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The POSTDOCket, April 2019
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Institutional Impact on Postdoctoral Research: Training at Janelia

by Erik Lee Snapp

Janelia Logo

When looking for a scientific research postdoctoral fellowship, individuals typically focus on a few key factors: the scientific topic, the track record of the lab, and the location. These factors are important for getting the appropriate training and developing a research program, while living in a place where one’s significant other or family can find employment and a desirable community. Though less obvious, another factor that can tremendously impact the success of a postdoctoral fellowship is the research institution.

Postdoctoral scholars usually work in a single lab mentored by a single advisor, but the research institution can influence the types of experiments that can be performed, as well as training that extends beyond lab skills.

For example, I completed my graduate training at a medical school, my postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was then a professor at a medical school, and am now at the Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

These different types of research institutions factored significantly into my science and the opportunities available to me to pursue it. As a graduate student in a lab funded by NIH grants, I was keenly aware of reagent costs and had limited access to critical equipment. The school had a single, heavily-used, confocal microscope operable only by a trained technician. In contrast, as a postdoc at the NIH, my lab had three confocal microscopes. The available microscope time dramatically enhanced my ability to learn microscopy, collect large data sets involving hundreds of hours of imaging, and develop new methods. The imaging expertise I developed factored significantly in my appeal for academic search committees when I went on the academic job market.

Considerations for Selecting a Research Environment

Evaluating the advantages and challenges of different research environments should factor into deciding where to pursue research training. The ability to do thoughtful, well-designed science is generally independent of an institution's location. However, the ease of doing science is a different matter.

For example:

  • Can a key instrument be realistically accessed or is it controlled by a single lab?
  • Is it constantly in use?
  • Is instrument training provided for new users?

Other considerations include mentor availability and the richness of the scientific environment:

  • Are there opportunities to network and talk with other principal investigators (PIs), either within the department, institute or even outside the institution?
  • Are there conferences where researchers from outside your institution can learn about your science and you can learn about theirs?
  • How does the institution support postdoc development?
  • Do the group leaders actively mentor trainees for success in the competitive job market?

Answering these questions will hopefully lead to a more fulfilling postdoctoral training experience.

Janelia Research Campus

At HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, an independently funded nonprofit research institute, the focus is on enabling scientists to concentrate on scientific problems. Group leaders have no teaching obligations and they don’t write grants. Consequently, researchers can pursue more exploratory research, unconstrained by milestone-driven grants. Researchers are supported with world-class resources, including extensive core facilities, cutting-edge instruments that are not yet commercially available, outstanding collaborators, and exceptional lab coordinators.

Janelia labs are kept intentionally small (two to six members) so that group leaders can continue to work at the bench and interact frequently with trainees. Core facilities and extensive internal collaborations enhance the type, scope, and progress of experiments. Researchers work with core facility staff to create breakthrough research solutions.

The scientific environment extends beyond the lab. Janelia hosts several conferences, workshops, and seminars which support the exchange of new data and provide fertile networking opportunities for group leaders and postdocs alike.

Together, the resources and environment of an independent research institute like Janelia enable postdocs to perform exciting cutting-edge science. However, the advantages of a nonacademic institute create some training challenges for postdocs. For example, the absence of undergraduate students means postdocs have few opportunities to develop a teaching portfolio. At Janelia, this has been addressed in a few ways. First, we teamed up with Barbara Houtz, PhD, who teaches an online course, Scientists Teaching Scientists, which trains course participants how to design lectures and syllabi, about different learning styles in a diverse classroom, and more. Postdocs who complete the course have been invited to develop and teach courses at Janelia, including an introductory neuroscience course. Janelia also provides funding support with teaching fellowships for postdocs who teach offsite (e.g., courses at Marine Biological Laboratories at Woods Hole).

Evaluating the advantages and challenges of different research environments should factor into deciding where to pursue research training.

