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Biosocial Predoctoral Training Program

Predoctoral trainees must be current UNC graduate students nearing completion of coursework in their home discipline and be ready to significantly enhance their training with interdisciplinary coursework, seminars, and a research apprenticeship. Students from any academic program are eligible to apply.

Directors and Mentors

Program Directors

Robert Hummer

Robert Hummer


Allison Aiello

Allison Aiello


Program Faculty

Full NameEmail AddressDepartment
Allison Aielloaaiello@email.unc.eduEpidemiology
Amanda Thompsonalthomps@email.unc.eduAnthropology
Andrew Olshanandy_olshan@unc.eduEpidemiology
Audrey Pettiforapettif@email.unc.eduEpidemiology
Barbara Entwisleentwisle@unc.eduSociology
Barry Popkinpopkin@unc.eduNutrition
Carolyn Halperncarolyn_halpern@unc.eduMaternal & Child Health
Chantel Martinmartchan@email.unc.eduEpidemiology
Chirayath Suchindransuchi@bios.unc.eduBiostatistics
Christy Averychristy_avery@unc.eduEpidemiology
Claire Yangyangy@unc.eduSociology
Clare Barringtoncbarring@email.unc.eduHealth Behavior
Dan Belskydaniel.belsky@duke.eduPopulation Health Sciences
Donna Gilleskiedonna_gilleskie@unc.eduEconomics
Duncan Thomasdthomas@econ.duke.eduEconomics and Public Policy
Elizabeth Frankenbergelizf@email.unc.eduSociology
Eric Whitseleric_whitsel@med.unc.eduEpidemiology
Guang Guoguang_guo@unc.eduSociology
James Moodyjmoody77@soc.duke.eduSociology
Jenny Tungjenny.tung@duke.eduEvolutionary Anthropology
Joanna Maselkojmaselko@email.unc.eduEpidemiology
Jon Husseyjon_hussey@unc.eduMaternal & Child Health
Karen Mohlkekaren_mohlke@med.unc.eduGenetics
Kari Northkari_north@unc.eduEpidemiology
Katherine Weisshaarweisshaar@unc.eduSociology
Kathleen Mullan Harriskathie_harris@unc.eduSociology
Kenneth Bollenbollen@unc.eduPsychology & Neuroscience; Sociology
Krista Perreirakrista_perreira@med.unc.eduSocial Medicine
Liana Richardsonliana_richardson@unc.eduSociology
Linda Adairlinda_adair@unc.eduNutrition
Lisa Keisterlkeister@soc.duke.eduSociology
Michael Emchemch@unc.eduGeography
Penny Gordon-Larsenpglarsen@unc.eduNutrition
Rebecca Fryrfry@unc.eduEnvironmental Sciences & Engineering
Robert Hummerrhummer@email.unc.eduSociology
S. Philip Morganpmorgan@unc.eduSociology
Stephanie EngelStephanie.Engel@unc.eduEpidemiology
Steven Meshnickmeshnick@email.unc.eduEpidemiology and Microbiology & Immunology
Whitney Robinsonwhitney_robinson@unc.eduEpidemiology

Program Requirements


Incoming pre-doctoral trainees assemble a team of two co-mentors. At least one of the mentors must be from a discipline that is different from the pre-doctoral home department.

The team will meet regularly to review the trainee’s progress in meeting goals, to offer recommendations about new activities and opportunities, and to provide professional guidance as the trainee prepares grant and job applications.

Each trainee will also be assigned to the funded research project of one of our training faculty. We are particularly cognizant in assigning trainees to projects that “do integration”; that is, ideally, the projects include faculty from both the health/biological and social sciences and are producing manuscripts that lead to presentation and publication in diverse scientific disciplines, while also maintaining work that can be published in their home disciplinary area.

Trainees are expected to devote 10 hours per week to the project to which they are assigned as an apprentice (or collaborator for post-doctoral trainees); such a practicum is expected to result in enhanced research productivity for both the trainee and the project and will serve as important hands-on training ground for integration. These practicums last for one year, after which trainees may or may not be re-assigned depending upon annual reports from both trainees and project principal investigators.

Course Requirements

Pre-doctoral trainees are expected to complete a total of 17 hours of coursework. A model course schedule for a 3-year pre-doctoral trainee is shown below.  More information on highly recommended courses to fulfill the required credits below can be found here.

Model Course Sequence for Pre-doctoral Trainees

Year 1

Introductory Integration Course (3 credits) Emphasis Area Course II (3 credits) Dissertation Proposal Writing
Emphasis Area Course I (3 credits) Emphasis Area Course III (3 credits) Annual Training Program Symposium
Thursday Professionalization Workshop (1 credit) Thursday Professionalization Workshop OR Friday Research Seminar Research Practicum (10 hours/week)
Research Practicum (10 hours/week) Research Practicum (10 hours/week)

Year 2

Advanced Integration Course (3 credits) Dissertation Writing Dissertation Writing
Dissertation Proposal Writing Thursday Professionalization Workshop OR Friday Research Seminar Annual Training Program Symposium
Thursday Professionalization Workshop (1 credit) Research Practicum (10 hours/week) Research Practicum (10 hours/week)
Research Practicum (10 hours/week)
Dissertation Proposal Defended

Year 3

Dissertation Writing Dissertation Writing Dissertation Completion
Thursday Professionalization Workshop or Friday Seminars Thursday Professionalization Workshop OR Friday Research Seminar Annual Training Program Symposium
Research Practicum (10 hours/week) Research Practicum (10 hours/week) Publications
Grant writing

Research Practicum

Pre-doctoral trainees gain experience conducting interdisciplinary research through hands-on experience.

