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2015 Annual Meeting - Saturday Workshops
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Saturday, March 14

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60-minute workshops

Human Resources for Postdoctoral Scholars: How to Turn Challenges into Success

Postdoctoral offices (PDOs)

UNC Chapel Hill has been identified as one of the top 20 best places to serve as a postdoc in the United States. Over the past three years, UNC’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has made a number of improvements to its postdoctoral policies in human resources that have enhanced human resources service delivery to the postdoc population at the university. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has hired a Human Resources Consultant who works part-time in the office to provide training, oversight, and consultation to postdoctoral scholars, faculty mentors, and departmental human resource liaisons on issues surrounding postdocs. In addition, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has worked with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office and university counsel to develop and implement a new set of policies to help frame the postdoctoral experience at the university. Many of these policies are related to human resources in an effort to provide more consistency across various units/schools/divisions on campus and to enhance the overall postdoc experience at UNC and beyond. Given the importance of looking ahead and planning for the future of research, UNC recognized that the postdoc population is a critical one to engage, recruit, and retain as they are our next generation of faculty and researchers. Spending time training those who work with postdocs, including faculty mentors, administrators, and human resources staff, will only add to the long-term success of the institutions.

This workshop will cover a number of issues related to crafting a sound human resource management plan for a unique and sometimes forgotten employee classification to make them feel included, and also to recognize that they are the next generation of researchers and faculty at our institutions. This program will cover:

  • Characteristics of the postdoctoral population at UNC;
  • The benefit for PDOs of cultivating relationships and partnerships with people in a human resources role across campus;
  • Historical HR challenges for the postdoctoral scholar population;
  • Solutions implemented by the UNC Postdoc Office to mitigate these challenges (with information on which solutions worked and which did not);
  • Information on the policies and programs put in place to better the experience for UNC postdocs from recruitment, onboarding, benefits, career development planning, employee relations, and off-boarding; and
  • Time for discussion and Q&A to share concerns, challenges, and successes at other institutions.

Presenters: Taylor Libby, M.P.A., P.H.R., Human Resources Consultant, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Identifying Career Pathways for Postdocs: Mining Existing Data and Collecting New Data

Sponsored by The Mitchell Organization

All Audiences

Where do postdocs go after they complete their training? The answer is… we don’t really know. Very little data about postdoc career outcomes has been published and what little exists is mostly anecdotal and speculative. To address this dearth of data, we will explore two approaches: we will first describe career pathways of former postdocs found by mining data required to renew federal grants; next, we will share career outcomes for doctoral recipients and postdocs that were collected through a new survey instrument.

The data mining project was undertaken by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Postdoc Office to inform faculty and postdocs about actual career outcomes, and to shape relevant career development programming for current postdocs. The data were derived from UCSF National Institutes of Health (NIH) T32 training grant competitive renewals, which require reporting career outcomes for a 10-year period of all trainees in the labs of all faculty who participate in the training programs. The survey project was designed under the guidance of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, and the data collected will be used to construct a visual map of careers for science doctoral recipients. Results from both analyses and accompanying methodologies will be reported.

Presenters: Christine D. Des Jarlais, Ed.D., Assistant Dean for Postdocs and Career Development, University of California, San Francisco; Melanie V. Sinche, M.A., M.Ed., N.C.C., Senior Research Associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

Researcher Connections: A Research Staff Mentoring Scheme at the University of Oxford

All Audiences

Two of the main challenges facing postdocs at the University of Oxford - as in many other institutions - are isolation from other researchers, and ensuring that adequate time is given to career conversations and space to reflect on professional development needs. As part of a range of initiatives to address these challenges, Oxford is piloting a mentoring scheme for researchers in the medical sciences comprising mentoring circles: one senior mentor to three or four mentees, all from different departments. The mentoring circles thus continue the traditional role of the mentor providing experience and guidance, but add an element of peer mentoring as well as networking across departments, allowing researchers to meet others in similar fields. The mentoring scheme is complemented by bespoke training and guidance based on the needs of participants identified throughout the mentoring relationship. This workshop will begin with an overview of the challenges and successes of the mentoring scheme so far, drawing on the experience of setting up the scheme as well as results from the evaluation of the pilot, to share lessons learned, to learn from the ideas and experience of participants in this area, and to pose questions to those considering setting up mentoring schemes of their own. Discussion will also consider the issues that the mentoring scheme was set up to address and will include the drawing out of comparisons between the U.K. and U.S. contexts with a view to sharing practice.

