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2016 Annual Meeting - Sunday Sessions
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Sunday, March 6

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Please note the following intended audience abbreviations: IP - individual postdoctoral scholar; PDA - postdoctoral association; PDO - postdoctoral office; ASSOC – association & societies; ALL - for everyone.

Communicating Science to Nonscientists (IIA)

Sponsored by The Mitchell Organization

Intended Audience: ALL

PRESENTERS: Tullia C. Bruno, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh; Danny R. Welch, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cancer Biology, University of Kansas Cancer Center


Developing effective communication skills is essential for effective leadership. Without excellent communication, it is difficult to educate and excite others on the topic you are so passionate about. Thus, it is important to not only be able to convey your research within your field, but also to be able to convey the significance and innovation in your work to a lay audience. The skill of communication is often underdeveloped during graduate training, and thus, this workshop hopes to help with the enhancement of this skill. We will begin the workshop by focusing on examples of excellent written and verbal communication, specifically, a lay abstract for a grant proposal, introduction slides for a scientific talk and the infamous elevator pitch. From there, we will break into three rotating groups to work on these three areas of scientific communication. Participants are encouraged to bring a lay abstract, scientific presentation, and/or an idea for an elevator pitch with them that they specifically want feedback on. Come and learn how to share your knowledge and ideas in an effective way!


Developing an Effective Advocacy Strategy for the Postdoc Community: Tools for Involvement at the Local and National Level (IIA)

Intended Audience: ALL


PRESENTERS: Tracy Costello, Ph.D., Program Manager, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Development, MD Anderson Cancer Center; Kearney Gunsalus, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar, Tufts University; Thomas McHugh, M.S., Program Administrator, University of Maryland; Yvette R. Seger, Ph.D., Director of Science Policy, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB); Jennifer Zeitzer, B.A., Deputy Director, Office of Public Affairs/Director of Legislative Relations, FASEB


During this interactive workshop, participants will learn how to develop a strategy to address a “hot topic” in postdoc advocacy and become effective advocates for the postdoc community at both the institutional and national level. New data from an informal pre-meeting survey will be presented to identify the top policy issues for postdocs in the current environment. Participants will also learn how tools, such as the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart, can be used to develop a strategic advocacy plan to effect change in their own community. Key concepts that will be discussed include determining short and long term goals for an issue campaign; recognizing organizational and resource considerations; identifying constituents, allies and opponents; establishing targets; and discussing tactics that will lead to success. Session attendees will engage in an interactive exercise to demonstrate their understanding of the Midwest Academy Strategy Chart by working in small groups to develop an advocacy campaign related to the policy issues identified in the survey data. Prior to the NPA Annual Meeting, the workshop organizers will distribute a short survey to collect the perspectives of NPA members regarding current “hot” issues affecting postdoctoral scholars at both the institutional and national level. Proposed survey questions include: (1) What do you view as the top challenges or issues for postdoctoral scholars at your institution? (2) What do you view as the top challenges or issues for postdoctoral scholars nationally? (3) In light of these challenges, what are your top three priorities at your institution? (4) If you have recently advocated for change at your institution, what was the general issue/topic? (5) If you currently have an advocacy strategy, please describe it briefly (who are you talking to? what are you asking for? etc.) (6) What is your role at your institution? (administrator, faculty, postdoc, other)


Innovation and Discovery in Professional Development: Helping Postdocs Develop their Stories Despite Limited Resources (IIA)

Intended Audience: ALL


PRESENTERS: Stephanie Eberle, M.Ed., Director, School of Medicine Career Center, Stanford Medicine; Latishya Steele, Ph.D., Associate Director, Biosciences Programs, Stanford Medicine


Recent fluctuations and expectations in the job market necessitate innovative professional development offerings for postdocs. However, in a world where many feel limited by resources, and/or funding, it is easy to focus on the roadblocks within our own institutions and see these as preventative to change. The NPA Annual Meeting provides a necessary, dedicated opportunity for us to build connections, challenge our assumptions, communicate about potential stakeholders and solutions, identify and articulate shared goals, and discover new ways to advocate for our postdocs. While developing our own integrated academic and professional development model, we discovered these themes to be the key to navigating roadblocks. Through this session, we are excited to engage participants in a conversation about these important topics. Using a story practice model, we draw upon multiple perspectives from our experiences across several institutes, community service organizations, and academic medical centers. Our stories and the associated prompts will (1) actively engage participants in understanding how these themes play out within their home institutions or organizations, (2) encourage participants to optimize professional development opportunities for postdocs despite perceived complications, and (3) help participants develop a plan that they can put into practice.