Postdocs at Janelia are not permitted to apply for federal grants. Yet, they will likely need to fund their future labs with grants from the NIH and National Science Foundation. To help postdocs learn about the grant review process and how to write federal grants, the Office of Science and Training teamed with Sheila Cherry, PhD, to develop an intensive hands-on grants workshop which includes a mock study section. Furthermore, Janelia postdocs are eligible for and have been awarded prestigious fellowships from independent organizations including the Helen Hay Whitney and Damon Runyon foundations.

Another potential issue for postdocs at nonacademic institutions is that their mentors may have little experience serving on academic faculty search committees. Consequently, it is more challenging for a postdoc to get guidance on preparing application materials or a chalk talk. At Janelia, the Office of Science and Training provides intensive programs for practicing job talks and chalk talks. The office also provides detailed debriefing sessions, review of application materials, mentoring groups, and practical guidance on negotiations and evaluating job offers.

Concluding Thoughts

Hopefully, the suggestions in this brief essay will help in the process of selecting where to do one's postdoc. Programs like those we offer at Janelia are often available elsewhere as well, leading to rich training opportunities both inside and outside the lab. As you consider your options, don’t be afraid to ask what’s available.

Erik Lee Snapp, PhD, is the director of student and postdoctoral programs at Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He offers free career resources, including his eBook on How to Apply for Faculty Positions, available here.




The Disobedience of Sexual Harassment: (Wo)Man’s Greatest Virtue?

by Debra DeLoach

#metoo

MeToo: Movement | CLO media

Being a postdoctoral scholar or student in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) comes with numerous challenges. For women, these challenges include circumnavigating a field strife with a boys’ club mentality and unwanted touches. Over half the women in STEM have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted, with women of colour at even greater risk. A majority of these women quietly self-manage the pain, with negative impacts to health, blame, and ostracism occurring when 87–94 percent of sexual harassment goes unreported.

Woman protesting in frustration

Disobedience of Sexual Harassment | Alexandra Taraboletti

Even with the recent hyper-focus of #MeTooSTEM awareness, the true impact of systemic harassment is but a whisper; statistics are unspoken when reporting is punitive. Of the six–thirteen percent that do report, 90 percent of those will face retaliation that can include being the target of mental instability rumours, sabotage including destruction of intellectual property, loss of professional opportunities, and sometimes further harassment, assault, and even rape.

There is also the challenge of uniformity in the handling of reporting. For victims in the United States, Title IX guidance regulations are merely symbolic and rarely enforced when universities judiciously self-govern. Even worse, United Kingdom university systems are savagely unbalanced in their power, with unlawful handling of sexual misconduct investigations that leave women penalised for speaking the truth. For victims that report, the process can be intentionally subversive with truths routinely “gagged” behind six-figure pay-outs. When speaking is punitive yet silence perpetuates misconduct, what hope do women in STEM have? The answer may come from an unexpected hero, a Wildean scientist who refuses to be silenced, and whose voice echoes both sides of the pond offering hope for millions.

Science has no borders; neither should anti-harassment policies.

#MeTooSTEM Grass Movement

Enter BethAnn McLaughlin, PhD, winner of the 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab Disobedience award for her ground-breaking #MeTooSTEM grass movement. Advocating against sexual misconduct, McLaughlin ended over a decade of Rate My Professor misogyny in just 48 hours.

Recently, her outspoken advocacy proved costly following the decision by Vanderbilt University to reverse her tenure despite bringing in over three million dollars in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants since 2004. Her reaction? To speak louder.

In the midst of a multi-country tour delivering talks against sexual misconduct in academia, she also hosts weekly #MTSTalk Zoom video calls through the @MeTooSTEM Twitter account for victim support and resources.

McLaughlin also has been calling for men to step up with #STEMTrollAlert, a Twitter hashtag used by women experiencing trolling and negative comments to signal male allies for help. According to McLaughlin “ally is a verb,” requiring action more than words. Even amidst her flurry of activity and interest on social media, she responds personally to the victims that reach out to her, often within minutes. Given the costs of speaking out, is it all worth it? McLaughlin argues that it is.

