments of the scholars. IRACDA objectives are different than T32 training grants. T32 grants provide primarily one or two years of funding for research. The IRACDA program, as it currently stands, will provide up to three years of salary/benefit support. Applicants to this program will have already decided that teaching is their passion and a central component of their academic career objectives. As mentors, we expect quite a bit of research from postdoctoral level scientists, but we understand that our goal is also to provide our trainees with skills that allow them to successfully transition into the workforce. IRACDA gives each postdoc valuable skills that will benefit them when applying for academic positions with teaching as a significant component of the job description.
There will be some time dedicated to teacher training and career seminars. Occasionally, such training will conflict with group meetings or research seminars. IRACDA will attempt to minimize such conflicts but an understanding of IRACDA objectives and flexibility by the mentor is essential. Additionally, during the teaching practicum at CSULA, postdocs will be missing from lab one day per week for one semester in year 2 and a second semester in year 3. The fellows will be instructed in time management by a CSULA faculty member who completed the IRACDA program at UCSD and managed to publish multiple papers in their field during their postdoctoral appointments. We will work with CSULA faculty teaching the courses to ensure that there is some flexibility so fellows can best meet their research obligations during their teaching practicum. This balance works very well at UCSF, UCSD and Stanford, who host IRACDA-funded programs and have established cultures compatible with IRACDA’s objectives.
Still have questions? Email us at UPLIFT@mednet.ucla.edu