Cornell FIRST

Principal Investigator: Avery August

Co-PI: Michael Kotlikoff

Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Sponsor: NIH-National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Grant Number: 5U54CA267738-02
Title: Cornell FIRST
Project Amount: $5,141,750
Project Period: September 2022 to August 2023

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

Cornell University aims to increase the number of minoritized faculty in the biological, biomedical, and health sciences through establishing an NIH FIRST Program at Cornell University. Cornell FIRST will support the hiring and retention of 10 new assistant professors from groups underrepresented in their fields, while transforming institutional climate into a culture of inclusive excellence. The strength of Cornell’s program is its foundational roots as a complex private institution with a public mission, with its founding based on support for diversity, a culture of interdisciplinary research, and a track record of catalyzing change at different scales that were institutionalized. Given Cornell’s success in establishing programs for the effective development and support of early-career faculty, particularly those underrepresented in their fields, Cornell is in an excellent position to test the hypothesis that FIRST Cohort faculty will be successful in an environment that supports advocacy through sponsorship, consistent and individual-centered mentoring, and evidence-based professional development. We further hypothesize that Cornell’s institutional culture and scientific excellence will be enhanced with the hiring of a FIRST Cohort of diverse faculty. Cornell’s FIRST program features interdisciplinary hiring of faculty underrepresented in their fields, across six colleges and 20 departments, with a focus on retention, career development, and evaluation. Cornell proposes 1) to hire a diverse cohort of 10 new faculty into 3 research clusters, taking advantage of Cornell’s existing interdisciplinary field system approach where faculty are organized by research interest rather than by department, within broad areas of quantitative biomedical sciences, infection biology, and health equity; 2) foster sustainable institutional culture change using novel combinations of institutional policies that impact hiring, mentoring, promotion and tenure, salary equity, and other initiatives aimed at enhancing compositional diversity, retention, and success; 3) enhance faculty development, retention, progression, and promotion building on Cornell’s track record of successfully developing and implementing cutting edge programs that effectively support faculty through their career, particularly those underrepresented in their fields; and 4) to evaluate and learn from our hiring, climate, and faculty development approaches by identifying which strategies and activities are most effective and sustainable at an institutional scale assessing our progress to ensure that they are developed and implemented in an effective manner, and effectively interact with the FIRST CEC. We expect that the Cornell FIRST program will successfully hire, retain, and support 10 new faculty underrepresented in their fields, while fostering sustainable institutional culture change to support inclusive excellence. Cornell FIRST will increase faculty diversity in the biological, biomedical, and health sciences while contributing to the diversity of academy, and future generations of the STEM workforce.