Postdoctoral Affairs E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

November 3, 2021

Dear Postdoctoral Fellow Community,

Thank you to our VPA Symposium Planning Committee on their hard work and dedication in making the 15th Annual VPA Symposium a success!  Congratulations to the award winners listed below!

During the day’s symposium, we had the opportunity to learn about many of your research agendas through 27 posters and seven lightning round talks. I hope you were inspired by your colleagues’ work and were able to enjoy each others’ company during the networking hour.

Finally, as we look toward the holidays, I would like to invite you to a holiday luncheon for our postdoc community. Please save the date of Monday, December 6 from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. This will be held in the Student Life Center ballrooms. A formal announcement and link to RSVP will be forthcoming.

I look forward to seeing you there.


C. André Christie-Mizell, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Dean of the Graduate School
Centennial Professor of Sociology


Review of 15th Annual VPA Symposium and Awards

The 15th Annual VPA Symposium was held on Monday, November 1. The interdisciplinary one-day conference consisted of a keynote by Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield, poster presentations, lightning talks, an advising session with Dr. Ashley Brady, and a lively reception to end the day. Congratulations to the following award recipients:

Poster Winners:

  • Chitra Basu
  • Hubaida Fuseini
  • Clément Garin

Talk Winners:

  • Harry Barbee
  • Michael Kammer

English Language Center (ELC) Workshop for Postdocs

On December 10, 2021 from 10-11 a.m., the English Language Center (ELC) will provide a workshop for postdocs covering strategies for effectively communicating with your advisor or mentor, resources for balancing productivity and mental health while managing postdoc responsibilities, and general tips for making the most of your postdoc years. This workshop is available to all incoming international VU and VUMC postdocs. Register here to reserve your spot.

Upcoming Wellness Workshops

Holiday Stress: November 8, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Holidays are meant to be times of joy but often they are times of unfulfilled expectations. Learn to give compassion to ourselves and others during these unusual, divisive, and stressful times. Presenter: Ellen Clark, LCSW, CEAP, EAP Clinical Counselor of Work/Life Connections-EAP. Register here.

Chasing the Elusive Work/Life Balance: January 24, 2022 at 12 p.m.
Trying to create a healthy balance between your professional and personal life is complex. It changes depending upon your priorities, stage of life, and responsibilities. The trick is to consider a Life Allotment Plan that can help you budget your time so you fit in things that are important. Presenter: Jim Kendall, LCSW CEAP Register here.

International Postdoc Programming

Self-Petitioned Pathways to Permanent Residency: Immigration Attorney David Ware: November 16, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.
International scholars – ISSS at Vanderbilt University hosts immigration attorney David Ware with Ware Immigration. He will present on building your CV to provide you with options/pathways to U.S. permanent residency which are self-petitioned, focusing on national interest waivers (NIW’s) and EB-1A’s for those of Extraordinary Ability. This workshop will not cover University-sponsored pathways to a green card. This session will not be recorded, so please make sure to attend if you are interested. The attorney does not provide legal advice, but rather general information to get you thinking about these topics. Register here.

For questions, please contact Julie Wilbers for more information.

Professional and Career Development Programming

Work-Life Workshops: Gaslighting in the Workplace: November 4 at 12 p.m.
Presented by Heather Kamper, LCSW, EAP Clinical Counselor and Coordinator of the VUMC SHARE Center. Register Here.

Career Connections: Alumni Perspective on Navigating the Job Search (Humanities and Social Sciences): November 5, 2021 at 12 p.m.
What’s next? Hear PhDs and postdocs share how they negotiated the twists and turns of their job search to enter the workforce successfully. Zoom Meeting ID: 988 1808 5292 & Passcode: 805552

AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows Panel: November 8, 2021 at 1 p.m.
This panel will include current and former AAAS STP Fellows to discuss their experiences as fellows and answer your questions. STEM graduate students and postdocs considering careers in public policy or applying for the AAAS STP Fellowship, this behind the scenes look will provide insights to potential career opportunities.
For more information including a list of panelists, visit the STEM Policy website or register here.

AAUW Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop: November 9, 2021 at 4-5:30 p.m.
Presented by Rory Dicker and Brianna Nesbitt of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center. Register Here.

ASPIRE Cafe: K Awards: Which One is Right For You?: November 11, 2021 at 11 a.m.
Join Abigail Brown Ph.D., BRET Director of Outcomes Research, to learn the basics about the different types of K awards, from institutional (K12) to K99 awards. Register here.

