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The POSTDOCket is the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) newsletter covering news items and features of interest to the postdoctoral community.


The NPA welcomes member submissions for inclusion in The POSTDOCket. Please contact the POSTDOCket editor in chief, to share your story ideas. Interested in advertising with the NPA?


In This Issue


Volume 15, Issue 12 (December 2017)

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Update from the Chair: Reflecting on Responsibilities and Opportunities

Kate Sleeth


As chair of the Board of Directors, Kate Sleeth has realized personal and professional growth with the NPA team. 

Meet the New and Returning Members of the NPA Board of Directors

Aarushi Sharma, Irina Tiper, and Elaine Wells-Gray


The NPA Board of Directors welcomes a talented group of new and returning members. Learn more about their experience and what they hope to achieve with the NPA.

Scientific Wonders in Five Minutes

Lining Zhu


Learning to tell concise and compelling stories is a valuable, career enhancing, skill.

Vanderbilt Postdoc Association and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs Broaden Reach with Organizational Transition

Christopher Smith


Traditionally serving biomedical postdocs, the Vanderbilt Postdoc Association, with the new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, is working to engage with university postdocs across all disciplines.

NPA News and Committee Updates


Catch up on recent announcements and happenings of NPA Committees and learn some ways that you can get involved.

Effecting Change as a Leader in the NPA: Q&A with Kate Sleeth


During Kate Sleeth’s tenure on the Board of Directors, the NPA has made progress toward improving the postdoctoral scholar experience, as well as the operations and activities of the NPA.

Thank you to renewing Sustaining Members of the NPA!


Sustaining Members are a vital part of the NPA. Sustaining Members represent a range of professional societies, postdoc associations, postdoc offices, and other organizations that serve the postdoctoral community. Students, postdocs, faculty, and staff at NPA Sustaining Member institutions are eligible to join the NPA, at no cost, as Affiliate Members. Check to see if your institution is an NPA Sustaining Member.


Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

University of Kansas Medical Center

City of Hope Beckman Research Institute

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Colorado State University

University of Vermont

Dartmouth College

Van Andel Research Institute

Sandia National Laboratories Postdoctoral Association



Past issues (2017- )

Access The POSTDOCket archive (Restricted to members)

Melissa Vaught, Ph.D.

Editor in Chief

Melissa Vaught, Ph.D., received her doctoral degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2008. She continued biochemistry and cell biology research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Immune Disease Institute/Harvard Medical School (2009-2010), and Massachusetts General Hospital (2010-2014). Vaught is a scientific editor at PubMed Commons, contracted to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) by Medical Science & Computing LLC. In her personal time, she blogs and tweets about the culture of science and her experiences in academia and beyond.

Vaught's involvement with The POSTDOCket and the NPA are personal, and do not represent any endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or National Institutes of Health.

Simone Otto, Ph.D.

Editor in Chief

Simone Otto, Ph.D., received her doctoral degree in neuroscience from the University of Vermont in 2013. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Ion Channel Physiology Group, part of the Neurobiology Laboratory at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), she has been researching adult neurogenesis. Otto is an ongoing contributor to the Environmental Factor(E-Factor), an online news publication, and has served as a representative of the E-Factor on the NIEHS Trainees Assembly for several years. Her commitment to a career in science communication led her to serve on the NIEHS Annual Career Symposium (2014-2017), including organizing panel discussions, updating a website and producing a publication for the Symposium. In addition, Otto has frequently sought out opportunities to mentor non-traditional students. In her free time, Otto spends time with her three sons, one of whom is currently in medical school, teaching her cairn terrier to do tricks, or working on ideas for a future novel.

Otto's involvement with The POSTDOCket and the NPA are personal, and do not represent any endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or National Institutes of Health.

Ian Street, Ph.D.

Deputy Editor

Ian Street, Ph.D., has a doctoral degree in plant biology from Washington University and was a postdoc in the Schaller lab at Dartmouth College. He is currently a virtual lab manager at HappiLabs. He writes and edits at his science blog, The Quiet Branches, as well as Botany One, and The POSTDOCket. He is also a cohost of The Recovering Academic podcast.


Associate editors include: Viviane Callier, Ph.D., Kristy Hentchel, Ph.D., Stephani Page, Ph.D., Andrew Pike, Ph.D., Irina Tiper, Ph.D., and Elaine Wells-Gray, Ph.D.

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