Thursday Interdisciplinary Professionalization Workshop

This one-credit hour course provides trainees with a context and forum to advance their understanding of the scientific challenges, ethical issues, and professional activities associated with conducting interdisciplinary biosocial research. Biosocial trainees must enroll and receive credit for the workshop at least twice during their first two years in the training program. Trainees may enroll once each academic year OR twice in one academic year. If you are enrolled in the Thursday Workshop, you must attend each week (attendance will be recorded). You are not required to attend the Friday Seminar that week, but are strongly encouraged to. The course meets once per week for one hour.

CPC Interdisciplinary Friday Research Seminars

The CPC Interdisciplinary Research Seminar highlights speakers who are conducting cutting-edge research, some of whom are leading biosocial researchers. Biosocial trainees are strongly encouraged to attend the CPC Interdisciplinary Research Seminar on a regular basis. Trainees must attend Friday seminars, if they do not attend Thursday workshops each week.

Annual Symposium on Biosocial Approaches to Population Health Across the Life Course Health

All predoctoral trainees are required to submit an abstract and present their work at the annual UNC Symposium on Biosocial Approaches to Population Health Across the Life Course. This symposium includes oral and poster presentations, and a lunch presentation by a leading junior researcher.

IAPHS Attendance

All predoctoral trainees are required to submit abstracts to interdisciplinary and gap discipline national conferences or to present interdisciplinary research within their home discipline conferences. As part of this requirement, Biosocial predoctoral trainees must attend the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Sciences (IAPHS), a annual meeting for researchers using integrative approaches in population health.

Responsible Conduct in Research Training

As part of the training required for all UNC faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in the planning, conduct, or analysis of research involving human subjects, trainees must also obtain certification through the Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI).

In addition to the CITI certification and one-on-one individual ethics mentoring, our trainees are also required to attend a minimum of four different approved sessions on research ethics each appointment year. Following the guiding principles established by NIH, these RCR opportunities must focus on the topics of conflict of interest; policies regarding human subjects; the mentor/mentee relationship; collaborative research; peer review; data acquisition and security; data sharing; research misconduct; authorship; conflicts of interest; and other contemporary challenges in social and biomedical research.


Predoctoral trainees must be current UNC graduate students nearing completion of coursework in their home discipline and be ready to significantly enhance their training with interdisciplinary coursework, seminars, and a research apprenticeship. Students from any academic program are eligible to apply.

Stipend and Benefits

Trainees will be supported by funds from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) T32 grant. Traineeship awards are made on a 12-month basis. Trainees also receive:

  • a monthly stipend
  • in-state tuition,
  • mandatory fees and mandatory UNC major medical insurance premiums,
  • a maximum of $500 to support travel to the annual meeting of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Sciences (IAPHS), and
  • office space, equipment use, and support services from the Center.

Supplemental Compensation Policy

Trainees funded by the NICHD Biosocial Training Grant are expected to have a full-time commitment to their research and training program.  Extramural activities resulting in supplemental compensation are allowed only when the activities result in a career building benefit, or in the case of a departmental requirement.  Income producing activities, with income enhancement as the primary motivation, are not allowed.

All requests to engage in work resulting in financial compensation are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be made in writing and approved by the Program Directors prior to beginning any work. All requests must be approved and endorsed by your faculty preceptors. Please contact Training Manager Abigail Haydon ( for information regarding the guidelines that must be followed for consideration of such requests.

How to Apply

We welcome applications from UNC-Chapel Hill PhD students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

The Biosocial Training Program Committee evaluates new and returning trainees each February.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. Applications are due January 15, 2021. To request an application, please contact Abigail Haydon (


New Applicants

A completed application includes information about previous education, research interests, previous biosocial-relevant activities, the planned program of research for the next year, plans for thesis/dissertation research, and career plans following training.

For new applicants, the following items are required:

  • An online application
  • Curriculum vitae/resume
  • UNC-CH graduate transcripts (including courses in-progress)
  • Letters of recommendation (2) – from faculty members with direct knowledge of your research background or with whom you have completed a course

The initial term of appointment is for one year, beginning in April or May of each year, with the potential for reappointment pending a review of the trainee’s annual progress.

Returning Applicants

Current trainees must reapply to the Biosocial Training Program each year.  A completed application will include a description of their current research practicum, progress to-date (including results, accomplishments, and collaborations over the past year), coursework, conference attendance, professional development activities, and their planned research activities for the upcoming year.

The Training Program will also request evaluations of the trainee’s progress over the past year from their preceptor(s).

Admitted Trainees

New students will be informed about the outcome of their application as soon as possible after the Training Committee meeting in February of each year.  For those applicants that are new to UNC, decisions will be made by mid-March. Reapplicants and will be informed by the end of March.

Applicants who are admitted into the program will receive more detailed information about working at CPC during their orientation.

If you have any questions, send an email to


Robert Hummer

Robert Hummer

Allison Aiello

Allison Aiello