APA program supports early career psychologists’ research on HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS disproportionally affects African-Americans: 47 percent of new infections are
among this population and the death rate
from HIV among this group is higher than
APA’s Cyber Mentors Program supports
early career researchers, ideally from
ethnic-minority groups, who are studying
HIV among underserved communities.
Established in 2008, the program pairs
successful applicants with senior researchers
for two years of one-on-one and group
learning and mentoring.
“It’s critically important that we train
excellent scientists from affected groups,
who are more likely to understand the
contextual factors contributing to these
disparities,” says Ann O’Leary, PhD, a
program steering committee member
who works with the Division of HIV/
AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Cyber Mentor participants join online
career development seminars on research
methodology, ethics and administration
with the ultimate goal of developing research
proposals and securing federal funding.
The psychologists submit their applications
for a mock peer review, and can apply for
up to $5,000 to help kick off their research
efforts. Mentees also attend a workshop at
APA’s Annual Convention, where they’re
introduced to leaders in the field.
Training programs like Cyber Mentors go
a long way in helping to diversify the cadre
of independent scholars that receive federal
funding, says Tiffany Townsend, PhD,
director of APA’s Office of Ethnic Minority
Affairs. She cites a 2011 study in Science that
found National Institutes of Health (NIH)
grant applications from white scientists were significantly more
likely to be funded than those from black scientists.
“Training and mentoring programs are important,
especially for minority scholars, but unfortunately they can
be expensive for everyone involved, especially face-to-face
meetings. We’re piloting a new distance training model to
increase training while reducing costs,” she says.
The program has graduated 38 mentees. Among their
applications for NIH grants, the agency funded 41 percent; to
compare, the overall NIH grant success rate was 19 percent for
Cyber Mentors offers rolling admissions. To apply, go to
— Stacy Lu