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The 14th Annual VPA Symposium

The 14th Annual VPA Symposium occurred October 29th, 2020. Thanks so much to Dr. Chad Topaz, everyone who presented, everyone who attended, and everyone who helped make this event possible!

Congratulations to our Lightning Talk Winners Inga Saknite and Stephanie Moore-Lotridge!

Congratulations to our Poster Winners Jessica Thomas, Andrew Patterson, Tomas Rush, and  Kakali Ghoshal!

The Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association (VPA) is excited to announce that the 14th  Annual VPA Symposium will be held virtually on Thursday, October 29th! We are proud to be sponsored by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities consortium! 

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This interdisciplinary one-day conference will highlight postdoctoral research as well as provide a virtual venue for networking and professional development. We are proud to announce our Keynote Speaker, Chad  Topaz , Professor of Mathematics, Williams College, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Research, Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity!

Postdocs will have the opportunity to present their research through either a lightning talk (brief oral presentation) or a poster presentation. Best presenters in both categories will receive prizes (e.g., gift cards, travel award, etc.) to be presented at the closing event. All attendees will also be eligible to receive raffle prizes throughout the day!

Abstract submissions are now open and will close on Friday, October 2 nd   at noon CDT.

To attend the event, please register here:

The registration survey is set to close at 11:59pm on Thursday, October 22nd.

Events will be held through Zoom and Gather.

Keynote: Quantitative Approaches to Social Justice

Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics, Williams College, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Research, Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

Civil rights leader, educator, and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells said that "the way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them." In this talk, I demonstrate how quantitative and computational approaches can shine a light on social injustices and help build solutions to remedy them. One project uses data science tools to study gender representation on mathematics journal editorial boards, finding that of 13,000 editorial positions studied, a mere 8.9% are held by women. A second project is constitutes a large scale study of gender and ethnic representation amongst artists whose works are held in the collections of major U.S. museums. We estimate that 85% of these artists are white and 87% are men. We find that the relationship between museum collection mission and artist diversity is weak, suggesting that a museum wishing to increase diversity might do so without changing its emphases on specific time periods and regions. Finally, I will mention other quantitative social justice projects underway in the realms of criminal justice, music, education, and more.

Schedule of Events (Central Time):

10:00-12:00 Poster Session

12:30-1:30 Keynote Seminar

1:30-2:00 BRET Office Career Advising Session

2:00-3:00 Science Advocacy & Policy Discussion: held in conjunction with the VU and VUMC Office of Federal Relations "VU in DC" event. Separate registration required.

3:15-4:15 Lightning Talks

4:30-6:00 Closing Ceremony w/ Prizes, Virtual Professional and Community Networking

Congratulations to our Poster Winners Kakali Ghoshal, Tomas Rush, Andrew Patterson, and Jessica Thomas!

Congratulations to our Lightning Talk Winners Stephanie Moore-Lotridge and Inga Saknite!


Symposia websites from previous years: 2019 2017