In 2011, IUPUI’s Office for Women and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research partnered to launch EMPOWER, an enhanced mentoring program designed to support the research advancement of historically underrepresented and/or excluded populations. Ten years and 270 participants later, the program continues to play an integral role in helping IUPUI faculty achieve personal growth and professional success.
IUPUI’s EMPOWER marks 10 years of supporting historically underrepresented and excluded researchers and scholars
“Participation in the EMPOWER program has been instrumental to the success I have had in my career in establishing myself as an adolescent and minority health researcher,” said Tamika Zapolski, an associate professor in the IUPUI School of Science. “The program provided me structured and focused mentorship with an amazing mentor and scholar who was able to connect me with youth and minority-serving community organizations that were instrumental to the work I was able to complete.”
EMPOWER supports women and minority faculty in becoming more successful researchers, provides them with seed funding to develop projects that could receive external funding, and helps with career and professional development advice and support. Assistant professors are paired with tenured associate professors, or higher, and associate professors with full professors for an academic year. Mentors assist with the development of an agenda for research and creative activity with the aim of making an application for external funding.
Over the last 10 years, EMPOWER faculty have received more than $16 million in external grant funding and prizes, and many participants have successfully advanced through the promotion and tenure process.
“Mentoring through EMPOWER is a very rewarding professional experience, allowing us to be part of the success of IUPUI faculty who are attempting to reach important goals, such as tenure and promotion or promotion,” said Silvia Bigatti, a professor in the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. “We are contributing to the growing diversity of the IUPUI faculty, and it is a learning and growth experience for us mentors as well. It may contribute to establishing collaborations with our mentees or others that would not have happened otherwise.”
EMPOWER offers a structured path for mutually beneficial experiences for both the mentor and mentee, while also allowing for deeper and lasting relationships to be established and maintained even beyond the program year.
“My mentorship relationship has continued long past the EMPOWER program, with my mentor also serving on my NIH-funded mentored grant,” Zapolski said. “The established relationship through EMPOWER undoubtedly strengthened my grant application by showing that a relationship had been established through EMPOWER that would be further developed through the NIH grant.”
Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort are being accepted through December 10. Mentors and mentees can apply together as a preselected team, or individuals will be matched with a mentor.
EMPOWER is a partnership between the IUPUI Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Office for Women. The program is co-administered by Etta Ward, assistant vice chancellor for research development; Alicia Gahimer, programs and operations manager in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; and Kathleen Grove, director of the IUPUI Office for Women.