Events

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs sponsors many events on campus, including grant writing workshops, tips for applying for faculty positions, and other career development activities.

View events that may be of interest to postdocs on the University Calendar.

Postdoc Events

Ongoing Activities and Event Series

  • Speak Easy - A Postdoc Talk Series

    Are you a post-doctoral researcher interested in polishing your “lay” scientific communication skills by giving a short 10-minute presentation to your peers and others in the Vanderbilt community in a fun and casual setting? If so, we invite you to join our Talk Series Speak Easy. This event will include drinks with appetizers.

    The next Speak Easy event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM. RSVP here.

    Throughout the year, post-doctoral scholars from Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center will have the opportunity to present their innovative research ideas, proposals, or completed projects in a casual setting with other postdocs and members of the Vanderbilt community. The goal of this Speak Easy Talk Series is to not only provide an opportunity for post-doctoral scholars to discuss their science to a broader ‘audience’ including fellow post-doctoral peers but will also provide speakers the opportunity to highlight the amazing scientific discoveries happening all across our campus here at Vanderbilt.

    That is what Speak Easy is all about – having Vanderbilt postdoctoral researchers disseminate their exciting research in a fun atmosphere in a way that anyone who listens can understand.

    Hosted by the Vanderbilt Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) and the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association (VPA), the Speak Easy Talk Series seeks to offer a causal venue for “scientific presentations” that are accessible and digestible to the public through an evening happy hour event at Alumni Hall on Vanderbilt University’s campus. Speak Easy presenters will discuss a variety of topics from biology, neuroscience, mathematics, data science, health-related science, and more.

    Specific Details and Information About the Talk Series:

    Audience: This talk is not like a research conference. For Speak Easy, you will communicate with an audience that are often not experts in your area of research. Be sure that you:

    • Engage them with a “hook” (anecdote, statistic, quote, etc.) that instantly grabs their attention. Avoid jokes or salty language. Ensure you maintain a professional yet casual persona. A great way to grab your audience’s attention is to make your presentation personal in some way.
    • Make sure to define technical terms as early as possible and limit their use to a few main concepts essential to their understanding of your science. Avoid jargon.
    • Omit details of experimental processes that might be objectionable (e.g., invasive procedures on animal subjects). Make sure to explain your methods in a concise and conceptual way- most people will not understand the methods unless they are innovative and interesting (and in that case go for it!). Avoid getting bogged down in the details- if you have trouble describing things in simple terms, people listening to your talk are likely not going to understand and will lose interest.

    Purpose: This is not a scientific presentation at a conference and your goal is not to position your research for publication or funding. Instead, Speak Easy is about telling your scientific story in a way that communicates its value (and Vanderbilt’s) to the public. This is your opportunity to get creative and put on your actor’s hat! Focus on major “take-home messages” (e.g., one to three) and present them in a way that is interesting, fun, and engaging.

    Structure & Length: Your talk should be 10 to 12 minutes (with 3-5 minutes left for questions).  Your presentation SHOULD NOT exceed 15 minutes.  Make sure to practice before arriving to make sure you stay within the allotted time frame. Because this is an informal presentation, we will recommend that you allow audience members to ask questions at any time during the talk.

    Organize your thoughts using these 4 steps:

    1. Focus on a Situation (current negative or unexplained effects on people, populations, places, systems, etc.).
    2. Explain the Problem that may cause, be linked to, or predict the current Situation.
    3. Recommend a potential Solution that you have identified in your research question/hypothesis and method.
    4. Provide a summary of your research that shows implications, i.e. how your findings can improve the situation and lives. You may find it helpful to sketch out or storyboard your talk before you start creating slides.


    Style:
     Prioritize using pictures, videos, and concept images and limit science charts and graphs, unless they are clear and easy to follow. Do not use distressing photos or videos of animals as this may be disturbing to your audience. Try to use only a single image/idea per slide. Depending on the venue, slides may sometimes be displayed on a TV screen rather than projection screen, which means your slides should be readable even when scaled down. Make text a consistent and readable font and size throughout the slide show (minimum of 24 point for readability). Don’t use bells, whistles, sound effects, irrelevant clip art, etc. Include acknowledgements and sources where applicable.