All the people who have been broken and find healing by finally seeing there are others using the MeTooSTEM banner makes it worth it. Every victim I've talked to, every woman whose financial, professional and emotional well-being were diminished tells me these horrible stories and I just listen. I just apologize to them. All of them thank me like I'm some sort of hero because I'm the first person in science that believes them. That's worth it all day every day. (McLaughlin)

Unprecedented support underlines the need for immediate change

This year has brought numerous changes for McLaughlin and #MeTooSTEM of unprecedented support: a subreddit space, fervent petitioning for tenure of McLaughlin, a student sit-in at Vanderbilt, and acts of belated justice in the renunciation of tenure/funding for documented “harassholes.” There is tentative celebration at promises of Title IX changes and in the apology from NIH director, Francis Collins for failure to “acknowledge and address the climate and culture that has caused such harm.”

Across the globe, female scientists are watching and waiting, for more than verbiage edits to sexual harassment policies—they need funding agencies to be allies. They’re demanding funding agencies share both the onus and the solution by holding themselves and universities accountable, both action and word. Following Collins’s lead, agencies are urged to release immediate apologies for failing to take action, failing to protect, enabling systemic abuse, and turning a blind eye to reporting subversion.

Currently, harassment, bullying, and maltreatment do not qualify as scientific misconduct, begging the question of the language of policy protection. Further steps to be taken may include barring scientists guilty of misconduct from receiving agency grants, award, travel funding, serving on grant application panels or study sections; stripping funding from universities who fail to report any type of harassment, and enforcing conference bans when research societies knowingly fail to protect vulnerable women.

Science has no borders; neither should anti-harassment policies. Geography may separate us, but women are globally uniting in a shared call to action around the world, and the demanding voice of BethAnn McLaughlin is why. Perhaps we should all take a note of a strong and truthful voice heard by millions and be inspired to muster up a little of our own disobedience.

Debra DeLoach, MSc, is an adjunct instructor in the Bioclinical Sciences department at Ozarks Technical Community College, and final year doctoral candidate in molecular mycology at the University of Bath.




Brief Conversations with Outstanding Volunteers of the NPA

By Avanti Dey

Catherine Zander, PhD, and Natalia Martin, PhD

The NPA is comprised of hundreds of volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the organization. From the Board of Directors to the Outreach Committee, NPA volunteers are making their mark on the organization to ensure the success of the organization. This month, we celebrate two individuals, one of whom is a recent addition, while the other has been with the organization for a while. Catherine Brooks Zander, PhD, and Natalia Martin, PhD, have equally demonstrated their remarkable commitment to the future of the NPA.

Catherine Zander, PhD

Catherine Zander, PhD

Catherine B. Zander

Zander is an American Society of Hematology/American Association for the Advancement of Science Science and Technology Congressional Fellow. Zander has a doctorate from The State University of New York at Binghamton in chemistry and completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She has been a part of the NPA since 2015 and is currently the vice chair of the Outreach Committee and the co-chair of the Advocacy Committee for the NPA.

The NPA leadership is a group of extremely committed individuals who are fervent advocates for the postdoctoral community.

What is it about the NPA’s mission that made you want to be a part of it?

I’ve always wanted to be a part of things that I’m doing. Even in college, I was involved in the building’s legislature. When I got to UAB, I joined the postdoctoral association to get a sense of what was going on and what resources were available to me. Because of my involvement in the PDA, I attended the annual NPA conference and it turned out to be just what I was looking for. At that point, I was thinking about how to get more involved in planning and policy, and I had no idea where to begin; working with the NPA seemed to be the perfect way to start effecting change at a substantial level.

How has the Outreach Committee changed since you’ve been a part of it?

