Inaugural Postdoctoral Research Showcase Symposium

By Hillary Stires, PhD
T32 Tumor Biology Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Oncology

The Georgetown University Postdoctoral Association (GUPDA) hosted the first annual Postdoc Research Showcase during the morning of April 23, 2018. This spring symposium is the first postdoc-focused research event at Georgetown. Main campus and medical center postdocs showcased their hard work through oral and poster presentations.

Showcase Prologue: The Need for a GU Postdoctoral Association

When I came to Georgetown in May 2016, I was surprised that there was not a postdoctoral association (PDA) on campus since there are approximately 120 postdocs spanning the Medical and Main campuses. A PDA provides a community for postdocs during a transient, unpredictable, and often isolating period of their careers. In January of 2017, I asked around and pulled together a series of e-mail lists, leading to a handful of postdocs attending monthly meetings. We worked together to establish our goals and general structure during the Spring of 2017. Then we formally launched our group in September 2017 at a launch party during Post Doc Appreciation Week.

The mission of the GUPDA is to enhance the quality of the postdoctoral experience by providing a formalized peer support network for Georgetown postdoctoral fellows. The group aims to prepare postdocs for the next steps of their careers through networking, professional branding, and mastering skills necessary to search for and obtain a job. To meet this mission, GUPDA has three committees: the workshop committee, the mentorship and outreach committee, and the symposium committee. The workshop committee puts on monthly career development workshops with topics that span grant writing, social media communication, and CV editing to name a few. To mirror our November workshop “How to Get a Faculty Position”, the mentorship committee organized a “How to Get a Postdoc Event” co-sponsored with the MCGSO. Other peer mentoring initiatives include grant reviewing and poster judging for MCGSO events. To improve camaraderie, we organize bi-monthly happy hours at Epicurean and we network outside of Georgetown at quarterly networking events with postdocs from all over the DMV including: George Washington University, NIH, NASA, NIST, FDA, and others.

The Research Showcase

The Postdoc Research Showcase was the culminating event of the academic year to highlight the amazing research conducted by postdocs from Main and Medical campuses. Georgetown faculty, staff, students, and postdocs attended to learn about the breadth of postdoctoral research and to promote interdisciplinary interactions. The event commenced in the NRB auditorium with an introduction by Dr. Barbara Bayer, Senior Associate Dean of Biomedical Graduate Education (BGE). Dr. Caleb McKinney, the newly appointed BGE Assistant Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Training and Development introduced the new BGE Office of Postdoctoral Development. Then, fellow GUPDA co-chairs, Dr. Anna Matejko and Dr. Emily Andre joined me in introducing the exciting initiatives that we have spearheaded in GUPDA throughout the past year.

GUPDA Symposium Chair, Dr. Daphne Guinn, moderated an oral presentation session of multidisciplinary talks. Our speakers were Dr. Ivana Peran from the Oncology Department, Dr. Ewa Krzyszczyk from the Biology Department, and Dr. Bevan Main from the Neuroscience Department. The talks spanned a variety of topics, which only began to demonstrate the broad range of research at Georgetown. Topics included potential drug targets for pancreatic cancer, development in juvenile bottlenose dolphins, and molecules that modulate traumatic brain injury. We concluded the event with a poster session that included over 15 posters from Georgetown Postdocs. The bustling of multidisciplinary scientific exchange occurring down hallway C in preclinical science emphasized how integral postdocs are to the scientific community at Georgetown. This event was the first of its kind – not only was it focused exclusively on postdocs, but postdocs also organized it.

To get involved with the Georgetown University Postdoctoral Association, stay in the know by visiting the GUPDA website!

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