Preparing graduate students, postdocs, and professionals to be inclusive leaders in STEM


The Professional Development Program (PDP) is a flexible, multi-year program for scientists and engineers, with a primary focus on graduate students and postdocs.

PDP participants receive training in professional skills, including leadership, education, mentoring, project management, collaboration, and communication, as they work together in teams to design and teach an authentic and inclusive STEM learning experience for college-level learners. Participants engage in two multi-day workshops (the Inquiry Institute and Design Institute), work independently with their team, and then put their skills into practice as they co-teach the activity they designed in an ISEE-affiliated educational program or course. The PDP has a rigorous approach that is designed to fit with participants’ demanding research schedules. Many PDP alumni choose to attend more than one year, returning to lead a team of new participants.

To learn about the 2025 application and dates join the ISEE email list HERE.

PDP 2024 dates:

  • Inquiry Institute (Monterey, CA): April 3-6, 2024

  • Design Institutes: Participants attend one of two institutes:

    • Design Institute (Hilo, HI): April 25-27, 2024

    • Design Institute (Santa Cruz, CA): May 6-8, 2024

  • Teaching experiences take place during summer-fall 2024

Click here for more details about the PDP. 

The 2024 PDP is being co-led by Candice Brown, ISEE Assistant Director and PDP Director, and Anne Metevier, Director of Lick Observatory College Partnerships and PDP Associate Director. 

 Cost of PDP participation: $4500   plus travel. Travel awards and fee waivers are available to many participants that qualify.


PDP alumni report that they gain:

  • Improved professional skills: leadership, project management, collaboration, communication
  • Belonging within a community that is dynamic, enduring, and rare
  • Transformative, inclusive and authentic teaching and learning experience
  • Strong pedagogical foundation that supports effective and inclusive mentoring
  • Enhanced qualifications for advantages in fellowship, grant, and job applications, awards, and promotions
  • Access to a large network of experienced leaders in STEM and STEM education

The PDP has over 600 alumni, many of whom have continued to stay involved with the community for over two decades.



"My experience in the PDP allowed me to (re)discover my love of learning and exploration of the world, recognize the diversity issues I was facing as a STEM graduate student, and build a community that supports me to this day…Participating in the PDP gave me a vision of what it could be like for me in science and engineering." PDP alum, now a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  

Links to learn more


Want to know more: The ISEE PDP community published a volume about the PDP community: Advancing Inclusive Leaders in STEM: Twenty Years of the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (2022) 


The 2024 ISEE Professional Development Program is primarily funded by grant monies from the  National Science Foundation Astronomy Division (AST#1743117) to ISEE (PI: L. Hunter); the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, through a grant to the University of California Observatories (PI: B. Macintosh); and the Heising-Simons Foundation, through a grant to ISEE (PIs: L. Hunter and J. Lu).

Please send an email to ISEE@ucsc.edu with questions about the PDP.
To donate to the PDP see ISEE’s Giving page.