Career Connections: Alumni Perspective on Navigating the Job Search (STEM): November 12, 2021 at 12 p.m.
What’s next? Hear PhDs and postdocs share how they negotiated the twists and turns of their job search to enter the workforce successfully. Zoom Meeting ID: 970 7014 2638 & Passcode: 769814

Women in the Academy: A Conversation About Mentoring: November 17, 2021 at 12 p.m.
A panel discussion with Carcia Carson, Ph.D. student, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Maya Krause, Ph.D. student, Department of Anthropology, Dina Stroud, Executive Director, Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program, Tiffiny Tung, Professor, Department of Anthropology. Register here.

ASPIRE Job Search Series: Writing a Better Cover Letter: November 18, 2021 at 11 a.m.
Learn cover letter basics such as general cover letter structure, what should be/should not be included, & what it means to tailor your letter to the position. Register here.

ASPIRE Cafe: How to Give a Chalk Talk: December 9, 2021 at 11 a.m.
A chalk talk is an informal presentation and discussion of your research program given during a faculty interview. Hear from a panel of faculty members who will share their tips on how to impress in this interview setting. Register here.

Latest Vanderbilt COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements

All Vanderbilt University-employed faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021–22 academic school year. As a part of Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 response and in light of increasing case numbers in Nashville and the surrounding community, the university is implementing random asymptomatic testing—or “sentinel” testing—to detect and forecast possible infection trends and provide early warning signs of outbreak. Refer to the latest guidance and protocols, including mask mandates here.

All VUMC employees are required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption from this requirement as a condition of employment. Additionally, VUMC has updated their masking requirements for all VUMC employees.


Stay in the Loop!

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA)

Events for Postdocs


Vanderbilt’s Health and Safety Protocols

Postdoc Spotlight: Inga Saknite, Ph.D.

Dr. Inga Saknite just finished her postdoctoral training in the department of Dermatology in VUMC. She has written about her experience as a postdoc at Vanderbilt in our first postdoc-written feature. Read about her experience at Vanderbilt here.

NIH Loan Repayment Programs
Awardees can receive up to $100,000 of qualified educational debt repayment with a two-year contract. The application cycle closes November 18, 2021. Learn more.

Academic Life Coach Corner

The Fall Peak Performance Series is underway. All sessions are offered on Fridays from 12-1 p.m.

Join the BCC Hot Topics and KCPC Cafe as they lead discussions on navigating graduate school and the postdoc experience and host coffee breaks through the fall semester.

Academic Life Coaches offer individual coaching sessions in Alumni Hall, Science & Engineering Library, and via Zoom.

Career Coaches Corner

Vanderbilt alumni are a valuable resource when navigating the job search. Alumni can provide perspective on a profession of interest, insight on company culture and possibly knowledge on upcoming employment opportunities. Here are 3 tips for engaging with alumni: 

1.       Attend alumni events  with the goal of creating meaningful connections 

2.       Prepare a list of questions to learn and build connections with alumni 

3.       Utilize university affiliations and social media to stay connected and expand your alumni network 

For more tips, check out this article from Indeed. To begin your alumni networking journey, attend the Career Center alumni panels on November 5 and 12 to hear PhDs and postdocs share how they negotiated the twists and turns of their job search to enter the workforce successfully. 

CV/Resume Virtual Drop-In hours: Senior Career Coaches, Christina and Kayla, are available on Fridays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. via Zoom to review your resume, CV, or cover letter, as well as answer any quick questions regarding next steps in your career journey. Drop-ins are 20-minute sessions. Join Zoom Meeting (Meeting ID: 950 4609 0342; Passcode: 998569)

Basic Sciences magazine, Vestigo out now!
Issue 3 of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences magazine, Vestigo, is out now. There are three ways to view the magazine. Vestigo, Issue 3, can be found here.

Save the Date: TedXVanderbiltUniversity

TedXVanderbiltUniversity has been scheduled for April 10, 2022. More details about the event will be announced at a later date.

Intellectual Nourishment

As we look forward to the new year, holidays, and vacation, our productivity has a tendency to slow. Read this Forbes article on Three Ways to Keep Your Productivity High at the End of the Year.

Graduate Leadership Institute Fall Workshops

The Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute (GLI) fall workshops are open to postdocs.

Women’s Center Fall Workshops

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center has announced their workshops for the fall semester.

Data Science Institute Fall Workshops

Data Science Institute Workshops are open to the entire Vanderbilt community.

Job and Funding Opportunities

Looking for funding or searching for your next position? Check out our current funding and job opportunities page.

NPA Affiliate Memberships available to all postdocs

Are you interested in becoming a member of the National Postdoctoral Association? Use this link to become a Vanderbilt Affiliate Member.

BRET Career Development ASPIRE Program for Postdocs

The BRET Career Development ASPIRE Program provides career and professional development services and enrichment activities for postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences at VU and VUMC.