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Join us for the 2016 Annual Meeting!
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The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Annual Meeting is the largest meeting and networking event in the postdoctoral community. Each meeting is highly engaging and productive for postdoctoral scholars, administrators, and other individuals working to enhance the postdoctoral experience. Our Annual Meetings are held each year in the spring. 


Presentations | Speakers | Agenda | Lodging | Registration - NOW CLOSED | Sponsorship Information | Pre-meeting Session | Saturday Night Event | Grand Rapids info & logistics | Refund Policy


March 4 - 6, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI

Hosted by:
The Van Andel Research Institute



Download the mobile event app!


Keynote Speaker

Paula Chambers, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO, Versatile PhD

Paula Chambers, Ph.D., was dissertating in English at Ohio State in 1999 when she realized she would prefer a non-academic career.  Not finding much information about her options, she created a listserv on non-academic careers for humanities doctoral recipients, the first of its kind. She continued to manage the list for years while having her own successful non-academic career as a grant writer. In 2010, she transformed the list into Versatile PhD, a web-based career education service for doctoral students and new doctoral recipients interested in non-academic careers. In 2011, she expanded Versatile PhD to include STEM disciplines. Versatile PhD now has over 75 institutional subscribers and over 60,000 individual members. Chambers runs Versatile PhD from her home office in Los Angeles.


Plenary Speakers

Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D., serves as associate provost for diversity and inclusion at Northwestern University. In addition, he is an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. As the university’s chief diversity officer, he is responsible for leading and coordinating efforts to create a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for all Northwestern community members. Prior to joining Northwestern, Bennett served as associate dean of the graduate school, associate dean for diversity in the Division of Biology and Medicine, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. In the graduate school he was responsible for recruitment and coordinating professional development activities for graduate students and postdocs. In the Division of Biology and Medicine, he oversaw the recruitment and advancement of medical students, faculty and trainees who are members of underrepresented groups. Before his appointment at Brown, he served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and directed the Office for Multicultural Faculty Careers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Previously, he also served as senior director of development for life sciences, healthcare and education industry partnerships with United Way of Massachusetts Bay in Boston, and as research and science specialist in the Office for Diversity and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School.

Bennett received his Bachelor of Science in biology and minor in Spanish from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University, and his doctoral degree in biomedical sciences from Meharry Medical College. At Meharry he was funded as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Alliance for the Enhancement of Science Education and Technology Graduate Teaching Fellow, and later as a UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Research Fellow while training in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. Bennett is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Education Policy Fellowship Program and the Harvard University Administrative Fellowship Program.


Lauren Celano, MBA, is the co-founder and CEO of Propel Careers, a life science search and career development firm focused on connecting talented individuals with entrepreneurial innovative life sciences companies. She is very passionate about working with individuals with strong scientific backgrounds to find exciting growth opportunities in the life sciences industry. Before Propel, she spent about 10 years in the life sciences industry working with companies to advance drug molecules through SNBL USA, Aptuit, Quintiles, and Absorption Systems. She has a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Gettysburg College, and a Master of Business Administration with a focus in the health sector and entrepreneurship from Boston University. Celano is on the Board of MassBioEd, the advisory board of the Boston University School of Public Health Pharmaceuticals Program, and the advisory board for Endicott College Boston. She also serves on the Gettysburg College entrepreneurial fellowship advisory council and the programming committee of the Capital Network.


Joseph Lazio, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist of the Interplanetary Network Directorate at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He received his doctoral degree from Cornell University, was a U.S. National Research Council Research Associate at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and was a Radio Astronomer on the staff of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, before joining JPL. He served as the Project Scientist for the U.S. Virtual Astronomical Observatory, the Project Scientist for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), and the Deputy Director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR), part of the NASA Lunar Science Institute. His science interests include studying Cosmic Dawn, the epoch of the formation of first stars; gravitational waves and pulsar timing; and extrasolar planets and planet formation. He is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the proposed Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE), which would be a lunar orbiter designed to search for the effects of the first stars on the gas from which they formed. He also observes routinely with the world's premier ground-based radio telescopes, including the Very Large Array, the Very Long Baseline Array, the Green Bank Telescope, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, and the Australia Telescope Compact Array.


