Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW-2014) Institutionally Marked and Celebrated Across The U.S., Canada & Other Parts of The World

Postdoc Appreciation Week, culminated with the passage of H.RES. 1545, through the U.S. House of Representatives was officially recognized in 2010. The event seeks recognition of the tremendous contributions, the postdoctoral scholars make to the U.S. scientific enterprises of research and discovery.

Washington, DC,/09/24/2014/-Special Correspondent// Featured News/ ContentCo-GNN – National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) evolved out of National Postdoc Appreciation Day, has now become the nation’s largest celebration of postdoctoral scholars. This year, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) celebrated the 5th annual ‘National Postdoc Appreciation Week’ (NPAW). Over 300 events were hosted at over 117 institutions in 36 states. The NPAW events were held throughout the week across U.S., Canada, and SAARC region countries in an institutional conjunction with Asia and Oceania.

The Postdoc Appreciation Week was launched in order to increase awareness of postdoctoral scholars, and to recognize the tremendous contributions, they make to the U.S. scientific enterprises of research and discovery.

A postdoctoral scholar “postdoc” is an individual who has completed his or her doctorate in a specific area of research and becomes engaged for a certain period of time in mentored research and/or scholarly training under the direct supervision of a principal investigator (PI) for the purpose of acquiring the academic proficiency, needed to pursue a scholarly track of his or her choosing.

In 2010, National Postdoc Appreciation Week was officially recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives, culminated with the passage of H.RES. 1545.

NPAW’s week-long celebrations are marked and celebrated under diverse themes of different disciplines, every year.

During the week-long celebrations, institutions are encouraged to plan activities that increase an academic awareness about postdoctoral experience. Celebration activities included the formal institutional events ranging from postdoc orientations, webinars, research symposiums, technical descriptions and scientific expositions, panel discussions and informal social junctures including open house events, networking socials, coffee & ice-cream gather-ups, social walks and other communal podia.  

NPAW-2014 was coordinated by the NPA Outreach Committee, which works to promote the mission, values, goals, and business objectives of the NPA. Dr. Majda Haznadar, Ph.D., and Dr. Barbara Natalizio, Ph.D., served as co-chair of the committee.

Amongst the noted events taken place during the NPAW-2014, include:

A postdoc webinar entitled “Increasing Your Visibility and Participation in SOT as an Early Career Toxicologist” was hosted by Kathryn Page. This session included a diverse panel of speakers covering several different areas surrounding the value of SOT membership to professional advancement. Panelists include: Dr. William Slikker Jr., Ph.D., ATS, Director of US FDA-NCTR; Lauren M. Aleksunes, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Rutgers University; Dr. Mary Beth Genter, Ph.D., DABT, ATS, Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati; Dr. Betina J. Lew, Ph.D., Senior Toxicologist at Church & Dwight. Dr. Patrick Allard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at UCLA, with “Transitioning into an Academic Position: The Entropy of an Exciting Period of your Career”; Dr. Chris Banks, Ph.D., Associate Toxicologist at California EPA in the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, with ” Transitioning into Government: From Academia to a Stable Government Position“; and Dr. Katie Paul, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor in the Regulatory Toxicology Group at Bayer CropScience with “Transitioning into Industry: Steps to Take to Work in Regulatory Toxicology”.

The Robert Wood Johnson/Rutgers PDA held symposium, during NPAW, highlighting the work done by postdoctoral researchers at institutions in New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. This year, they expressed and conveyed the feelings of being extremely honored for their keynote speaker Dr. Shirley Tilghman, Ph.D., a prominent researcher, educator, advocate for biomedical research training and the 19th president of Princeton University. They also featured an invited thematic talk by Dr. Linda Stomato, co-director of the Center for Negotiation & Conflict Resolution at Rutgers University.

During the course of Postdoc Appreciation Week Celebrations by the SAARC Region Post-doc Network, the SAIRI Research Initiative presented a special annotation-note annexed to a post-doc cloistered marginal-note on ‘The United Nations MDGs and Post 2015 Extension-scenarios’, that entails the multifarious academic aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and the thematic marginal segments of MDGs in post 2015. The first ‘postdoc annotation-note’ on UN-MDGs was prepared by Qadhi Prof. Aurangzeb Al Hafi, D. Litt., a multidisciplinary arch-researcher and the principal investigator at SAIRI and UNESCO Chair at University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s (DFCI) Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office (PGSAO), together with DFCI’s Postdoc and Graduate Student Association (PGA) hosted events and provided an opportunity for postdocs and graduate students to meet with the President Edward Benz, M.D., in a relaxed setting to enjoy lunch and ask questions.

The University of Notre Dame planned for 2014 NPAW, a Demonstration comprising a repository for academic and professional information.

