Mark Moldwin, a space physicist and engineer who has served as the principal investigator on multiple space missions, will lead a new office designed to provide core services, support and resources to more than 1,400 postdoctoral fellows across the University of Michigan.
His appointment as the university’s inaugural director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is effective immediately.
OPA, announced in January by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Rackham Graduate School, will support postdoctoral research fellows across disciplines as they prepare for future careers.
The OPA team also will guide and advise departments and programs about best practice policies, processes and services related to the employment and well-being of postdoctoral fellows.
“As a leading public research university, it is absolutely essential that we continue to provide our research fellows with ‘a seat at the table’ so they can help develop guidance and strategies that promote wellbeing and expand access to resources,” said Moldwin, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering in the College of Engineering.
“Understanding the unique roles and responsibilities of postdoctoral fellows across diverse disciplines, schools and colleges is critical to ensuring their overall success. Each and every one of them plays a critical role in advancing our academic and research mission, which is why I am incredibly excited to lead the newly launched Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.”
As director of OPA, Moldwin will collaborate with faculty and staff from across U-M’s Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses to provide support and infrastructure for the postdoctoral fellows community.
He and his team will collaborate with U-M partners to host orientations for new postdocs, provide professional development and career counseling, policy implementation and oversight, as well as emergency funding and conflict resolution.
Moldwin, who received a Ph.D. in astronomy from Boston University, joined U-M in 2009 and has served on the dissertation committees for more than 50 doctoral students throughout his career.
During his 15-year career at U-M, Moldwin has held multiple faculty leadership positions, often with a focus on increasing justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Moldwin will maintain his CoE faculty appointments, and he will continue to serve as director of the college’s undergraduate education academic program.
“Supporting the success of our next generation of scholars is a central part of our mission as a leading public research university,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and innovation.
“Over the past 30 years, Mark Moldwin has exhibited a strong track record of supporting undergraduate and graduate education, and I am confident that he will play an essential role in enhancing the culture for postdoctoral fellows across our three campuses.”
Executive director of NASA’s Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Moldwin has co-authored more than 200 academic publications that focus on physics and space science. His research interests include magnetospheric, ionospheric and heliospheric plasma physics, as well as college space science education and outreach.
Moldwin and his colleagues also led the development of magnetometers for several space missions including NASA’s Space Technology-5 mission, NASA’s Artemis Lunar Gateway, and NASA’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation.
Moldwin also co-founded A2 Motus LLC, an education and research technology company developing devices to enable teachers and students to better understand complex systems through kinesthetic activities and space weather monitors.
“Having been widely recognized for excellence in his teaching, research, and service, Mark will bring an ideal combination of scholarly expertise and experience in mentoring students and postdocs to this position,” said Rackham Dean Mike Solomon.
“His demonstrated commitment to supporting postdoctoral fellows and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion will further the important goals of the new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.”