I’ve been seeing that a lot more individual voices are coming through and being heard, which has been largely driven by social media. Social media has had a huge impact in how we are able to get postdocs’ voices and views directly incorporated into NPA policies. By allowing people to communicate and connect directly with us, we get a better idea of what less vocal or organized portions of the community are experiencing. Social media is also wonderful in getting information out to the postdoc community. I’ve been specifically focused on issues like sexual harassment, gender disparity, and cross-cultural and international issues.

Any final thoughts or advice to postdocs?

Become a part of the NPA, if your institution/university doesn’t already have a postdoc association! The NPA advocates on behalf of postdocs for services that universities don’t necessarily offer, such as professional development, networking, and meeting new people outside of an academic setting. NPA’s network and support is really unparalleled, and the strongest advantage it has is that it is entirely beholden to the interests of postdocs.

Natalia Martin, PhD

Natalia Martin, PhD

Natalia Martin, PhD

Previously senior research associate in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at Michigan State University (MSU), Martin is now a project manager at the American Chemical Society Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholars Office. She obtained her doctoral degree in biological sciences from the National University of Rosario, Argentina.

Martin served in several leadership positions at the MSU PDA, including being co-chair of the MSU PDA, and chair of the professional development committee. She was recently elected to the NPA Board of Directors and was appointed as the Resource Development Liaison for 2019. (Martin's involvement with the NPA is personal, and does not represent any endorsement by the American Chemical Society).

How did you choose your degree/career path, and how has it led to you the NPA?

Since my college years, I’ve been interested in bacterial genetics and metabolism and, specifically, how these aspects contribute to pathogenesis. After receiving my doctorate in Argentina, I decided to pursue a postdoctoral experience in the United States at Duke University Medical Center as a Pew Latin American Fellow in Biomedical Sciences. After several years as a postdoc, I found myself uncertain of what the next step in my career would be, and that led me to pursue a second postdoctoral position at MSU. During these postdoctoral experiences, I had many opportunities for professional growth and career development. I had great mentors and a village of people that made these experiences rewarding. However, I also became aware that this is still not the case for every postdoc. I believe that the postdoctoral phase, and the training opportunities offered to postdocs during this stage, are pivotal for a successful career. The inequalities in the postdoctoral experience among and even within institutions made me want to volunteer my efforts to the MSU PDA and then led me to get more involved with NPA.

What would you say has been your most valuable contribution to the NPA leadership so far?

The NPA leadership is a group of extremely committed individuals who are fervent advocates for the postdoctoral community. As a postdoc, concurrent with my role as a board member, I’d say that I have a firsthand current perspective of the postdoctoral experience. I’d say that one of my main contributions has been to work towards increasing the visibility of the NPA even further by looking for opportunities to enhance collaborations with other institutions with common interests.

In your opinion, what does the future for postdocs look like?

I think the paradigm of graduate education and the postdoctoral experience is changing. The current trends in the academic job market are intensifying the need for more holistic approaches to postdoctoral training. Although many institutions provide opportunities for postdocs to develop skills beyond research and discipline-specific conceptual knowledge, this is still not available to all postdocs. I believe that in the future, institutions will move towards providing more comprehensive and well-rounded postdoctoral training and NPA has and will continue to lead these efforts.

Avanti Dey, PhD, is a postdoctoral research scientist at the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas.




State University of New York Research Foundation Expands Postdoc Benefits while Lowering the Cost to PIs

By Kathleen Flint Ehm and Kryste Ferguson

Pills on Money

Healthcare Costs | FLICKR

Grant-funded postdoctoral scholars in the State University of New York (SUNY) system will soon have a wider array of health insurance options in a move that will cost principal investigators (PIs) far less on their grants. This seemingly paradoxical change has been made possible through a multi-campus taskforce of the SUNY Research Foundation (SUNY RF) to create a separate fringe benefits pool for postdocs, who, on average, tend to be younger and healthier than the regular staff pool. The result is a reduction of the fringe benefit cost rate from 41 percent of a postdoc’s salary to a projected 25 percent.