The Post-Doc Network Asia-Oceania (PDNA-O) marked the NPAW celebrations. The mentored sessions at PDNA-O were presided by Justice(R) S.S. Paru Dehlvi, L.L.D., who also holds at present the PDNA-O chief patron-ship, Dr. Mahateer from Malaysia, Dr. Dass U from India, and Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, former Sri Lanka’s Ombudsperson and High Commissioner in Australia,  co-chaired the NPAW sessions. Justice Paru (L.L.D.) presented a thorough analysis with a tri-fold synthesis of the prevalent situation of ‘social injustice’ that is gradually becoming predominant in the customary frameworks of nearly every sector, segment and section of human life.

The University of California (UC), Berkeley hosted a luncheon reception at the Bancroft Hotel, The Vice Chancellor for Research, who has governance over postdocs, presided the event.

SciPhD co-founders, Dr. Randall Ribardo and Larry Petcovic, led a half day training workshop entitled “Preparing for Careers in Industry”.

Dr. Robert Tanguay at Oregon State University (OSU) gave post-doc orientations as the keynote speaker on “Starting a career in academia as an independent investigator”.

Noted institutional participations for 2014 NPAW events, emanated from: The University of California (UC), Berkeley, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UT Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA), UT San Antonio (UTSA), Texas Biomedical Research Institute, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), San Antonio Postdoctoral Research Forum,Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,  University of Southern California, Stanford University, University of Colorado, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), UNESCO Chair at University of Punjab-CIMR, Lahore, NextGen Association for Postdocs, University of Florida, University of Miami,  Moffitt Cancer Center Postdoctoral Association (MPDA), The Offices of Academic Affairs and Mentoring Programs at Rush University, University of Iowa (UI), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s (DFCI) Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office (PGSAO), UNESCO- SAARC Hydro-toxicology Observatory at Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, The Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) Office for Research Careers (ORC), University of Rochester, Society of Toxicology (SOT), SAIRI Research Initiative Pakistan, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Penn State Hershey Postdoctoral Society, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), UT Health Science Center San Antonio, University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and University of Pennsylvania.

Noted PIs, research panelists, thematic mentors and keynote postdoc speakers include: Dr. Frances Colón, Acting Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State from the U.S. Department of State; Prof. Jack Szostak, Professor of Genetics and Chemistry, Harvard University; Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., Vice Provost, University of Texas; Justice (R) Dr. S.S. Paru Dehlvi, L.L.D., Professor Victor Nizet; Dr. Patrick Allard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at UCLA,  Dr. Chris Banks, Ph.D., Associate Toxicologist at California EPA in the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; Prof. Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi, Ph.D., Principal Investigator for Child Disability Preventative Measures at SAIRI, SAARC sector’s PI for Iatro-Teratology & Hydro-toxicological Assessments; Dr. Katie Paul, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor in the Regulatory Toxicology Group at Bayer Crop-Science; and  Dr. Jennifer Stedron, Ph.D., of Stedron Consulting, Inc.

Featured speakers, work-shops trainers, dialogue moderators and non-postdoc research contributors include Linda A. Dykstra Hylander, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology (Affiliated with Neuroscience Program University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) ; Joe Thomas, Dr. Frances Colon, Dr. Molly Hatcher, Dr. Rafael Luna, Ph.D., Dr. Dass U, Ph.D., Dr. Erin Dolan, Executive Director (Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science), Dr. Umar Farooq (SAARC Hydro-toxicology Assessor DUHS), Dr. Khalida Khan (UNESCO-CIMR,PU), Dr. Terry Potter, Dr. Linda Harris, Ph.D, Dr. Tammy R. L. Collins, Ph.D., Dr. F.M. Bhatti (SAIRI-SAARC), Dr. Denise Saunders, Ph.D., Dr. Deepa Singh, Dr. Jacqueline Powell, Ph.D., Jillian Orans, Ph.D. and Dr. Winston-Salem.

Stony Brook University is holding a series of events throughout the month to celebrate NPAW.

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Florida offered a new postdoc orientation by a keynote address and workshop with Dr. Chris Hass, College of Health and Human Performance.

Florida State University (FSU) planned a postdoctoral scholars’ symposium at the College of Medicine. The keynote speaker Sir Harry Kroto delivered a post-doc talk on “How to Survive”, together with a communication workshop by Dr. Donna Decker, College of Business, Department of Management.

University of Chicago, UIC, Rush University Medical Center, Northwetern University and Argonne National Laboratory, hosted an annual NPAW reception, which featured a keynote address by Chicago Innovation Exchange Executive Director, John Flavin, complemented by a diverse career panel discussion and a networking reception.

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne hosted an open forum with Laboratory Director, Peter Littlewood. The event provided a chance for postdocs to have a conversation directly with the Laboratory Director!

University of Iowa Postdoctoral Association (UIPDA) organized several events to celebrate their postdocs. A symposium for postdoctoral scholars and fellows was organized which comprised of several presentations on different topics by Paul Casella .

