The ADVANCE Florida Network (AFN) provides mentoring, networking, collaboration, and professional opportunities to STEM female faculty among the three urban public research universities that comprise the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities: Florida International University (FIU), University of Central Florida (UCF), and University of South Florida (USF).

Under the AFN program, women tenure-line STEM faculty and women Postdoctoral Associates can receive funding to offer research seminars at departments from any of the metropolitan universities other than their home institution, which is exactly what Pamela Wisniewski did. An assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UCF, she was part of the inaugural class of awardees, and traveled to USF in March 2017. Much of her research was in human-computer interactions and specifically, adolescent online safety, and she was interested in “moving toward designing intervention based solutions to detect risk behaviors and mitigate them.”

While at USF, she heard about the McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship, a program she had never heard of before, from a USF faculty member. The Fellowship is designed to “promote excellence in teaching and research by underrepresented minorities and women, and to improve their chances of earning tenure and promotion, Fellows receive a one-year sabbatical with full salary and benefits.” Wisniewski applied and was one of last year’s awardees.

She made another important connection as well. USF professor Dr. Sriram Chellappan agreed to be her mentor for the William T. Grant Scholars Program, which supports the professional development of promising early-career researchers. Scholars receive $350,000 over five years to conduct research that “stretches their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.” Six scholars were chosen for the 2018 program, Wisniewski among them. Her research will focus on ways to prevent the online sexual predation of low-income young women of color.