Presenters: Laura Hodsdon, Ph.D., Researcher Development Officer, University of Oxford

Schmooze or Lose: Business/Social Events are Not About the Food and Booze

All Audiences

Social settings often intimidate otherwise accomplished professionals. This interactive program will address introductions, elevator speeches, handshakes, small talk, gender differences, and a host of miserable moments - forgetting names, breaking into and away from groups, alcohol protocol, and a host of others. Participants will be given an opportunity to practice this skills, and will learn tips for following up with new contacts.

Presenters: Mary Mitchell, President, The Mitchell Organization

Scientists Are Leaders: The Value of the Scientific Method in Preparing Scientists for Professional Careers

Sponsored by Cell Symposia

All Audiences

The changing landscape with respect to career opportunities for doctorate level scientists has significantly changed over the past 15 years, yet despite this, many graduate and post-graduate training programs have not adjusted to the reality that only 7 - 15 percent of doctoral degree recipients obtain tenure-track positions. Careers outside academia require competencies beyond the scientific/technical, to include both business and social skills that are rarely emphasized in many programs, which results in a competitive disadvantage for doctoral degree recipients seeking careers outside the university system. The common refrain is that academic doctoral degree recipients are “overqualified and under-experienced” which presents them with the Catch 22 of “how do I gain the industry experience if industry is unwilling to hire me?”

The reality is that there are very close parallels between the business process and the scientific method, and scientists actually are deeply immersed in learning, or at least experiencing these competencies, if only they are aware of their importance, and seek opportunities to develop them.

This workshop will look at the relationship between the scientific method and the leadership, communications, project management, and team skills that industry requires, and provide insight into how to leverage the science experience in graduate and post-graduate education in order to develop the business and social identities of scientists that, combined with their scientific/technical skills comprises their “brand.”

This workshop is based on the very successful SciPhD Business of Science programs that have been offered at over 40 institutions nationally and internationally, and that are an integral part of multiple NIH BEST award programs.

Presenters: Larry Petcovic, Sr., M.S., VP Communications, SciPhD; Randall K. Ribaudo, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, SciPhD

Ensuring Future Success: Addressing Challenges Facing Women Postdocs

Funded by the Elsevier Foundation under the New Scholars grant.

Individual postdoctoral scholars (IP)

Since 2009, the NPA has been working with institutions to foster the advancement of postdoc women in academic careers through the NPA ADVANCE project, originally funded by the National Science Foundation with subsequent funding provided by the Elsevier Foundation. Through the Elsevier Advancing Postdoctoral Women program, we focused our work to examine the promising practices, programs and resources found in professional societies and associations that assist postdoc women advancing into academe or other careers. Through focus groups and a survey of 200 professional societies and associations, we learned that some of the key issues facing women postdocs are 1) career-life satisfaction, 2) mentoring and support, 3) childcare resources and family obligations, and 4) career development and professional development. In this hands-on workshop, participants will discuss these key issues, and generate ideas for what they need for career transition and advancement to ensure success in the future. The NPA will also share programs and resources that professional societies and associations offer that will enhance women postdocs’ advancement into diverse career tracks.

Presenters: Belinda Lee Huang, Ph.D., Executive Director, NPA; Cynthia Simpson, M.Ed, C.A.E, Chief Business Officer, Association of Women in Science


90-minute workshops

Yes, All Meetings: How to End Harassment in Professional Settings

All Audiences

Attending and presenting at meetings, conventions, and conferences (“meetings”) is required for success in academic and research careers. Sexual and gender-based harassment at meetings erodes women’s confidence, undermines their professional success, and holds women back in their professions.

These settings are a hybrid of two places where women commonly encounter harassment: in public places and the workplace. Meetings are the site of professional work and work-related activities, and it is reasonable to expect everyone at the meeting – registrants, exhibitors, association staff, contractors, and venue staff – to behave in a respectful, professional, and civil manner. However, meetings also have the feel of a public space. Attendees are in unfamiliar and sometimes crowded surroundings with large numbers of strangers. Despite the presence of name tags and other identifiers, there is a feeling of anonymity, a sense that no matter what you do, you won’t be caught. This session will address the topic from two perspectives: how individuals can respond effectively to being the target of harassment, or to being a bystander or witness of harassment; and how associations and other meeting and conference producers can prevent and address harassment at their events

Material to be covered includes: What constitutes harassment, why men harass women, how street harassment differs from workplace harassment; how to decide when to confront harassers, how to confront and stop harassers effectively without escalating the encounter, how to intervene effectively as a witness or bystander; how societies, associations, and other meeting and conference organizers can address harassment, the components of effective anti-harassment policies, how to work with association staff and governing bodies to encourage adoption and enforcement of anti-harassment policies.

