New postdoctoral program will train aspiring educational researchers


Andrew C. Butler, chair and associate professor in the Department of Education in Arts & Sciences, and collaborator Gary Ritter, dean and professor in the School of Education at Saint Louis University, won a $3.5 million award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation (JSMF) to support a joint postdoctoral training program. The new program, Saint Louis Translational Fellowships in Education, will be funded for six years and support six postdoctoral fellows per year.

“We’re excited to provide opportunities for early career researchers to obtain the training needed to pursue careers working at the nexus of educational practice and academic research,” Butler said. “There is a need in the PK-12 educational system for individuals who understand how to collaboratively conduct rigorous educational research to address problems of practice, and, though this is a national issue, we’ve seen that this need is particularly acute in the Saint Louis region.”

Saint Louis Translational Fellowships in Education will enable aspiring educational researchers to acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to transition into careers of service to the PK-12 education system. The program will recruit individuals who have recently completed doctoral training for a two-year fellowship that will include coursework, research, and experience working in schools. Diverse cohorts of postdoctoral fellows will be able to learn from each other while also enabling the formation of the multidisciplinary research teams needed to tackle the most challenging problems facing schools.

Partners in the effort include WashU’s Institute for School Partnership, the Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) Center, and the St. Louis School Research-Practice Collaborative. These organizations have meaningful partnerships with K-12 schools in the St. Louis region, are focused on creating equitable outcomes for children, and are uniquely positioned to support fellows to do impactful translational research, Butler said.

“There is still a lot of planning of development to do, but we have an amazing team assembled to pull it together, including individuals in different units across WashU, as well as collaborators from St. Louis city schools and local universities,” Butler said. “This is an exciting opportunity that builds on and enriches the important work that’s already happening in the St. Louis education community.”