Mental Health Awareness Month Is a Good Time to Check In With Yourself

In today’s fast-paced, action-packed world, it can be hard to keep up with awareness days, weeks, or months. It seems there is a day, week or month for just about everything. While this can seem overwhelming, these designated times of awareness are good opportunities to reflect on the theme du jour and how it might apply to us.

May is Mental Health Month and as such, it is a perfect time to take a moment and reflect on ourselves and each other. Naturejobs Blog contributor Jack Leemy captured tips from psychologist Karra Harrington in a recent post. While the target audience is graduate students, the piece provides advice applicable to all. I encourage you to give it a quick read.

In particular, Ms. Harrington advises investing in a support network, seeking out peer and mentor relationships and finding out what resources are available to you and how to find them. These are all good points.

Look around. Who counts as your support network?  With whom have you developed relationships? Who are your trusted friends and mentors? Are you a part of someone else’s support network? Who are your peers, who might be able to speak to your experiences?

One way to expand your network is to get involved in one of the many  employee resource groups (ERG) at Argonne. You can find links to Women in Science and Technology Program (WIST), the Argonne African American (AAA) ERG, Spectrum, Chinese Association at Argonne and the Hispanic-Latino Club at the Leadership Institute’s Diversity and Inclusion page. Also, there is a new group for early career employees that is just getting up and running. As the Postdoctoral Program Lead, I am also here as a resource for postdocs, mentors and supervisors who might need some guidance on where to find resources.

Remember, too, that the lab provides the Employee Assistance Program as a benefit to all employees. The program is provided by Perspectives, Ltd., and provides a host of resources, self-directed learning opportunities, in addition to help connecting with a professional. The wellness app, Virgin Pulse, is another avenue to explore maintaining a healthy mindset and learn strategies for managing stress and being resilient.

Ms. Harrington ends her post by advising readers to ask for help and ask early. Connect with a colleague, forge a mentoring relationship, talk to a peer. Remember, we are all in this together.




Workshop focuses on effective negotiation

As part of its Postdoctoral Development Series, the Leadership Institute will present “The Art of Effective Negotiation” from 9 a.m. to noon, on Friday, May 19, in the Building 446 Auditorium (behind the APS).

Light refreshments will be served. Register at

Because of the interactive nature of this workshop, space is limited. Seats will be filled in order of registration.

Negotiations occur every day in the scientific laboratory and workplace and often involve issues that are key to research success and career advancement. This workshop teaches the fundamentals of negotiation relevant to a variety of one-on-one conversations and group settings.

Adapted from the workshop “The Art of Effective Negotiation” by the Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists (COACh), topics covered include: the importance of negotiation to advance research and career objectives; identification of negotiables including start-up packages, space, authorship, supplies, etc.; necessary elements of a successful negotiation; the importance of developing alternatives to an agreement; understanding your negotiation style; the importance of listening and appreciating different viewpoints and identification of short and long-term negotiation goals.

This workshop is intended to be interactive, with a combination of lecture, large and small group discussion and small group activities. Participants will practice the concepts covered and will be provided the opportunity to “coach” each other.

Workshop Facilitators are Lydia Finney, Ph.D., University Partnerships Program Manager, Argonne Leadership Institute and Program Initiator with the Argonne Women in Science and Technology Program. Finney is a physicist with more than 10 years of experience in scientific research at Argonne. Her areas of technical expertise include chemical biology, bio-inorganic chemistry, X-ray fluorescence microscopy and metals.

Tina Henne, Ph.D., is the Postdoctoral Program Lead with the Argonne Leadership Institute. Henne came to Argonne in 2009 as a Postdoctoral Appointee in the Biosciences Division and then became the Postdoctoral Program Lead in 2011. Her technical expertise includes microbiology, molecular genetics and protein expression profiling.

Finney and Henne are part of the COACh-the-COAChes program with COACh and have participated in the COACh Art of Effective Negotiations Workshop prior to becoming workshop facilitators.

This workshop is aligned with the National Postdoctoral Association recommended Core Competency III, Communication Skills.



