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The Importance of Community: NPAW 2018
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Jennifer Aumiller. Catherine Brooks Zander, and Dolonchapa Chakraborty


NPAW heart

NPAW aims to spread the love, for postdocs!

September 17–21, 2018 was the 9th annual National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW). Every year during NPAW, institutions and universities recognize postdoctoral scholars for their incredible contributions and dedication to their work and to their communities. This year was no exception. With more than 400 reported events across the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, this was the largest NPAW ever.


Focus on Wellness During NPAW

The 2018 NPAW showcased an increasing trend of wellness programs. Yoga, the most popular wellness option, was offered at:

  • Stanford University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • The Gladstone Institute
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

The continued addition of programs that feature community and family, relaxation, and recognition for work outside the lab, make it clear that we as a community continue to grow and improve.


Other institutes had unique takes on wellness programs. The University of Waterloo had a Thai boxing class and the University of Southern California offered hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling on Catalina Island. Team sports were the focus at Clemson University, which offered bowling, and University of Kansas Medical Center where soccer was an option.


From Professional Development to Fun During NPAW

Most institutions provided an array of programs to foster professional skills development including:

  • grant writing
  • networking
  • job talks
  • research statements
  • LinkedIn
  • CV and resume workshops

One reported highlight was Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s “How Not to Die in the Public Speaking Arena.” This levity was seen in social programs as well, including PostDoctoberFest— celebrated at Duke University (where is originated) and John’s Hopkins School of Medicine, it is a night of postdoc community fun, German beer, and sausages—and the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Hogwarts-themed banquet.


Successful NPAW Programs Spread

It is wonderful to see how successful programs can spread to other institutions. For example, the University of Alabama at Birmingham was featured in Science and our own POSTDOCket for their whimsical Postdoc Achievement awards, featuring a personal favorite, the Dr. Congeniality award, and this year Cornell and Boston University have announced their own inaugural Postdoc Achievement and Service Awards. This spread of ideas is one example of many of how coming together as a community improves the postdoctoral experience.


NYU postdoc holds up T-shirt

An NYU Postdoc shows off her NPAW T-shirt in excitement.

When postdocs report their favorite events of NPAW, the strength of their community is paramount. From pizza parties, picnics, trivia, dance parties, or coffee, the events most loved are those that bring the community together. We at the NPA are proud of our part in this community and hope the camaraderie of NPAW will continue all year. We applaud and appreciate postdocs and the efforts that institutes and universities put in to care for, thank, and appreciate their postdocs. The continued addition of programs that feature community and family, relaxation, and recognition for work outside the lab, make it clear that we as a community continue to grow and improve.


Next year will be the 10th anniversary of NPAW; with your help we hope to report events at more universities all over the world and moreover to see reported events across all 50 states!


*If you don’t see your institution’s NPAW events on the NPA webpage please contact us and we will add it!


Jennifer Aumiller, MEd, is director of the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Catherine Brooks Zander, PhD, is a research fellow in the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dolonchapa Chakraborty, PhD, is a postdoc at New York University Langone. They are the Outreach Committee co-chairs and vice chair for the NPA.


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