National Postdoctoral Association

Providing a national voice and seeking positive change for postdoctoral scholars

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Highlights of the NPA's Accomplishments and Activities Print Email

This listing represents only a small portion of the work done by the NPA Board of Directors, the Committees of the Membership, Staff and many other NPA Supporters and Friends on behalf of the postdoctoral community since the organization's founding in 2003. Please contact us for more information or to get involved.

The NPA has developed and collected such resources as:

Recent accomplishments/activities by the NPA or in which the NPA has played a significant role are:

  • Four consecutive years of increases in the entry stipend for the NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) trainees (1% in 2009, 1% in 2010, and 2% in 2011 and 2012) after several years of no increases. Most recently, the President's 2014 budget includes raising the entry-level stipends by 7% in 2014, to $42,000.  The NPA applauds the NIH for these increases.
  • Providing information on the alignment of advanced training and career options to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Graduate Education Modernization Taskforce (2012).
  • The positive recommendations made by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/index.php/news-241/news-archive/27-news-items/front-page-news/669-2012-nih-biomedical-workforce-report). The NPA provided data and presented to the working group and was recognized in the group's report for its contributions.
  • The decision by the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) to conduct a follow-up study to its 2000 report, Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers.
    • The NPA approached the director of the committee in the spring of 2010 with this proposal, suggested by NPA founder Raymond Clark, Ph.D.
    • The committee is currently writing its report.
  • The establishment of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, celebrated during the week beginning with the third Monday of September.
    • The 2014 week of celebration will take place Sept. 15-19.
    • In 2013, there were 264 events at 108 institutions in 36 states, Washington, DC, and Canada.
    • The U.S. House of Representatives officially recognized National Postdoc Appreciation Week on Sept. 23, 2010.
  • Efforts by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish and conduct a national, regular survey of postdocs.
    • The NPA facilitated a day-long meeting where a Human Resources Expert Panel evaluated the NSF Early Career Doctorates’ survey instrument and regularly attends meetings regarding the progress of this effort.
  • The development of the NPA Core Competencies, which provide guidelines for postdocs and institutions in regard to professional development.
  • The National Summit on Gender and the Postdoctorate, held in March 2010.
    • The summit was the first-ever national venue dedicated to discussing the advancement of postdoc women to the professoriate.
    • This summit was organized as part of NPA ADVANCE: From Postdoc to Faculty: Transition Issues for Women Scientists, a project to foster the transition of women postdocs into the professoriate. Supported by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program, the project adapts and disseminates promising institutional practices for assisting women scientists and engineers in making this transition.

The NPA has also played a significant role in:

  • The adoption of the definition of “postdoctoral scholars” by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • The establishment of the NIH Pathways to Independence award to help postdocs successfully transition to tenure-track faculty positions.
  • The Congressional requirement (America COMPETES Act) that the NIH expand data collection efforts regarding postdocs supported on research grants.
  • The Congressional requirement (America COMPETES Act) that NSF require mentoring plans in all research grant applications that seek funding for a postdoctoral scholar position.
  • The recommendations impacting postdocs in the June 2012 NIH Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group report.
  • The establishment of several postdoctoral offices (PDOs) and associations (PDAs) at institutions across the country.
    • According to the best available data, the number of postdoc offices at U.S. research institutions has more than doubled since 2003, from approximately 60 to 135.

The NPA continues to:

  • Work to establish PDOs and PDAs.
  • Update and develop resources.
  • Advocate on the institutional, regional, and national levels to enhance the postdoctoral experience to achieve the following strategic priorities:
    • Increase compensation to fair levels for both “domestic” and ‘international” postdocs;
    • Improve benefits for all postdocs;
    • Increase support of quality mentoring for postdocs;
    • Provide/facilitate professional and career development opportunities for postdocs;
    • Support increased and improved data collection; and
    • Encourage and facilitate diversity within the postdoctoral community.

As part of our ongoing work, representatives from the NPA regularly present about the challenges and issues faced by the postdoctoral community, including to such groups as:

  • The National Academies committee that conducted the Study on Research Universities (November 2010);
  • The Graduate Career Consortium held at Stanford University (June 2011);
  • The NIH Biomedical Workforce Working Group (June 2011); and
  • The National Academies committee on responsible science (August 2012).

A big thank you to all NPA volunteers and supporters for the role
that they have played in the NPA's growth and success!

 

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