Throughout the workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to practices techniques for confronting harassers, and to talk about their own experiences, those they have witnessed and those they have heard about.

Presenters: Sherry A. Marts, Ph.D., CEO, S*Marts Consulting LLC

How to Avoid Self-Sabotage and Win at Salary Negotiations


Let’s face it, for most of us, the negotiation process is one of the most stressful parts of the job search. Not long after the initial excitement of receiving an offer comes panic, followed by dread.

  • Do I negotiate for more money and risk seeming pushy or ungrateful?
  • Will I lose this opportunity if I negotiate for too much?
  • What should I ask for?

If one or more of these thoughts swirl through your head when you think about salary negotiations, you are not alone! This workshop is a step-by-step guide to navigating the negotiation process, especially when it comes to managing your emotions.

Presenters: Dara Wilson-Grant, M.S.Ed., L.P.C., Associate Director, Postdoctoral Affairs, UNC Chapel Hill

International Postdoc and Graduate Student Spouse and Partner Programming at UC Berkeley


Do your postdocs and their spouses/partners relocate from other countries or regions of the United States? Join us for an interactive presentation to learn what does and doesn't work with a spouse/partner program and hear how UC Berkeley helps the spouses/partners find employment or alternative activities, which reduces the postdocs' transition stress so they can settle-in quickly to focus on their research. You'll learn how to support their life transitions to a new location, including how to quickly learn the "ins and outs" of American and institutional culture. You'll also see a live demo of the low-cost, high-impact career system employed to help spouses/partners find employment or alternative opportunities. The career system also supports postdocs who, given their short tenure as a postdoc, are often concerned with their inevitable career transition.

Presenters: Sam Castañeda, B.A., Director, Visiting Scholar & Postdoc Affairs, University of California (UC), Berkeley; Susan Musich, M.Ed., President, Passport Career, Passport Career

Permanent Resident Options and Strategies for Postdoctoral Fellows

This workshop will concern the options open to foreign national postdocs desiring to attain permanent residence, largely through self-petitioning for permanent residence based on the research work they are performing. Many postdocs have demonstrated outstanding professional capabilities, but their employing institutions are essentially prohibited from sponsoring them for permanent residence owing to the basic reality that they hold temporary rather than permanent positions. Yet, permanent resident status is a key element to providing postdocs with a stable immigration status to pursue long-term academic or other professional opportunities in the United States. The purpose of this workshop will be to review the immigration requirements to gain permanent residence through self-sponsorship - that is, how can a postdoc essentially sponsor himself/herself for permanent residence. The presenter will be providing an overall summary of the legal provisions pertaining to self-sponsored cases for permanent residence and, perhaps more importantly, will provide tips and insights into developing effective submissions leading to permanent residence. This session will develop in a highly interactive manner that will be delivered in an engaging and, at times, humorous manner. The subject of this workshop provides a basic building block for foreign national postdocs who desire to develop their professional careers in the United States.


Presenters: Robert D. Aronson, J.D., Managing Attorney, Aronson & Associates, P.A.

Successful Career Coaching Strategies: A Practical Approach for Postdoc Offices

Almost all postdoctoral fellows need some level of career coaching before they move onto their next position. However, many postdoc offices do not have the expertise or training to provide this critical service. This workshop will address common issues and challenges associated with the growing need for postdoc offices to offer career coaching either formally or informally while providing tools and solutions to successfully develop, improve upon, or modify existing career coaching approaches. The workshop begins with our career strategist demonstrating tools and strategies for providing comprehensive career coaching followed by our postdoc office director sharing the successful adaptation and implementation of career coaching programs. Participants will then break into small groups to practice the career coaching tools and engage in discussion of current practices, common concerns and unique challenges. This forum provides a unique guided opportunity for participants to develop a scalable toolkit for providing relevant career coaching.


Presenters: Sarah Cardozo-Duncan, Founder & Owner, Career Strategist; James Gould, Ph.D., Director, Office for Postdoctoral Fellows, Harvard Medical School

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