Summer Research Workshop for Early-Career Scholars Gets Underway

Pilot program to help participants win more grants means to make up for pandemic-era disruption

July 5, 2022   |   By Karen Rivedal, WCER Communications

A pilot program to help early-career scholars in the School of Education (SoE) and WCER win more grants kicked off in June after months of development by staff, including WCER grant editors.

Senior Editor Molly Wesling helped determine program offerings by researching the most successful elements of similar workshops at higher education institutions around the country, while former Senior Editor Kurt Brown helped expand the initial concept and shepherd the developing proposal through the school approval process.

PROWESS, short for PROposal Writing for Early-career Scholar Success, opened with an organizational meeting on June 15 and had its first regular session June 29.

Spearheaded by Associate Dean for Research Dorothy Farrar Edwards, who oversees all SoE research and envisioned the initial concept, this intensive, six-week workshop is meant to support assistant professors and research scientists hired in and since 2019, when the COVID-19 pandemic meant fewer hands-on, in-person mentoring opportunities were available to them.


Dorothy Farrar Edwards

“Our junior faculty experienced the greatest disruption,” Farrar Edwards says. “They missed the opportunity to explore the campus, meet new people and learn how to navigate our research infrastructure.”

That matters, as winning a grant isn’t getting any easier.

“Extramural funding has become much more competitive,” Farrar Edwards notes.

“It takes a significant amount of time and effort to prepare an application, and learning that your project has not been reviewed or not funded is disheartening,” she says.

PROWESS is calling upon the expertise of faculty and staff from across SoE and the university to try to help ensure better outcomes. The program includes five, 2-hour instructional seminars and three writing groups, plus mentor meetings and a mock review of grant applications prior to participants’ submission of a real proposal by August 2023.

Participants are receiving help with identifying funding opportunities, summer salary support, an introduction to pre- and post-award resources, grant writing skills development, mentor identification, and peer support.

Proposal topics that participants will develop and seek funding for through the workshop revolve around issues such as early childhood education programs for families of color; restorative justice initiatives to decrease suspensions of students of color; educational policy amid armed conflict in Colombia; methods to increase enrollment in health-related fields for youth with disabilities; and mobile games as a means to help people stop smoking.

“We are very excited about the depth and breadth of participants’ scholarship, and about this opportunity for them to build research skills, professional connections, and peer support,” Farrar Edwards says.