    Examples: It may help to view some TED Talks to discover how leading scientists communicate with the general public. When viewing a TED Talk observe the presentations’ structure, content and delivery. Find other great science talks below:

    Presentations: You can create your own PowerPoint or use a pre-made Vanderbilt University or VUMC PowerPoint. Whatever you choose, get creative and make the presentation visually appealing for your audience!

    Plan to use more visuals instead of text to make the presentation engaging for your audience.

    Practice with and without your slides. Because technical problems may arise, you should be prepared to give your presentation in the event that “technology fails”.

    Delivery of Presentation

    • Arrive at least 15 minutes early, test the equipment, run through your presentation.
    • Bring your slides on a thumb drive (VPA will provide a computer for you on which to open your presentation as well as a wireless slide advancer). Email a copy of your presentation to yourself in case of technical difficulties, etc.
    • Conduct an audience check by looking for familiar faces, presence of children, etc.
    • Pace yourself. Speak up and speak clearly. No rushing, but stick to your time limit.
    • Avoid jargon and slang.
    • Make eye contact and smile. Keep your tone conversational.
    • Relax and have fun!

    Here are some tips for answering questions during and after your talk:

    • Anticipate questions and prepare possible answers.
    • Pause before taking questions at the end of your talk. (Remember that audience members may ask questions during your talk, too.)
    • Direct your responses to the entire audience.
    • If no one asks a question, prompt them with, “Has anyone had experience with…?”
    • Keep answers brief—no unnecessary details. Offer to continue dialogue after the talk.
    • If someone disagrees, don’t appear to be defensive.
    • If you don’t understand the question, ask for clarification.
    • It’s OK to say I don’t know the answer to that question.

    Lastly, HAVE FUN! We hope that Speak Easy will become a Vanderbilt Postdoc tradition to bring postdocs from all around campus and the medical center together to share their ideas and highlight their research in a fun way!  We can’t wait for you to share your amazing discoveries with the Vanderbilt Community!

  • Career Center Programming for Postdocs

    Topics change on a semester-by-semester basis.

    Visit the Career Center website for more information.

  • ASPIRE Postdoc Cafe

    The ASPIRE Postdoc Cafe will feature specific career development or professionalism topics, such as converting your CV into a powerful résumé, networking strategies, writing a winning cover letter, informational interviewing, finding funding for your research, Leveraging LinkedIN, Preparing for a teaching demo, and grant resources at Vanderbilt.  This will be an informal session where conversation and questions are encouraged.  Since this topic will change each meeting, feel free to attend as often as you wish.

    Visit the BRET Office of Career Development website for more information.

  • Ph.D. Career Stories

    PhD Career Storiesis a monthly seminar series about career options for PhD scientists. Speakers from a diverse range of exciting scientific careers present their career path and share insights from their professional experiences. Come hear about the career journey from Vanderbilt Alumni and professionals working in the field, and see if this is a career path that could suit you.

    The series is sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development. For a full schedule visiting the Ph.D. Career Stories website

  • Job Search Series

    Explore topics specific to the job search process.

    These will be an informal session where conversation and questions are encouraged.  Since the topics will change each meeting, feel free to attend as often as you wish.

    The series is sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development. For a full schedule visiting the Job Search Series website.

Postdoc Events

Selected Recordings of Past Events

2022 Postdoc Appreciation Picnic and Fannie Mae Dees Park.
2022 Postdoc Appreciation Picnic and Fannie Mae Dees Park.

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW)

Since 2009, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has sponsored National Postdoc Appreciation Week to recognize the significant contributions that postdocs make to research and discovery. Each year, the OPA curates several events in appreciation of our postdoc community that we hope you will enjoy. This is just one of the many ways we say thanks to our postdocs for their service and vital contributions to Vanderbilt.

Past Postdoc Appreciation Weeks

  • NPAW 2023

    We celebrated National Postdoc Appreciation Week September 18-22, 2023. View the MyVU story about the week long celebration and the recorded video of thanks from Vice Provost André Christie-Mizell here.

    Refreshments & Research Support with the Career Center

    Monday, September 18 | 11:00AM – 1:00PM | Student Life Center, 2nd Floor

    Stop by the Student Life Center and learn more about how the Career Center can help you meet your research goals. You will receive information on various resources and tips available to you as a postdoc through the Career Center, including the ‘Design Your Life’ tools for planning and goal setting. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. No RSVP required, this is a ‘drop-in’ event.