Managing Up: A Practical Approach to Managing Conflict and Preparing for Difficult Conversations in the Work Place

Intended Audience: ALL


PRESENTERS: Lori Conlan, Ph.D., Director, Office of Postdoc Services, OITE, National Institutes of Health; Garth Fowler, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director, Education Directorate Director, Office of Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training, American Psychological Association


The work environment is filled with conflict, often as a result of differences in work styles, passive-aggressive communication techniques, and differences in cultural expectations and behaviors. Many postdocs report trepidation over approaching their advisor regarding roles and expectations, research progress, or career development and planning, for fear that the conversation might be unpleasant, unaware of how to initiate the conversation, or that the outcome is predetermined. In fact, many of us may have the same challenges with our own supervisors. Minimizing or resolving conflict often requires engaging in difficult conversations, which is challenging and requires both practice and competency. This workshop will help participants manage conflicts and engage in difficult conversations by teaching an understanding of personal work styles, conflict management using the Thomas-Kilman model of conflict, cultural insights from the Hofstede dimensions of culture, and assertiveness techniques. Participants will learn how to employ their new knowledge to more effectively manage work relationships, and when necessary, engage in difficult conversations that ultimately reduce conflict and work-place stress. The information and resources shared can also be used to develop professional competencies within our postdoc populations by providing an understanding of the theory and research behind conflict management, and preparing them for roles as personnel managers and leaders.


Successful Interview Prep Strategies: A Practical Approach for Postdoc Offices

Intended Audience: PDO


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


Almost all postdoctoral fellows could benefit from interview prep as they move forward in their job search. However, many postdocs do not have access to institutional career resources and 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 help in interview preparation while providing tools and strategies to successfully develop, improve upon, or modify existing preparatory approaches. The workshop begins with our career strategist demonstrating tools and strategies for providing comprehensive coaching for virtual, phone, panel, and one-on-one interviews as well as techniques for behavioral and informational interviews. Next, our PDO director will share the successful adaptation and implementation of interview-related programming and coaching. In small groups, participants will practice the interview prep techniques and engage in discussion of best practices, common concerns and unique challenges. This forum provides a unique guided opportunity for participants to develop a scalable toolkit for providing relevant interview coaching for postdocs.


Supporting International Postdocs Linguistically and Culturally 

Intended Audience: ALL


PRESENTER: Mallory Fix Lopez, M.S.Ed., TESOL, Applied Linguist, language connectED and University of Pennsylvania


Effective communication in the workplace is crucial for not only professional advancement, yet it is also a key component of workplace productivity, collaboration, and innovation, all of which have major impacts on the work of a postdoc. The ability to communicate effectively does not come naturally for most; it is a learned skill. While many postdocs receive significant feedback on the content of their work, rarely do they get the opportunity to focus intensively on the delivery and communication of their work. Also, as the postdoc community becomes increasingly more international, it’s particularly important that international postdocs receive the necessary support of English language development, especially with pragmatics. Additionally, skills necessary for effective communication vary depending on the communication platform, making it even more important to provide the intensive training necessary to learn these skills. For example, as technology continues to advance, it’s a professional expectation that postdocs be able to use and feel comfortable using technology to communicate, such as email, video and teleconferencing. The reality is, however, that most international postdocs have little experience with or lack confidence when communicating virtually, especially during video and conference calls, which could be detrimental to their professional advancement and representation of their respective institution. During this workshop, participants will learn how to develop a program focused on effective communication for international nonnative English speaking postdocs. The main focus of this workshop will center on the importance of communication skills through email, video and teleconferencing for professional correspondence. This workshop will encourage participants to reflect on and analyze skills necessary for effective communication in the virtual world as related to the work of a postdoc. This will include (1) defining the communication needs and challenges of nonnative English speaking international postdocs as related to email, video and teleconferencing, (2) outlining and drafting manageable curriculum/programming to meet these needs, and (3) reviewing logistics on how to implement this type of professional development opportunity to international postdocs and gain institutional support. 

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