Nancy B. Schwartz, Ph.D., is dean for postdoctoral affairs and co-director of the Office of Graduate Affairs, having served as dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in the Division of Biological Sciences for more than 25 years. She has served on several National Institutes of Health (NIH) study sections, foundation review boards and editorial boards, the AAMC-GREAT steering committee, chair of both graduate deans and postdoc leaders groups, and the founding Advisory Board of the NPA. She is director of the Kennedy Research Center, the NICHD M.D./Ph.D. training program, HHMI Med into Grad Program, and NIGMS PREP, IMSD, and NRMN-CAN. She has had continuous NIH R01 research funding, received both a MERIT award and a Mentor of Excellence from NIH, and is director of an NIH Program Project. Schwartz’s functions and responsibilities in graduate and postdoctoral education and program administration have focused on evolving and complex educational needs of emerging researchers in the life sciences.


Elizabeth L. Travis, Ph.D., FASTRO, is the associate vice president for women faculty programs and Mattie Allen Fair professor in cancer research in the departments of experimental radiation oncology and pulmonary medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is an internationally recognized scientist who’s made significant contributions to our understanding of the effects of radiation on normal tissues in her 25 years in the field. As associate vice president, she is a consummate advocate for women faculty and committed to furthering their academic careers by ensuring they are appointed to high profile committees and leadership positions, by leading institutional policy change to address obstacles that interfere with women’s success, and by providing career guidance to countless women faculty.

Travis is a principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants: a U54 partnership grant with Puerto Rico, “Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research,” and an R01 grant “Gatekeepers and Gender Schemas,” which seeks to understand the role that gender plays in choosing faculty for tenure track positions.

She is a fellow of the American Society of Radiation Oncology, recipient of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Development Award for an individual (2009) and an institution (2012). She was inducted into the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame in 2012, and elected as a member of its Board of Directors in 2013. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Women in Science. She was recognized at the Houston Italian Cultural and Community Center’s 12th annual gala honoring the Italian influence in medicine, and is the recipient of the 2014 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award by The American Association for Women Radiologists. She is the current chair of the Group on Women in Medicine and Science, Association of American Medical Colleges.


Implementing Research Mentor Training through Your Postdoc Office


March 3, 2016 (pre-meeting workshop)
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with 1 hour lunch break
Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI
Tomatis Auditorium



This workshop is co-sponsored by the National Research Mentoring Network, NIH U54GM1199023


Attendees in the pre-meeting workshop will gain the knowledge needed to plan for successful implementation of research mentor training for postdocs and/or their mentors using curricula in the evidence-based Entering Mentoring series. Curricula in this series have been used successfully with research mentors of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral trainees and faculty across science, engineering, mathematics, medicine and public health disciplines. To read more, click here.




Lodging for the meeting will be at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

A special rate of $159 per night (plus tax) has been negotiated for NPA meeting attendees. This rate is good through February 2, 2016, and while rooms last.

Additional lodging has been secured at the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott, 11 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. A special rate of $159 per night (plus tax) has been negotiated for NPA meeting attendees. This rate is good through February 12, 2016, and while rooms last. Make your reservation today!


Saturday Night Event

Van Andel Research Institute will host a networking dinner on Saturday, March 5. The dinner will be held at the institute right after the poster session. Dinner will be buffet style and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $25 and should be purchased during registration.

Post-dinner entertainment


For those that want to continue the festivities after dinner, the local host committee recommends The B.O.B as a great place to go for after-dinner entertainment. The B.O.B. has multiple entertainment options under one roof and is within walking distance from VARI and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (climate controlled sky way from hotel leads to adjacent B.O.B. entrance). The Silver Line bus and taxis/Uber are alternatives (see directions page for details). 


Refund Policy

In event of cancellation by February 5, 2016, a full refund less a $25 processing fee will be issued. For cancellations from February 6, 2016, through February 19, 2016, a 50% refund less a $25 processing fee will be issued. No refunds will be made for cancellations after February 19, 2016.