On 22nd, at the University of Louisville, the featured speaker of 5th annual postdoc appreciation Dr. Harini Aiyer, Research Scientist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is delivering  a presentation on “At the Nexus of Education and Immigration: Career Options for International Graduates and Postdocs in Life Sciences”.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) celebrated NPAW by hosting their annual postdoc awards luncheon where two awards were given out. The Paul W. Kincade Outstanding Grantsmanship Award is given to the postdoc for the best grant while the Charles T. Esmon Outstanding Publication award is given to a postdoc for the best manuscript. Every year OMRF recognizes the hard work and dedication of their postdocs by singling out two individuals with the best paper and grant.

SAIRI, in collaborative research-partnership with UNESCO chair at Punjab University, Lahore, and Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, presented five thematic reports entailing interdisciplinary focusses and on the constant perpetuation of multiple toxicological outbreaks, that are threatening the human life on the earth, the ecological sustainability and whole of the environment in its totality, especially the hydro-toxification of the under-ground water reserves, that constantly, are being polluted by the unfair and disproportionate burdens of heavy toxins, posed by the sewage systems in Asian and African countries.

An extra special event took place at the Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office (PGSAO). The morning began with a talk from Dr. Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., Vice Provost, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Piwnica-Worms was also the recipient of the first DFCI Distinguished Postdoc Alumnus Award.

Next was a panel discussion moderated by Lauren Celano, CEO of Propel Careers. Four DFCI postdocs gave oral presentations followed by keynote speaker, Dr. Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The day ended with an awards reception where awards were presented to individuals with the two best posters and two best oral presentations in the amount of $1,000 each. In addition, Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Barrett Rollins, M.D., Ph.D., presented an award to the 3rd Annual Mentor-of-the-Year.                                  
Dr. Heather Steinman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Innovation, discussed new perspectives for success in science. Drs. Sherri Moores and Kate Sasser, industry scientists from Johnson & Johnson, presented “Perspectives on Scientific Careers in Industry”.
UTMB postdoc Dr. Ali Pohlmeier, Ph.D., while pursuing her doctorate in nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, studied the pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. She became intrigued by the possible connection between diet, insulin, and the symptoms of PCOS.
The First annual Columbia University Postdoc Research and Career Symposium was held by Columbia University Medical Center. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) is hosting the 2nd annual San Antonio Postdoc Research Forum with keynote speaker, Dr. Frances Colon,
The University of California, San Diego has planned for celebrating NPAW the entire month.

The Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs and Postdoctoral Association have the following scheduled for postdocs: ‘Insights to Industry workshop’–Led by Randall Ribaudo and Larry Petcovic for SciPhD, this workshop introduces 24 business competencies valued in industry, relating them to postdoc research experiences.

At the UC San Diego, as part of the NPAW 2014 OPVSA offered IDP workshops and announced 2013 Best Postdoc Mentor Award recipients,  Professor Victor Nizet, Prof. of Pediatrics and Pharmacy and Professor Michael Sailor, Prof. of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

The PDA is hosting a 2nd annual postdoc research symposium on 26th, to showcase the outstanding work of UCSD postdocs.

OPVSA is also hosting the annual postdoc appreciation luncheon and award ceremony where it honors the amazing postdoc cohort and recognizes the outstanding mentor and ‘postdoc of the year’.

“Postdocs face a lot of challenges, which may cause stress and uncertainty”. This workshop, presented by the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program in partnership with, and co-sponsored by Office of Postdoctoral & Visiting Scholar Affairs (OPVSA) and PDA OPVSA, shared tools on how to manage stress and discuss the available resources at UC San Diego.

A special presentation was made on ‘Postdoc Stress’ by Carol Kerr, M.Ed, LPC, LCDC, CEAP from UTMB’s Employee Assistance Program. The ways were discussed to improve the work/life balance.

In celebration of the NPAW, the postdoctoral association (PDA) hosted the 4th annual postdoctoral mentor/mentee breakfast. Dr. Terry Potter, acting Dean of the Graduate School, addressed the event at the University of Colorado, followed by a general assembly of the PDA.

Dr. Varun Vyas, Ph.D. from Institute for Material Sciences presented a search-probe titled “Depth Dependent Indentation Profiles of Live Cells and Bipolymers”, at the Postdoc interdepartmental research seminar series in Connecticut.

New fellows’ orientations were made by Dr. Tammy R. L. Collins, Ph.D.,Dr. Denise Saunders, Ph.D., Dr. Deepa Singh, Dr. Jacqueline Powell, Ph.D., Jillian Orans, Ph.D. and Dr Winston-Salem.

In marking NPAW, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Sea Education Association, and the Woods Hole Research Center also made celebrations.

A UNC-PDA symposium featured the biotech-industry.

For postdocs and their PI’s. there were panels of past ‘Distinguished Mentor’ award winners. PI’s are nominated for this award by their postdocs and it is awarded in the spring at the postdoc research symposia.

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