An additional and equally important outcome of this process is that SUNY RF will also add options for health insurance and extend those same options to postdocs on fellowships. This will provide so-called seamless benefits for the first time for postdocs who switch between PI-driven grants and prestigious individual fellowship support.

This solution of providing a separate, seamless benefits plan for all, regardless of funding source is not new within the postdoctoral community. NPA insurance partner Garnett-Powers and Associates, Inc., has employed this method for postdocs at numerous campuses over the years by establishing a separately administered benefits program for an institution’s postdocs that typically costs less.

Pills on Money

Healthcare Costs | FLICKR

A common assumption is that cheaper benefits must be lower quality, but postdocs are often less expensive to insure. “Due to their favorable demographics,” said Steve Johnson, vice president at Garnett-Powers, “postdoc plans range from 10 percent–40 percent less expensive than faculty/staff plans. In general, postdocs are younger, healthier, and do not age like faculty/staff as they can only be a postdoc for a maximum of five years.”

A Call for Benefit Equality

Nevertheless, the most recent NPA Institutional Policy Report found in 2017 that almost half of responding institutions, including SUNY’s research centers, did not offer any kind of health insurance to externally-funded postdocs on fellowships. Other types of benefits were even less common. As a result, the NPA report calls for benefit equality among all classifications of postdocs independent of funding source. SUNY RF found a novel approach to do this.

While conducting a comprehensive review of benefits for all employees at the request of the board of directors in 2016, SUNY RF formed a special taskforce of faculty, staff and administrators from across the SUNY system to examine postdoc benefits. They found that their own self-insured health insurance programs, which were already available to postdoc grant-funded employees, could allow postdocs to be pulled out into their own risk pool, effectively lowering the cost while still enjoying identical coverage.

“Key to the success of this project was a dedicated and empowered team,” said Kate Malia, director of human resources at SUNY RF, who helped lead the taskforce. “In addition, it was very important to hear directly from postdocs and faculty about what was most important to them regarding compensation, benefits, and the postdoctoral research experience. We did this by conducting focus groups at two of our larger campuses.”

This will provide so-called seamless benefits for the first time for postdocs who switch between PI-driven grants and prestigious individual fellowship support.

Through feedback from these focus groups, the team found additional cost savings in the removal of a benefit postdocs do not use: health insurance during retirement from grant-funded positions at SUNY. This combination of savings would reduce the marginal cost of benefits for grant-funded postdocs by over a third, saving the typical grant almost eight thousand dollars for an entry-level postdoc. “With seamless benefits for postdocs and the reduced cost of conducting research, our goal is to attract and retain top postdoctoral talent, thus advancing SUNY’s reputation as a leader in research and innovation,” said Malia.

A Business Case for Change

Perhaps a larger hurdle was convincing a system of over thirty four-year colleges to make the change when only about a third even employ postdocs. The taskforce needed a business case for the change, which is where the NPA and their institutional policy database came in. While a quick comparison of fringe rates among peer institutions can help catalyze campus conversation, effective benchmarking requires more nuanced information on the many ways institutions account for the cost of various benefits.

The taskforce contracted with the NPA to develop that benchmark, relying upon their knowledge of postdocs and existing institutional relationships to collect the right information. The result was a customized report on SUNY’s peer institutions that formed the foundation for the successful business case for a new postdoc fringe rate that would reduce the cost to grants while expanding health insurance options to all SUNY RF postdocs.

SUNY PIs have already started to budget new grants at the lower fringe rate that will go into effect on July 1, 2019. The only remaining challenge is convincing those PIs that the change isn’t too good to be true! When it comes to postdocs, a reduction in cost doesn’t always require a reduction in benefits.

Kathleen Flint Ehm, PhD, is director for graduate and postdoctoral professional development at Stony Brook University and represented Stony Brook on the SUNY RF postdoc fringe rate taskforce. Kryste Ferguson, MEd, is manager of membership and special projects at the NPA and led the NPA benchmarking report for the taskforce.




