Postdocs Focus on Careers in Return to In-Person Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) held the Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium on October 26th, 2022.  This in-person event had a great turnout where 173 postdoctoral researchers registered to attend the event.  Additionally, 62 postdoctoral researchers from 12 divisions presented their research via poster presentations.

The symposium highlighted research performed at Argonne as well as at partnering institutions. The symposium also allowed participants to network with representatives from industry and research institutions, giving them the opportunity to understand different career paths and engage in long-lasting professional relationships.

Symposium Chair David Lenz opened the event, and the welcome remarks were given by Laboratory Director Paul K. Kearns. Kearns relayed to the postdoctoral participants how important they are to the Argonne community and our ability to make pivotal discoveries, pursue pioneering leadership and advance science at scale. He emphasized to the postdocs that their success is our success and encouraged them to focus on their careers and all the ways they can apply their skills.

The Keynote Speaker this year was             Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, the Director of the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Berhe provided an overview of the DOE Office of Science research priorities and facilities before discussing her career journey. She shared her “recipe for success in the scientific workforce and beyond” in the form of two equations: Success = GRIT, where GRIT = Passion + Persistence, before refining it to Success = (GRIT)*Luck. Dr. Berhe emphasized the importance of building a mentor network, including both experienced and peer mentors. The talk ended with advice for early career researchers before a lively question and answer period covering topics in creating an inclusive environment in STEM, communication as technical experts, and career opportunities in public service.

Postdocs had the chance to interact and network during a working lunch with 14 different companies and national labs: Allstate, Aramco Services Company, Argonne National Lab, ASM, Braskem Americas, Chain Reaction Innovations, Corning Inc., Exponent, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nalco Water, NanoGraf Corporation, NuMat Technologies, Pivot Bio, and Volexion.

A hybrid career panel featured some Argonne alumni working in DOE/National Labs, “traditional” academia/industry R&D, and “nontraditional” PhD level science careers. Career panelists were:

  • Lucy Zhang, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and National Science Foundation
  • Caroline Chick Jarrold, Indiana University
  • Hrant Hratchian, University of California, Merced
  • Shalaka Shinde, Pivot Bio
  • Nigel Becknell, Nanograf

The panel focused on diverse career paths and how to navigate through challenges and instability as postdoctoral researchers. The panelists shared their experience in developing life and career strategies, the hiring process for academic institutions with an emphasis on researching the institution for academic job applications, as well as the necessity for an open mindset and short-term goals while traversing and planning the career path. All the panelists discussed the importance of a high-quality professional network and how their network helped shaped their career paths, whether for asking for reference or hearing about job positions via word-of-mouth. One of the key takeaway messages during this diverse career panel was to “understand your passion and talent while developing strategies to work toward your desire career path.” In addition to career development strategies, several panelists emphasized that it is necessary to speak up and stand up during difficult situations to build a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Poster presentations at the symposium gave participants the opportunity to showcase their research to a broad audience and provided an opportunity to practice valuable communication skills. Presentations were judged for overall appearance and quality, topic organization, and clarity.

Additionally, the question answer (Q&A) component of presentation was evaluated based on the presenter’s expressed knowledgeability and communication skills. This year, seven individuals were selected to receive awards for outstanding presentations. The works also demonstrate the wide diversity of research conducted by Argonne postdocs and visiting postdocs/graduate students:

  • Frederick Agyapong-Fordjour, MSD Materials Science Division, Substitutional Vanadium Sulfide Nanodispersed in MoS2 Film for Pt-scalable Catalyst
  • Colin Banyon, CSE Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Temperature Measurements in Heavily-Sooting Ethylene/Air Flames Using Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence of Krypton
  • Cailin Buchanan, MSD Materials Science Division, Unveiling the Cerium(III)/(IV) Structures and Charge Transfer Mechanism in Sulfuric Acid
  • Sungjoon Kim, HEP High Energy Physics, Thin Film Particle Detectors for High Energy Physics Applications
  • Akash Jain, MSD Materials Science Division, Design of Naturally Occurring Organic redox-active Materials for Nonaqueous Redox Flow Batteries from Active Learning
  • Joshua Paul, NST Nanoscience & Technology, Ingrained: Automated Tool for Merging Atomic-Scale Theory and Experiment
  • Derrick Poe, CSE Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Modeling Deep Eutectic Solvents: Linking Macroscopic Behavior and Molecular Level Features

With this being the first in-person symposium since 2019, with some activities offered in hybrid format, we encouraged participation through special raffle drawings. Postdocs were encouraged to network with several companies and poster presenters through a Networking Bingo, sign up for the Company Networking Lunch, and join hybrid events online. Prizes went to:

  • Davis Unruh, NST Nanoscience & Technology
  • Joshua Christopher, TPS Multi-Physics Computations
  • Xinxin Li, NST Nanoscience & Technology
  • Diego Bestel, TPS Multi-Physics Computations
  • Chiara Bissolotti, HEP High Energy Physics

The Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and participating companies.  Postdoc volunteers who served on the 2022 committee included: The Speakers and Panels lead Clair Chang and her team Progna Banerjee, Anirban Chandra, Hassan Harb, and Kaushik Velusamy. The Technical Program lead Barnali Chowdhury and his team Pawan Chaugule, Mark Du, Hassan Harb, Jessica Jones, Niklas Thompson, and Xiaodong Yu. The Marketing lead Leslie Rogers and her team Adam Fouda, John Klein, and Shiba Adhikari. The Company Networking lead Katie McCullough and her team Andrew Erwin and Jiayi Xu. The Community Engagement lead Tyra Douglas and her team Chiara Bissolotti, Seung Eun Lee, and Farhad Masum.