    Group Hike at Radnor Lake

    Monday, September 18 | 5:30PM | Radnor Lake State Park

    Help us kick off National Postdoc Appreciation Week by meeting at the Radnor Lake (West Lot) parking lot for an easy 2.8 mile nature hike around Radnor Lake with your fellow postdocs. Please note that no dogs are allowed on the trail, so leave your furry friends at home! For those who do not have their own transportation, we will be coordinating a carpool to the trailhead from campus and back. More details for those interested in participating in the carpool will be forthcoming. RSVPs are required, regardless if you plan on utilizing the carpool.

    Complimentary Postdoc Headshots

    Tuesday, September 19 | 12:00PM – 5:00PM | Alumni Hall 206

    Photographer Mackenzie LaRoe will be shooting complimentary headshots for the postdoc community. Make an appointment for a new or updated headshot. To pick your preferred time slot, please register here. Note: If there are no more time slots left, you can register for the waitlist here.

    Annual Postdoc Appreciation Picnic

    Tuesday, September 19 | 5:00PM – 7:00PM | Fannie Mae Dees Park

    Postdocs and their families are invited to a picnic at Fannie Mae Dees Park (also known as the “the dragon park”). We look forward to a family-friendly event and seeing you in person! Please RSVP here so we have an accurate count for food; please note any food allergies/restrictions.

    Complimentary Postdoc Headshots

    Wednesday, September 20 | 8:00AM – 1:00PM | Alumni Hall 206

    Photographer Mackenzie LaRoe will be shooting complimentary headshots for the postdoc community. Make an appointment for a new or updated headshot. To pick your preferred time slot, please register here. Note: If there are no more time slots left, you can register for the waitlist here.

    Free Treats at the Women’s Center

    Wednesday, September 20 | 9:30AM – 11:00AM | Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center

    Stop by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center between 9:30am-11am for a free treat from Baby Cakes Bakery! The Women’s Center is located at 2304D Vanderbilt Place, Franklin House.

    Wellness Workshop: Creating Harmony Within Your World

    Wednesday, September 20 | 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Alumni Hall Lounge (Alumni Hall 100)

    Join the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic Success (GPAS) program for a conversation on integrating time and space for self-care and self-reflection within your postdoctoral research. Leave our workshop with tangible strategies on living the life you deserve. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. RSVPs are required.

    Coffee & Catered Breakfast with OPA

    Thursday, September 21 | 9:00AM – 11:00AM | Alumni Hall Lounge (Alumni Hall 100)

    We will be hosting a coffee and catered breakfast from Panera in the Graduate Student Lounge of Alumni Hall on Thursday morning to celebrate all of our new and current postdocs across VU and VUMC. Stop by anytime between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to enjoy some hot coffee and a complimentary breakfast catered by Panera before you get your day started. Space is limited, RSVPs are required.

    VPA ‘SpeakEasy’ Talk Series

    Thursday, September 21 | 5:00PM – 6:30PM | Alumni Hall Lounge (Alumni Hall 100)

    All postdocs are invited to the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association’s (VPA) scientific talk series, the ‘SpeakEasy’! Fellow postdocs will give a 10-minute peer presentation on their research in a fun and more casual setting to help hone those communication and presentation skills. Appetizers and cocktails will be provided. Please RSVP so that we can have an accurate head count for the event if you plan on attending, and if you are interested in sharing your own scientific story, please contact the VPA at postdoc@vanderbilt.edu.

    Chair Massages for Postdocs

    Friday, September 22 | 12:00PM – 2:00PM | Alumni Hall 206

    Take some time to relax with a 15-minute chair massage provided by Revigorate. 

    For the Love of Ice Cream Social

    Friday, September 22 | 3:00PM – 5:00PM | Alumni Hall Terrace

    Join OPA and close out the week playing fun games such as corn hole, bananagrams, code names, and much more with your fellow postdocs while enjoying free ice cream on Alumni Hall Terrace. RSVPs are required, so please register at the link here. We look forward to wrapping up National Postdoc Appreciation Week with you over some sweet treats and games! If there is rain, we will move inside to Alumni Hall Lounge, Suite 100.