The Journey from Postdoc to Working in Postdoctoral Affairs

By Christopher Smith

Multicolored tools

Postdocs have many tools and transferable skills that are key to a variety of careers | Pexels

Like many postdoctoral scholars, I considered a variety of careers during my time as a postdoc at Vanderbilt University. I applied to tenure-track faculty jobs in fall 2017 and 2018, submitting nearly 25 applications each year. I talked with individuals in my immediate and extended network who worked in a variety of areas outside academia: medical writing, medical science liaison, & life science consulting.

In retrospect however, I realize I had been steadily building a portfolio of postdoc affairs involvement and professional development knowledge over the years.

Only since fall 2018 did I think that a career in postdoctoral affairs was both an option, and an area where I had the necessary qualifications. In retrospect however, I realize I had been steadily building a portfolio of postdoc affairs involvement and professional development knowledge over the years.

Involvement in Vanderbilt University Postdoctoral Association

I got my first in-depth exposure to postdoctoral affairs while working with the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association (VPA) as treasurer in 2016-17 and junior co-chair (vice president) in 2017-18. During that time, the VPA executive board and I worked with our newly centralized Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) to broaden our programming for a wider postdoc audience.

Although developing programming to be broadly relevant and useful to postdocs from varying fields, was a challenge, we made progress in reaching a larger and more diverse population of Vanderbilt postdocs through our social and professional development events. While interacting with postdocs in my leadership roles, I began to understand the range of challenges they faced: international employment issues, family care issues, mental health issues, and lack of supervisor/mentor support, just to name a few.

Networking with Postdoc Development Officers at the NPA’s Annual Conference
Typing on laptop with POSTDOCket website on screen

Writing about career development via The POSTDOCket | Pexels

My exposure to the challenges and various levels of support available to postdocs at a national level was broadened by attending the NPA’s Annual Conference in 2017 and 2018. I learned from other postdoctoral offices and organizations about work that they were doing toward improving postdoctoral career readiness (i.e., thinking broadly about career options) and outcomes.

In speaking with NPA poster presenters, I learned how they successfully campaigned for higher starting postdoc salaries, organized joint events with nearby institutions to share costs, leveraged alumni networks, and tracked career outcomes. The importance of using data to campaign for change and track interventions was a key lesson from these interactions.

Writing/Blogging about Career & Professional Development

Around the time I was becoming more involved in the postdoctoral community at Vanderbilt and beyond, I became interested in a career in science communication and medical writing. At NPA, I learned about The POSTDOCket, the online newsletter for the organization. I began writing for The POSTDOCket following the 2017 NPA meeting, where I profiled a workshop I attended by SciPhD.

Over the next few years, I wrote eight pieces for the newsletter and continue to contribute to it. My interview with Sam Castañeda, a pioneer in postdoctoral support services and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, was particularly inspiring as I learned more about the impact that postdoc offices can have on improving the postdoc experience through community building, personal and professional support services, and advocating at the state and national level. In addition, I began writing about my own journey in career exploration for the NIH BEST blog in fall 2018, in hopes that sharing my experiences of the post-PhD job hunt would help current trainee in the job market.

The take away from my own experience: listen to your gut—find a job geared toward work and a purpose you support and enjoy.

Establish a Connection with your Local Career & Professional Development Team

I have had many great examples of career and professional development resources available to me while a postdoc at Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training offers an incredible array of programming to doctoral candidates; during my graduate education I assisted in planning some of this programming. In fact, the people I worked with here were the ones who directed me towards a job ad for a postdoc program manager position for which they thought I was a good fit—it appeared to be a job where I could work to help postdocs feel more “career ready” and simultaneously try to improve institutional resources and support for them.

