ENHANCE is an NSF-supported collaborative effort to “Enhance the Career of Female Faculty in Earthquake Engineering Research” (NSF awards 1141421, 1141442, 1141450, 1141452, 1141458, 1141478). This collaborative proposal builds upon previous successful efforts supported by NSF with the goal to enhance the careers of academic women in earthquake engineering research through mentoring, empowering, supporting, promoting and networking (nationally and internationally). The term “academic women” herein includes tenured and tenure-track faculty members, research faculty, post-doctoral students and senior graduate students. This goal will be achieved (i) by one-on-one and group mentoring of junior tenure-track, recently tenured and research faculty in the US through workshops for successful proposal and paper preparation, as well as through discussions and insights related to issues of women in engineering; and (ii) by creating a national and international community for academic women in earthquake engineering research through the establishment of a private website using the unique Information Technology (IT) capabilities of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).


This narrative focuses on the first goal of the project, highlights the associated activities and solicits applications to the mentoring program.


Mentors and NSF Fellows


Approximately 15 junior tenure-track, recently tenured and research female faculty in earthquake engineering will be selected from the pool of applicants to this solicitation and assigned a Mentor from the project PIs. As per NSF’s agreement, the successful applicants will receive the title “NSF Fellows”. The project’s PIs are listed below along with the link to their respective websites:


Prof. Rachel Davidson, University of Delaware



Prof. Catherine French, University of Minnesota



Prof. Anne Kiremidjian, Stanford University



Prof.  Ellen Rathje, University of Texas at Austin



Prof. Carol Shield, University of Minnesota



Prof. Sara Wadia-Fascetti, Northeastern University



Prof. Aspasia Zerva, Drexel University



Highlights of the Mentoring Part of the ENHANCE Project


We expect that there will be regular, on-going interactions between Mentors and NSF Fellows throughout the entire project (and beyond). Specific mentoring activities to be undertaken by this effort include:


March 2013 – Year 1 Workshop: A 3.5-day workshop at a US conference center will take place in October of 2012 with the Mentors and the NSF Fellows. The workshop will include topics such as: presentation of case studies of projects and of Mentors’ careers; publishing opportunities; discussion of differing perspectives on applied and basic research; discussion of funding opportunities; the basics of successful proposal development; research project management; other forms of scholarly output, including research in peer-reviewed journals, books, technical reports, and commissioned studies; networking; participation in technical committees and panels, and public service. In addition, the workshop will include discussions of issues related specifically to being a woman in engineering, such as, families and careers, why women are still underrepresented in engineering, why it matters, what universities have done to address the problem, what has worked and what has not, and what an individual woman in engineering can do to maximize her chance of success.

A writing task will be assigned to the NSF Fellows during this workshop. The assignment is that, upon their return to their home institutions, they will prepare a real proposal or paper, which will eventually be submitted for funding or publication. This proposal/paper will undergo a solid review process by the Mentors and the results will be communicated to the NSF Fellows. The process will facilitate the preparation of proposals and papers by the Fellows. For example, an untenured NSF Fellow may work on her CAREER proposal and the Mentor may help by providing constructive criticism, or a tenured NSF Fellow may expand her research horizons by collaborating with the Mentor on proposals and papers.


March 2014 – Year 2 Workshop at NSF: The second workshop, to be held at NSF, will evaluate the results of the mentoring and introduce additional aspects that need to be addressed by the Mentors. The technical issues that will be addressed during this second workshop include, e.g., specific suggestions for improving individual proposals and articles; assistance in responding to proposal and article reviews; opportunities for future collaborations, and continued networking and communication among participants. Furthermore, the discussions on women issues, initiated during the first workshop, will continue and be expanded with new topics.


May 2014 … Mentoring will continue throughout the project and, hopefully, create lasting relationships among the Mentors and Fellows.


Travel Expenses and Stipends


The ENHANCE project will cover the NSF Fellows’ travel expenses for the two workshops. In addition, at the end of the second workshop, each of the Fellows will be provided with a $1,000 stipend for their professional development.



Qualifications of Fellows


Fellows must be female faculty conducting research in earthquake engineering at US institutions. In this project, the term “tenure-track, recently tenured and research faculty” includes untenured assistant professors, research assistant professors, and lecturers, and faculty tenured recently (at most two years before the date of the application deadline).


Application package


The application package should be sent electronically as a single pdf file to enhance@drexel.edu  and contain the following information:


1.       The applicant’s contact information including mailing address, phone number, and e-mail.

2.       A professional resume including educational background, current and past appointments, list of publications, list of grants received and pending, teaching and committee responsibilities, and service and volunteer activities.

3.       A description (1,000 words or less) of your current research, research interests, and teaching, and how they can potentially contribute to questions related to earthquake engineering. If there is a Mentor with whom you are particularly interested in working, please indicate it in this description.

4.       Short essays (200-400 words each) in response to each of the following:

a.       Why do you think it will be beneficial for you to be selected as an ENHANCE Fellow at this stage of your career?

b.      What are the three most important professional goals that you would like to accomplish in the next five years?

c.        Provide some additional information (not included in your resume and the above questions) that you feel will strengthen your application.

5.       Optional supportive material that represents samples of your work; please limit this material to at most two examples.


In addition, two letters of recommendation are required, one from a colleague at the applicant’s current Department/University and one from a faculty familiar with her academic qualifications. These letters should be sent electronically directly to enhance@drexel.edu and contain the applicant’s name on the subject line.


Application Deadline


The deadline for applications to the ENHANCE project is October 31, 2012. It is anticipated that the selection of the Fellows will be announced in December 2012.




Please address any questions that you may have to enhance@drexel.edu .