Researchers Celebrated as Part of National Postdoc Appreciation Week

East Carolina University recognized the contributions of its postdoctoral scholar community on Friday, celebrating National Postdoc Appreciation Week with a lunch and presentation from a renowned career development researcher.

University of Illinois at Chicago Associate Dean for Research Dr. Phillip Clifford addressed a group of more than two dozen postdocs, introducing them to the myIDP platform he helped develop. The individual development plan tool provides a framework to postdoctoral scholars, assisting them in career path exploration.

Postdoctoral scholars are researchers that work under the supervision of a faculty or staff mentor as part of a larger research team. Postdocs have already completed their doctoral degrees but continue to train as researchers to gain skills and experience that help them during the next phase of their careers.

Clifford’s presentation sought to clarify some of those next-phase career options, whether they be inside or outside of a traditional academic setting.

Verbanc shakes hand of Farrow

ECU Director of Postdoctoral Affairs Kathryn Verbanac, left, presents an award to postdoctoral scholar John Farrow for his service as president of ECU’s Postdoctoral Association.

For the university’s 30 postdocs, the tools and information Clifford shared could be valuable as they prepare for life after ECU.

“It’s fantastic that we can have a nationally recognized speaker who is an expert in career development and has obviously put a lot of time in thinking about how to practically help postdocs,” said John Farrow, president of ECU’s Postdoctoral Association. “The individual goals and planning tools are great for postdocs to use to take control of their own careers and be able to make a plan for how they’re going to develop professionally.”

Clifford discussed career opportunities outside of academia, including industry and government positions. He also shared strategies for taking career development from a passive to an active activity, such as participating in skill-building experiences and internships.

ECU’s postdoctoral scholars span 18 unique departments across the university’s academic affairs, health sciences and research divisions. Former postdocs have taken positions at research campuses, public and private universities, and pharmaceutical companies, among others.

Director of Postdoctoral Affairs Kathryn Verbanac said ECU’s annual NPAW events provide a vital opportunity for the dispersed group to come together.

“These events are important because they give us a moment to pause and acknowledge the contributions of our postdocs,” Verbanac said. “We all get caught up in our own research activities and they’re spread out across the university, so it’s a nice occasion for them to come together.

“We’re going to continue professional development events throughout the academic year so they have enough information to begin plotting a career course.”

Verbanac added the university wants to be known as an attractive home for postdocs.

“We’re updating our outward-facing presence to give the university more exposure to researchers wanting to continue their careers,” she said. “We’re tracking what postdocs are doing after ECU to show that they’re having successful careers in a wide range of professions.”

Farrow, who’s beginning his fifth year as a postdoc at ECU, said a big reason he’s stayed is because of support from his mentor.

“ECU has offered me the chance to work with some great faculty members,” he said. “The atmosphere we have in our department has been very beneficial to my career. We have a strong and growing postdoc association, support from our mentors, and access to biomedical facilities. There are a lot of advantages to being here at ECU.”

Learn more about ECU’s postdoctoral activities through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Postdoc Notes

ECU’s Postdoctoral Association announced its elected 2019-20 officers at Friday’s NPAW event.

  • President: Morgan Milton, biochemistry
  • Vice President: Andrea Pereyra, physiology
  • Secretary: Helen Rodgers, emergency medicine
  • International Liaison: Eman Soliman, internal medicine
  • President Emeritus: John Farrow, microbiology

Upcoming Postdoc Events

  • Oct. 9: Dr. Shannon Jones, “How I landed my dream job at a private liberal arts institution: lessons learned”
  • Beginning Oct. 11: Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Dec. 18: NCBA and ORCID profile setups