While applying to this and similar positions, I learned from a contact who I met at the NPA Conference (and on her LinkedIn feed, no less—the power of networking and LinkedIn in action!) of the postdoc program manager position at North Carolina State University—the ideal job for me. The story of my first “real job” offer, subsequent soul searching, and eventual acceptance of my current position can be read elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, my path to a career in postdoctoral affairs hasn’t been meticulously planned, but rather grew out of the various experiences I’ve highlighted in this article. As I reflect further on what pushed me to pursue this career path, I would say that it comes from my fundamental enjoyment in helping people. I found research mentoring to be personally fulfilling as a graduate student and postdoc, and am now a form of mentor to postdocs at NC State. To come (nearly) full circle, my first profile piece for The POSTDOCket focused on the importance of doctorally-trained individuals realizing they have transferable skills that are relevant to a variety of careers outside academia. In my new role, I am working to drive that point home to the postdocs here, helping them prepare for careers where their skills and experiences can have an impact—as I hope my position as postdoctoral program manager will.

Christopher Smith, PhD, is the postdoctoral affairs program manager at North Carolina State University.




Letter from the Executive Director

By Julie Fabsik-Swarts

NPA volunteers

Thanks to our NPA volunteers

As I compose this letter in March, it occurs to me that by the time you are reading this, the NPA Annual Conference will be over. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I know it will have been one of the most successful conferences for the NPA. The speakers, the location, and the networking available will have been second to none! I want to sincerely thank everyone who was involved in making the conference happen.

The volunteers of the Meetings Committee, which is co-chaired by Rajan Chaudhari and Kerry Kauffman, deserve a special thank you. Endless tasks were accomplished by this group, including the workshop call and selection, poster selection and judging, speaker suggestions, and overall management. Additionally, the following host committee members deserve a thank you:

  • Florida International University - Maureen Pelham and Mercedes Rodriguez
  • The Florida State University - Debra Ann Fadool, PhD
  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Institute - Tracy Costello, PhD
  • University of Central Florida - Tara Levine and John Weishampel, PhD
  • University of Southern Florida - Ruth Bahr, PhD, and Kiri Kilpatrick, PhD

Each committee member contributed time, effort, and sponsorship to the success of the conference.

Recognizing volunteers at the NPA

National Volunteer Week is celebrated April 7-13. Therefore, I also want to recognize all of the volunteers who make the NPA happen. From standing committees such as Outreach, Advocacy, Resource Development, The POSTDOCket, and Meetings, to our International and Diversity Officers to our tireless Board of Directors, the NPA runs only because volunteers step up to help the cause! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

We also hope that you have viewed our new webpage! If you aren’t involved, there is no time like now. The NPA NEEDS YOU! You can get involved in a variety of ways:

  • volunteer for a short event
  • serve on a task force
  • participate in a long-term committee

You will get great experience and networking opportunities, while contributing to an amazing organization. If you can give some time to improve the experience of postdoctoral scholars across the country, explore the volunteering opportunities by logging into your member account.

An Eye to the Future

National Postdoc Appreciation Week is just a few months away. One of the most rewarding experiences for a postdoc is to get involved with their local postdoctoral association. Helping plan events for your institution’s NPAW this year can give you the satisfaction helping to make it an amazing September!

Beyond celebrating postdocs at NPAW, we need to increase awareness about the value of postdocs everywhere and at all times. I would like to encourage you all make it a goal to teach five non-researchers what a postdoc is and why postdocs are so crucial. Join me in spreading the word that postdocs are an amazing group and showing the public their value.

Enjoy the summer!

Julie Fabsik-Swarts, PhD, is the Executive Director of the NPA.

Thank you to new and 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.

Welcome to our new members!
  • Uniformed Services University
Thank you renewed members for your continued support!
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • Purdue University
  • Scripps Research Institute
  • Tulane University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Vermont
  • Vanderbilt University

Associate Editor

Thank you!
  • Avanti Dey, PhD
  • Irina Tiper, PhD

A special thanks to Lina for all her hard work over the past year!

Events