  • NPAW 2022

    We celebrated National Postdoc Appreciation Week September 19-23, 2022. View the My VU story and a recorded video of thanks from Vice Provost André Christie-Mizell here.

    Communications surrounding Postdoc Appreciation Week:

    Monday Coffee Stop

    Monday, September 19 | 8:30AM – 10:00AM | Stevenson Center Courtyard

    Come grab a coffee for your morning pick me up! As part of postdoctoral appreciation week, the OPA is sponsoring several morning ‘coffee stops’ for postdocs to enjoy throughout the week before they begin their research or return to the labs. The location for each coffee stop will be different, so stop on by if you’re near Stevenson on Monday!

    Tuesday Coffee Stop with the BRET Office

    Tuesday, September 20 | 8:30AM – 10:00AM | Light Hall – South Entrance

    Come grab a coffee for your morning pick me up! As part of postdoctoral appreciation week, the OPA is sponsoring several morning ‘coffee stops’ for postdocs to enjoy throughout the week before they begin their research or return to the labs. Please join our colleagues in the BRET Office for some free coffee and meet with other postdocs in various areas. The location for each coffee stop will be different, so stop by Light Hall if you’re near the area on Tuesday morning.

    Complimentary Postdoc Headshots

    Tuesday, September 20 | 1:00PM – 5:00PM | Sarratt Center 112

    Photographer Anne Rayner will be shooting complimentary headshots for the postdoc community. Make an appointment for a new or updated headshot. More information here and pick your preferred time slot here. Note: If there are no more time slots left, you can register for the waitlist here.

    Treats at the Women’s Center

    Tuesday, September 20 | 12:00PM – 2:00PM | Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center

    Stop by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center between 12-2pm for a free treat from Dozen Bakery! The Women’s Center is located at 2304D Vanderbilt Place, Franklin House.

    Annual Postdoc Appreciation Picnic

    Tuesday, September 20 | 5:00PM – 7:00PM | Fannie Mae Dees Park

    Postdocs and their families are invited to a picnic at Fannie Mae Dees Park (also known as the “the dragon park”). We look forward to a family-friendly event and seeing you in person! Please RSVP here so we have an accurate count for food; please note any food allergies/restrictions.

    Complimentary Postdoc Headshots

    Wednesday, September 21 | 8:00AM – 12:00PM | Sarratt Center 114

    Photographer Anne Rayner will be shooting complimentary headshots for the postdoc community. Make an appointment for a new or updated headshot. More information here and pick your preferred time slot here. Note: If there are no more time slots left, you can register for the waitlist here.

    Wednesday Coffee Stop with OPA and the Career Center

    Wednesday, September 21 | 8:30AM – 10:00AM | Wyatt Center Lawn (Under Walkway)

    Stop by Wyatt Center on Peabody’s campus between 8:30AM and 10:00Am on Wednesday to meet our OPA Team: OPA Associate Director, Faith Bishop, and OPA Program and Communications Manager, Annie Evans. We will be joined by our colleagues from the Career Center as well. We look forward to visiting with you!

    Destress & Decompress with Graduate and Postdoc Academic Success (GPAS)

    Wednesday, September 21 | 4:00PM – 5:00PM | Alumni Hall Lounge (100)

    Join the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic Success (GPAS) program for some relaxation of the body and mind to help you reset after a long day. There will be tools provided to create de-stressing toys and a meditation session to reset at the end. RSVPs are required.

    Thursday Coffee Stop

    Thursday, September 22 | 8:30AM – 10:00AM | Alumni Hall Terrace

    Stop by the Alumni Hall Terrace for our last coffee stop of the week between 8:30AM and 10:00AM on Thursday.

    VPA ‘SpeakEasy’ Talk Series

    Thursday, September 22 | 5:00PM – 6:30PM | Alumni Hall Lounge (Alumni Hall 100)

    All postdocs are invited to the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association’s (VPA) scientific talk series, the ‘SpeakEasy’! Fellow postdocs will give a 10-minute peer presentation on their research in a fun and more casual setting to help hone those communication and presentation skills. Appetizers and cocktails will be provided. Please RSVP so that we can have an accurate head count for the event if you plan on attending, and if you are interested in sharing your own scientific story, please register here.

