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The NPA Celebrates National Volunteer Week
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Shakira Nelson


The week of April 15, 2018 marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week, providing an opportunity for organizations across the world to celebrate and honor their volunteers for their generous contribution of their time, talents, support, and voice. The NPA has had hundreds of volunteers over the years, and recognizes that the work we do for our membership is accomplished because of our stellar volunteers.


For the last 15 years, the NPA has grown with the help of volunteers who are driven by ideas that impact the mission and vision of our organization. As one of our Diversity Officers, Claire Horner-Devine, PhD, became a volunteer with the NPA to “[…] contribute to creating community and connections among scholars and researchers from a broad and diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. I aim to bring strong networks from neuroscience, engineering and biological sciences, with a passion to listen and learn, helping to amplify voices of members of the NPA community.” Other volunteers, including Ian Street, PhD, deputy editor of The POSTDOCket, share similar visions. “I became an NPA volunteer because it provided me the opportunity to help amplify the voices of early career researchers and improve the research enterprise.”


Our volunteers also aim to be the role models so many of our members are looking for throughout their academic career. Caleb McKinney, PhD, states, “[…] realizing the importance of having mentors and role models throughout my scientific development, and the formal and informal mentoring interactions that I've had have been paramount to alleviating cultural and social barriers to my career progression. As a Diversity Officer for the NPA, I hope to help build nationwide community among our diverse postdoctoral scholars to show the value of perspective and difference.”


“We hope to inspire visionaries and change makers, and encourage them to find an opportunity to become a volunteer.”


“Postdocs don’t always have access to personal and professional development resources. I joined the Resource Development Committee to address this need and help create new resources for NPA members”, said Erin Heckler, PhD, chair of the Resource Development Committee. Similar visions of growth are seen in each of our volunteers, many who have also been with the NPA in various capacities for years. Jennifer Aumiller, MEd, chair of the Outreach Committee, has been active in the NPA since 2014 when she served as the local co-host of the Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. She continues to volunteer because “I want to be part of an organization that has been instrumental in advancing and promoting postdoctoral fellows, helping to continuously contribute to their mission.”


We celebrate our volunteers every day, but during National Volunteer Week we aim to showcase the important role each person plays. We hope to inspire visionaries and change makers, and encourage them to find an opportunity to become a volunteer.


Below are the names of NPA volunteers without whom our organization would cease to function. We cannot give enough praise and thanks, and we hope to continue to work towards the mission and vision of our organization, creating resources and improving the experience of our members from across the world.


National Postdoctoral Association Lead Volunteers by Committee:


(This list is not intended to be exhaustive and the NPA also recognizes the importance of all our volunteers, whether they have a regular function to perform or are contributing an article for publication or part of a specific project).


Advocacy Committee: Megan Sampley Bohn, PhD & Catherine Zander, PhD (leaders) Bethany Veo, PhD; Jared Tur, PhD; Rajan Chaudhari, PhD


Diversity Officers: Caleb McKinney, PhD & Claire Horner-Devine, PhD (leaders); Shreya Patel, PhD


International Officers: Anita Gopal, PhD (leader)


Meetings Committee: Kerry Kauffman, Leo Chang, MD, PhD and Rajan Chaudhari, PhD (leaders); Adriana Bankston, PhD; Titto Augustine, PhD; Rameez Ali, PhD; Andrekia Branch; Lynda Wilmott, PhD; Tullia Bruno, PhD; Vijayalakshmi Saravanan, PhD; John Peck, Ved Mooga, PhD


Outreach Committee: Jennifer Aumiller, MEd & Catherine Zander, PhD (leader), Thierry Dubroca, PhD; Asmaa El-Kenawi, PhD; Kristen Mighty, PhD


POSTDOCket: Simone Otto, PhD; Ian Street, PhD (leaders), Elaine Wells-Gray, PhD; Irina Tiper, PhD; Kristy Hentchel, PhD; Stephani Page, PhD; Viviane Callier, PhD; Lina Cheuy, PhD


Resource Development Committee: Erin Heckler, PhD (leaders), Sina Safayi, PhD; Holly Carpenter, Mitch D’Rozario, PhD


Board of Directors: Tracy Costello, PhD; Stephanie Eberle, MEd; Josh Henkin, PhD; Barbara Natalizio, PhD; Andrew Bankston, PhD; Tullia Bruno, PhD; Juliet Moncaster, PhD; Shakira Nelson, PhD; Kristen Scott, PhD; Yvette Seger, PhD; Jana Stone, PhD


If you are interested in joining the NPA and becoming a volunteer, we encourage you to visit the NPA website ( and take a closer look at each of our committees!


Shakira Nelson, PhD, is a senior scientific program administrator at the American Association for Cancer Research, and a NPA member of the Board of Directors.