Choi, Zito among Rice Engineering's 2023-24 Future Faculty Fellows

School of Engineering program prepares PhD students, postdocs to stand out in academic job market.

Headshots of Jaihee Choi and John Zito

Rice Engineering’s Future Faculty Fellows program supports Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates as they explore the tenure track academic career path, compete successfully for tenure track faculty positions, and launch their careers. All Rice Engineering Ph.D. students and postdoctoral associates may participate in valuable networking events, workshops and panels — but for those who are ready to dive into the academic career journey, the program offers a Level 3 Future Faculty Fellowship. 

Among the 2023-24 Future Faculty Fellows are Jaihee Choi and John Zito, both Ph.D. students in statistics at Rice.

Choi is a fifth-year Ph.D. student working in the lab of Ryan Sun. Her research interest involves developing statistical methodologies to extract valuable insights from different complex biological data. Currently, her focus is the development of novel rare-variant association testing methods tailored for interval-censored time-to-event outcomes. Choi came to Rice with a dual degree in applied and computational math / statistics and economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Zito is a Ph.D. student working in the lab of Daniel Kowal. His primary research areas include Bayesian statistics and time series analysis. Zito comes to Rice University from Kenyon College, where he received his B.A. in mathematics. He is a recipient of the NSF-GRFP Fellowship, which supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers.

Level 3 Future Faculty Fellows prepare to compete successfully for tenure track engineering faculty positions through one-on-one consultation, tailored workshops, and mock interviews. “The Future Faculty Fellows program focuses on preparing and supporting the fellows as they navigate a complex job market,” said Renata Ramos, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. “Our program selects top doctoral students and postdocs at Rice Engineering and helps them stand out throughout the application and interview process.”

Fellows also receive a travel stipend and build valuable connections with both faculty and other fellows. “This is a great opportunity to learn and grow while getting mentored by future peers, and I am looking forward to fostering new connections and strengthening my academic profile,” said Paola Cascante-Bonilla, a 2023-24 Future Faculty Fellow.

The 2023-24 Future Faculty Fellows cohort is a diverse group of students committed to research, academic excellence, and inspiring future generations of engineers. Hailing from five countries and representing eight of Rice University’s engineering departments, the fellows are already making unique contributions to academia.