    Sweets & Treats

    Friday, September 23 | 3:00PM – 5:00PM | Library Lawn

    Come and enjoy free desserts, games, and to socialize to finish off the week with the OPA team! The event will include various lawn games, free pops by King of Pops, and other sweet treats for our postdocs in appreciation of all you do within the Vanderbilt community!

    For a listing of virtual events through the National Postdoc Association, click here.

  • NPAW 2021

    We celebrated the 12th annual National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) September 20-24. A list of events is below and you can read the MyVU story here.

    Wellness Workshop: Dealing with Change

    Monday, September 20, 12-1pm (Zoom)

    The Work/Life Connections-EAP Postdoc Wellness Program is offering a Workshop on Dealing with Change. Organizational and personal change is an inevitable life stressor which can require an individual to adopt a more open attitude concerning the opportunities that change presents. Change as a stressor is reframed with the responsibility for adaptations being placed upon the individual.

    Complimentary Postdoc Headshots

    Tuesday, September 21, 8am-12pm & Wednesday, September 22, 1:10-6pm (2017B Eskind Biomedical Library)

    Photographer Anne Rayner will be shooting complimentary headshots for the postdoc community. Make an appointment for a new or updated headshot. More information here and pick your preferred time slot here. Note: If there are no more time slots left, we will have a waiting list. Please email opa@vanderbilt.edu with your name, email and phone number to be added.

    Coffee with OPA Leadership and Career Center Coaches

    Thursday, September 23, 10-11am (100 Alumni Hall)

    Stop by 100 Alumni Hall between 10-11am on Thursday to meet our OPA Team: OPA Director, Vice Provost Christie-Mizell, OPA Assistant Director, Faith Bishop, and OPA Program and Communications Manager, Caitlin Haskell. We will be joined by our colleagues from the Career Center: Elizabeth Lambert, Christina Keeton and Kayla Broom. We look forward to visiting with you!

    Free Cupcakes at the Women’s Center

    Friday, September 24, 12-2pm (Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center)

    Stop by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center between 12-2pm for a free cupcake! The Women’s Center is located at 2304D Vanderbilt Place, Franklin House.

    Postdoc Appreciation Picnic

    Wednesday, September 29, 5-7pm (Fannie Mae Dees Park)

    Postdocs and their families are invited to a picnic at Fannie Mae Dees Park (also known as the “the dragon park”)!.We look forward to a family-friendly event and seeing you in person again! Please RSVP here so we have an accurate count for food; please note any food allergies/restrictions. Please note: this event was originally scheduled on 9/21 and due to inclement weather has been rescheduled to take place on Wednesday 9/29.

    NPA Events and Opportunities

    NPA is celebrating  with an NPA member-driven, multi-institutional virtual collaboration again thanks to the success of this initiative in 2020.

    “I am a Postdoc.” The NPAW Steering Committee, led by the NPA and dedicated volunteers from NPA member institutions, is planning three national events around the theme, “I am a Postdoc.” This effort is intended to give definition to the role of the postdoc “at the bench and beyond,” uniting postdocs and recognizing their successes.

    “What’s a postdoc?” You probably hear that question on far too regular a basis. The NPA needs your help in its efforts to increase understanding of the often unrecognized and misunderstood role of postdocs. We can’t do this alone. Here’s how you can help. We need current and former postdocs to submit short (1 min or less) videos to be used as part of NPAW and beyond to emphasize the diversity of work and interests of postdocs in the United States and the many careers they pursue post-postdoc. Spread this message to your peers and friends who are current or former postdocs as well. This request continues on the theme of “I am a Postdoc” that the  started in 2019. 

    View the National Postdoctoral Association schedule of events here.

  • NPAW 2020

    We celebrated National Postdoc Appreciation Week September 21-25, 2020. Several members of Vanderbilt’s leadership team who work closely with postdoctoral fellows recorded a video message of thanks, highlighting postdocs’ service and vital contributions to the university. In collaboration with the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association (VPA), OPA curated a roster of events in celebration of the Vanderbilt postdoc community. Events included complimentary headshot sessions, a virtual mindfulness session led by the Work/Life Connections – EAP Postdoc Wellness Program and a Postdoc Happy Hour. Read more here.