History of the Professional Development Program (PDP)

The Professional Development Program (PDP) was developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO) Education & Human Resources program in 2001. The CfAO was funded through the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center (STC) program, and the PDP was a cornerstone of the Center’s innovative programs and thriving community. The PDP was originally open only to the CfAO’s graduate student and postdoc community, but demand grew and the PDP expanded to serve new disciplines and institutions.

The PDP is now open to scientists and engineers at all levels (including faculty members and other professionals), although the primary audience is still graduate students. In 2008, UC Santa Cruz recognized the success and high demand for the PDP and committed institutional resources to sustain the program beyond the original STC funding. The Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators was formed, and the PDP continues to serve the UC Santa Cruz community, as well as many national and international partners.

The PDP paused in 2020 due to challenges related to COVID, as well as changes to funding and leadership within ISEE. We are pleased to bring the program back in 2024, buoyed by the enthusiasm of our alumni community and their commitment to ISEE’s goals.