Argonne postdocs participate in inaugural science policy trek

Argonne postdoctoral appointees Lee Solomon (NST), Yasaman Ghadar (LCF) and Giovanni Ramirez (ES) were part of a group of nine postdoctoral scholars and graduate students from the laboratory and the University of Chicago that participated in the inaugural Science Policy Trek to Washington DC this past fall.

The goal of the three-day trek was for participants to learn about policy positions in a variety of agencies and non-governmental organizations, the importance of networking, and job opportunities.

The schedule was packed with visits to the Environmental Defense Fund, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), University of Chicago Office of Federal Relations, the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education of the House Science Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of State, National Institutes of Health, The National Academies, and National Science Foundation. The group also met with staff members from the offices of U.S. Representatives Bill Foster and Dan Lipinski.

Networking with fellows and staff members at each location allowed the group to learn about life in Washington DC and the culture of each agency. “The most eye opening part of the experience was how different each agency and group was,” said Solomon. “There were so many ways to contribute.” “Participating in this trek made me a better scientist. I know how to promote my research and how to write successful grant,” said Ghadar.

A big take away for the group was the importance of networking to help scientists build their careers. Cultivating scientific contacts across the nation can help to alert scientists to potential projects and opportunities they might not otherwise know about.

“We learned a lot about a new field, which gets very little coverage in a typical scientist’s career and for that reason alone I would recommend other postdocs participate in this program if they have the chance,” Solomon said.

The Science Policy trek program was funded by the Argonne Leadership Institute and was a partnership between the Postdoctoral Program of Argonne and the MyChoice program of University of Chicago.

Caption: Postdocs and graduate students from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory pose for a group photo at the National Academy of Sciences. Argonne postdocs include Yasaman Ghadar, LCF (front row, 2nd from left), Lee Solomon, NST (back row, 2nd from left) and Giovanni Ramirez, ES (back row 3rd from left).


Postdoc career lunch

A two-part workshop, “Job Seeker Skills for the Private Sector” and “Career Path to RA Capital Management,” will be held on Tuesday, April 25, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 402 Lower Level Gallery. Lunch is included.

Presented by RA Capital Management and hosted by Argonne’s Leadership Institute, the workshop will cover job seeker strategies in the private sector and provide an introduction to RA Capital’s career paths and how scientists fit into their business model.

Postdoctoral researchers, fellows and graduate students are welcome to attend. In addition, mentors and supervisors who seek to improve their skills in advising mentees on job search and career exploration are invited to attend.

Workshop schedule

  • 11 a.m. – noon, Job Seeker Skills for the Private Sector
  • noon – 12:30 p.m., lunch and informal networking
  • 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Career Path to RA Capital Management and Overview of our Scientific Approach to Investing

Register here.

For more information, contact Tina Henne,


Project management topic of interactive workshop

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne will host the workshop Interactive Project Management Fundamentals on Monday, April 10, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., in Bldg. 240/TCS Conference Center, rooms 1404-1407. Light refreshments will be served. If needed, a second session will be added from 1p.m. – 4 p.m.

Project management has broad applicability across several different industries, everything from building houses to software. If you’ve ever had a need to figure out how to get from here to there, and haven’t felt confident on how to do it, then project management fundamentals can help.  Learn the essentials of the discipline in this interactive workshop, and come away with the basic guidance you need to get it done efficiently, effectively, and at minimal cost.

The course will be facilitated by Arin Komins, a seasoned IT manager with over 21 years in IT, with experience in managing IT applications and infrastructure, from on-premises to the cloud. She has worked in healthcare and higher education, as well as consulted for the financial and energy sectors.  Over her time in IT, she has managed everything from machines to people, and recently has been specializing in moving on premises solutions to the cloud.  She has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI), has done project management methodology development, built PM systems, and has certificates in project management strategy and advanced project management.

This workshop is aligned with the National Postdoctoral Association recommended Core Competency V, Leadership and Management Skills.

This event is interactive and requires group participation. Please be cognizant of this when registering. The instructor will need an accurate count of those with strong intent to attend to plan workshop materials accordingly.

Click here to register.

Space is limited. Seats will be filled in order of registration.