Doctoral and Junior Faculty Programs

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program – School of Engineering and Applied Science

The National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program was developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. PhD scientists and engineers who will pursue careers in research and education, with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become, in their own careers, leaders and creative agents for change. Offering traineeships to students pursuing their PhDs, the program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.  It is also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to a world-class, broadly inclusive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce.  Columbia University is home to four IGERT programs: 

Solving Urbanization Challenges by Design: A New PhD Program Between Architecture and Engineering - School of Engineering and Applied Science

The goal of this IGERT program is to integrate architectural and engineering PhD education in a new interdisciplinary program that aims to fundamentally transform design and planning approaches to contemporary urban expansion. IGERT trainees will make use of emerging science and technology research at the interface of architecture and engineering to develop new paradigms that enable urban areas to adapt to changing requirements, absorb disturbance and effectively reorganize and recover, and reduce their impact on the natural environment.  Collaborations with universities in urban environments located within Europe, Africa and Asia will provide a global perspective to the program. This IGERT program will graduate a cohort of diverse doctoral students who can help shape the policies, priorities, and investments needed for contemporary urbanization. Participants include students and faculty from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, School of International and Public Affairs, Mailman School of Public Health, and Earth Institute. 

Engineering Photons for a Sustainable Future – School of Engineering and Applied Science

This IGERT program facilitates the unique interdisciplinary training of PhD scientists and engineers in the field of sustainable and renewable energy solutions. The energy economy is an immediate and grand challenge that must be tackled by current and future generations of scientists and engineers.  This program addresses this challenge by focusing on technology innovations in two subsystems of direct relevance: next-generation solar photovoltaics, and next-generation efficient optical data and communications networks.  The cross-training scientific research is synergistically integrated with innovative educational approaches and an emphasis on underrepresented groups.  Working with major industrial partners, the IGERT will conduct outreach to undergraduate and K-12 schools in Harlem and Nashville, encouraging underrepresented groups to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas of higher education.

From Data to Solutions: A New PhD Program in Transformational Data & Information Sciences Research and Innovation – School of Engineering and Applied Science

This IGERT program provides PhD students with the interdisciplinary training necessary to extract useful information from vast amounts of collected data.  Consumer opinions, information on disease and its symptoms, and breaking information on social websites allow information gathering on a scale previously unknown.  Columbia University and the City University of New York, in collaboration with international partners in Argentina and Brazil, have created a new program involving the interdisciplinary training of students in making sense of big data.  Researchers from Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Psychology, and Statistics are partnering with Biomedical Informatics, Business and Journalism to educate this next generation of information scientists. Aided by advisors from large corporations, major research labs, and small start-up companies, the program encourages IGERT trainees to pursue patents, and to apply their research in society. A major goal of the program is to attract more diverse students to information sciences by emphasizing real world applications, a supportive environment, and diverse faculty role models.

Optical techniques for actuation, sensing, and imaging of biological systems – School of Engineering and Applied Science

In this IGERT program a new generation of scientists and engineers will be trained through a set of five research thrusts that cross three fundamental core competency areas: optics, photonics, and sensor electronics; biomolecular detection and cellular-level analysis; and applications to medicine and public health. With 19 faculty members representing academic departments across Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Arts and Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Teachers College, and incorporating strong interaction with City College, Queens College, and The Cooper Union in New York City, IGERT trainees will experience a truly diverse community sharing in integrated educational and research activities and will be exposed to a wide spectrum of cutting-edge applications. This program fulfills a compelling need to train a diverse workforce of U. S. scientists and engineers trained in an area of large and growing competitive importance to the United States. Significant resources are committed to ensuring recruitment and retention of participants from underrepresented groups.


Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) – Mailman School of Public Health

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), an education project funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who enter research careers in public health. The program supports eight doctoral students with one to two years of research mentoring, tuition benefits, and funding to attend scientific conferences. 

HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators – School of Social Work

Columbia University’s HIV Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators (HISTP), funded by National Institutes of Mental Health, is a multidisciplinary training program that seeks to develop and facilitate the growth of scientists from underrepresented groups conducting HIV-related dissemination and implementation research.  The program’s goals are to address the urgent need to increase dissemination and implementation research to ensure that effective HIV prevention interventions are delivered to the communities that need them, and to train a new generation of HIV researchers to conduct such research to make a major impact in reducing new HIV infections, particularly among communities of color.  Fellows participating in the program receive two years of support via an innovative dual mentorship structure, training seminars, workshops and institutes, pilot study support, and grantwriting assistance.  The program utilizes a distance learning approach which allows junior faculty from across the U.S. to participate from their respective institutions.