Celebrate National Postdoc Appreciation Week!

Postdoc Day

I am pleased to announce that, for the second consecutive year, Carnegie Science is celebrating National Postdoc Appreciation Week through the 23rd.  As part of the festivities, I am giving a talk today, September 21, titled “How to Give a Good Talk: Finding and Keeping a Job” to our postdoctoral fellows. Other festivities are planned at the individual departments.

After Matthew Scott's lecture, postdocs enjoyed a spread of cakes and coffee in celebration of the 2016 National Postdoc Appreciation Week at Carnegie Institution of Washington. Photo by Janice Dunlap, DTM.

Since the last year’s celebration, we have made substantial progress in promoting, supporting, and encouraging our postdocs in the work that they do to advance Carnegie Science and to advance their own careers. 

Perhaps the most important milestone is the establishment of the Carnegie Institution Postdoctoral Association, initiated by the postdocs themselves. In the last year, the postdocs in every department have formed a postdoc “chapter.” This group provides a forum to develop social and networking opportunities, to work with the administration to optimize the postdoctoral experience, to enhance professional and career development, and more.

Richard Carlson and George Cody kick off the Postdoc Pictionary Party at Carnegie's Broad Branch Road Campus on Friday, September 23, 2016, in celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Photo by Janice Dunlap, DTM.

To encourage the out-of-the-box science that Carnegie is known for, we also established the Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Awards. Under this program, one postdoc is honored every quarter for their extraordinary accomplishments. These nominations are made through the department directors, and the recipients are chosen by the Office of the President. The award recipient is given a prize of $1000, and is the guest of honor at a departmental gathering where all the postdocs enjoy some celebratory pies! This year we awarded the first three to Matt Sieber of Embryology, Rebecca Albright (now at the California Academy of Sciences),and Johanna Teske, of Terrestrial Magnetism and now the Observatories. They are all a true testament to Andrew Carnegie’s original vision of supporting individuals who pursue particularly imaginative work. 

DTM postdoctoral fellow Hélène Le Mével draws a picture of the "Greenhouse Effect" during her turn at Pictionary. Photo by Robin Dienel, DTM.

In addition to these recognitions, postdocs are also encouraged to collaborate with senior scientists on another new program we initiated over the last year—the Carnegie Science Venture grants. These are internal awards of up to $100,000 to foster entirely new directions of research by teams that ignore departmental boundaries. Up to six grants may be funded each year. There are a number of postdocs on these teams, including several in Yixian Zheng’s lab and one joining the Ehrhardt lab in December. Others include research associates Rebecca Albright (now at the California Academy of Sciences) and Robin Martin of Global Ecology, Zehra Nizami of Embryology, Stephen Elardo of the Geophysical Lab, Sergio Dieterich and Johanna Teske, now at the Observatories.

Another year, another Postdoc Appreciation Week celebration! Photo by Robin Dienel, DTM.

Carnegie postdocs are absolutely essential to keeping us at the forefront of discovery. I hope that these new initiatives further enrich your Carnegie experience. I also hope that they help proliferate the “Carnegie way” of innovative science when you move on in your careers to some of the most prestigious institutions all over the world. 

Thank you all for your hard work and dedication!

A video of Matthew Scott's lecture, titled "How to Give a Good Talk: Finding and Keeping a Job."

Written by Matthew Scott
Carnegie Science Press Release, September 21, 2016

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