Celebrating postdocs at Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s Graduate College took part in its very first National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) celebration this September to honor postdocs and their achievements in research and discovery, and plans for a new, permanent Postdoctoral Affairs Office are currently underway.

The National Postdoc Association defines a postdoc as “an individual holding a postdoctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.” There are approximately 300 postdocs at ASU who all contribute to the university’s success as the leader of innovation.

“Postdocs are an invaluable part of a research university’s make-up. But, sometimes their efforts fly under the radar,” said Tamara Underiner, associate dean of academic affairs at the ASU Graduate College. “That’s why we’re planning a new Postdoctoral Affairs Office, to be able to better support their work and to bring light to postdocs’ contributions to innovation, especially considering ASU’s is number one in innovation for third year in a row. Due to the nature of their work, postdocs can be isolated from each other, we’d like to create a community where postdocs can feel included and supported.”

As part of ASU’s participation in NPAW, the Graduate College hosted three events throughout the week for postdocs to attend, learn and socialize with each other. The first event of the week was a social that took place on Sept. 18 at Culinary Dropout in Tempe. Postdocs were able to meet up with and speak with their peers.

Two professional development brown bags followed on Wednesday and Friday of that week. Guest speakers, Science Foundation Arizona Fellow Len Fine, and Associate Dean Brian H. Smith, who is also a professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences, provided their insights on topics such as “how to make the most of your time as a postdoc” and “transitioning from graduate school to postdoc life.”

The Graduate College also delivered balloons and thank you notes around campus to show appreciation for all of the contributions and hard work of these individuals.

This is the eighth National Postdoc Appreciation Week celebration sponsored by the National Postdoctoral Association. The event has been growing since its creation in 2009 and in 2016, 98 institutions in the United States, Canada and India took part in organizing 350 events to honor postdocs and their research.