2016-2017 YPA Year-End Summary and Thanks

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hello Yale Postdocs!

As the Yale Postdoctoral Association (YPA) starts our new academic year this July, we want to thank all of you for helping us make this past year so successful and offer a recap of the notable events from the past year. This was the second year of the YPA, and we accomplished a lot. We expanded the number of our events, had many more postdocs participating, and made structural changes to our organization to set ourselves up for many more great years ahead.

First of all, we coalesced the YPA into a more defined organizational structure with distinct subcommittees (Networking, Professional Development, and Advocacy) headed by two coordinators. It is our hope that the presence of two coordinators, who will be appointed on a rotating bi-annual basis, will allow for a maintenance of institutional knowledge within the organization, and the growth of robust subcommittees will provide for the development of future leaders for the YPA. These changes were codified into our amended by-laws, in addition to a revamp to our mission statement, in order to provide for guidance moving forward into the future.

The YPA also made significant strides in establishing a vibrant online presence with the further evolution of our website (including a NEW page with helpful resources for postdocs) and our Facebook group.  This year the YPA also initiated a monthly newsletter to inform the postdoc community of events that we think will be of interest to them. Special thanks in these efforts go to Dragomir Milovanovic, who developed our newsletter and also made significant strides in outreach to the broader Yale community, including the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA), Mory’s, and the Rivendell Institute, and to Jianyu ‘Daniel’ Wu, who was instrumental in maintaining both the website and the Facebook group.

Our Professional Development subcommittee started two new major initiatives this past year with the Postdoc Orientation 201 and the Postdoc Career Café. Postdoc Orientation 201 was a natural extension from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs’ (OPA) new postdoc orientation and provided postdocs a unique opportunity to hear from various Yale offices, libraries, and cores about resources and services that may enhance and assist their research. The Postdoc Career Cafés were developed to try to provide postdocs with a chance to learn about topics that may be relevant to their present and future careers, such as general grantsmanship, the grant review process, and careers in biotech, in a relaxed and open setting. Kristen Murfin and Mahdis Shayan were both key to developing these programs, and many others including Alex Jourdon, Burak Dura, Nadia Ayala-Lopez, and Zahra Rattray helped tremendously.  

This year our Networking subcommittee hosted numerous events both on and off campus to foster connection between postdocs across disciplines at Yale University. These events included monthly happy hours, a visit to the Yale Club of New York, a tour of the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, a Pumpkin Picking event at Bishop’s Orchard, a tour of the PEZ factory, a trip to Gouveia Vineyards, and an end of the year picnic. We also held a food drive in which we collected over 40 pounds of food for our local community. Special thanks for coordination of these events goes to Sandra Martinez-Morilla, Judit Jimenez Sainz, and Esra Karaca.  Additional thanks for support facilitating these events goes to Christoph Zimmer and Qianni ‘Jenny’ Cheng.

This year, the YPA recognized a need to be a force for positive change in our postdoc community, and to that end we initiated an Advocacy subcommittee. This group is charged with recognizing and working towards establishing mechanisms to meet the needs of postdocs at Yale. In order to do this effectively, they are working on generating data on the demographic makeup of postdocs and organizing a town hall where postdocs can communicate with leadership at Yale. Ni ‘Jenny’ Feng and Courtney Frederick were a big part of the inspiration to begin this subcommittee, and Sam Doroodgar Joshery is taking the lead on the collection of demographic data. We really appreciate their hard work to get this group off the ground.

As the co-chairs of the YPA, we got the great opportunity to attend the National Postdoctoral Association meeting this spring, and gathered a lot of interesting information about what other postdoc associations and offices across the country are doing to serve their postdoc communities. We also learned of national resources that Yale postdocs can take advantage of and were able to share all of this information with the Yale postdoc community. In addition, we presented a poster focused on our new Postdoc Orientation 201 initiative that was very well received.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, John Alvaro and Grace Lyall, who have been a ready and willing source of support for our projects.  Additionally, Kim Goff-Crews, Secretary and VP of Student Life, and representatives from the CTL, OCS, and OISS were a big part of our success the past year. Overall, the YPA had an incredible year of growth, evolution, and engagement with the Yale postdoc community that we were so excited and proud to be a part of. Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t thank the entire Yale postdoc community for your participation and support, and we look forward to seeing how the YPA continues to grow and become a force for postdocs at Yale in the upcoming academic year!

-Katherine Hastings and Andrew Hastings, YPA Co-Chairs 2016-2017