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne issues a call for volunteers in the months leading up to the symposium starting in March/April. All postdocs interested in planning next year’s event are encouraged to contact their PSA officers.



National Postdoc Appreciation Week 2022 Activities

Did you know there are around 70,000 postdocs nationwide? Postdocs at Argonne and across the nation celebrate National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW)! Join the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) as we host and share several events during NPAW 2022.

This year we are excited to present the following events –

  • Monday (09/19):
    • 4:00PM-5:00 PM: The PSA present: “Services Available to Postdocs at ANL”
    • 5:00PM-6:00 PM: Personal professional development session (work on what you like! LinkedIn Learning course, research statements, CV etc.)
    • Both events will be hybrid: Microsoft teams and building 201 room 346 (sign-up sheet for in-person attendance)
  • Tuesday (09/20):
    • 2:00PM-3:00 PM: Career Panel: “Transitioning from PhD to Postdoc and From Postdoc to Staff Scientist”
      • Panelists: Argonne Staff Scientists
        Thomas Gage (CNM), Phay Ho (CSE), Zachary Hood (AMD), Tanwi Mallick (MCS), Mark Wolfman (XSD)
    • The event will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams
  • Wednesday (09/21):
    • 2:00PM-3:00 PM: First session of a pilot proposal writing workshop (organized by Tina Henne)
      • Fully booked, join the waiting list
  • Thursday (09/22):
    • 9:30AM-10:30 AM: “Immigration Services Overview” by Michelle Leisten, new IS Lead
      • Event will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams
  • Friday (09/23):
    • 12:30 PM-01:30 PM: PSA Forum on: “Challenges Adjusting to the Argonne Postdoc Role”
      • Open discussion on issues with understanding and meeting the expectations of being an Argonne postdoc/scholar

This year’s activities included professional headshot photo sessions from Argonne Creative Services. 4 session are running on 10:00am:12:00pm on 9/7, 9/9, 9/14 and 9/23. Places are fully booked, if you can’t make you session, please let us know we can try fill the space! Contact [email protected] to join the waiting list or cancel your booking.

Results of PSA Special Election

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne is pleased to announce the results for the PSA Special Election for Vice President and Social Liaison, on behalf of the PSA Board. Congratulations to our newly elected officers-

  • Vice President: Joshua Christopher (ES)
  • Social Liaison: Claire Chang (CSE)

The elected officers will assume their respective roles immediately and serve until the next general elections in December 2022. Thanks to everyone who participate in these special elections, and we hope for your continued support in upcoming PSA activities.

Cast your vote for the PSA Special Election!

The voting has started for the Special PSA election for Vice President and Social Liaison. You can cast your link using this link ( until 6th of June, 11.45 PM. To prevent casting multiple votes you need to sign in with your organization, however, your information is not recorded. Thank you all in advance for participating in the election!

You can find the short bios of our candidates below.

Vice President

  • Progna Banerjee
    Progna Banerjee is currently a NST division-center postdoctoral appointee at Argonne National Laboratory, working on the experimental materials chemistry and physics aspects in high-throughout nanomaterial synthesis aided by AI/ML theory collaborations. She formed and lead the 2015-2017 Dean’s Graduate advisory sub-committee on mentoring at her doctoral institute UIUC, volunteered for panelist and judge services in several Universities and currently through the Argonne Educational outreach office. She was chosen as the TECHWOMEN mentor in 2019 and 2021 through the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and she advised female emerging tech leaders in STEM who were chosen from a global pool to participate in this program and advance as tech leaders. Her work in post-synthetic ion exchange induced design of emergent physicochemical properties in nanomaterials has garnered international recognition (2022 CAS Future Leaders) and numerous national (India, US) awards and fellowships throughout the years.
  • Sixbert P. Muhoza
    Sixbert Muhoza was born and raised in Rwanda. Obtained his BS in Chemistry at Belhaven University (Jackson, MS) and PhD in Materials Chemistry at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC). Currently, a Postdoctoral Appointee at ANL and envisions using his ANL training to grow into a scientist who develops solutions to society’s most pressing challenges. Passionate about advancing green energy-related technologies and envisions empowering Rwandan STEM students and professionals to develop high-quality research, technologies, and products so to
    strengthen the manufacturing industry there. Likes sports, comedy, and booze.
  • Joshua Christopher
    I joined Argonne as a Postdoc in December of 2021, and have had the pleasure of meeting many of you at the various PSA events. I want to ensure that the PSA continues to provide the support you need during your time as a postdoc at Argonne, from providing a support group to new members of our community, to assisting with the transition to a career. My primary interests within PSA are to create networking and collaboration opportunities for you and ensure that the PSA supports your career development through workshops, seminars, and connections with employers. Lastly, a big concern I have heard from several postdocs is in the visa policies of Argonne. To remedy this, I would like to see Argonne extend its support to postdocs with applying for and obtaining the visas they need to visit their families abroad and re-enter the United States.
  • Pawan Chaugule
    I joined Argonne as a postdoc in January 2022. Prior to joining I graduated in December 2021 from Texas A&M University with a doctoral degree in Aerospace Engineering. During my graduate studies, I have been a teaching assistant for a couple of years which has been an experience in responsibility and leadership. Whereas in my undergrad program, I had taken up positions of responsibility while organizing cultural and technical festivals. On joining Argonne, and getting in touch with the President and members of the PSA, I have attended a PSA Board meeting, an immigration help session, and social meets, and realized the ways in which PSA helps out postdocs all over the lab. Getting involved with the PSA members and other postdocs has been one of the most fun parts of my experience at Argonne. Hence, I intend to continue being involved and supporting the duties and activities of the group by nominating myself for the post of Vice President of the PSA. I intend to commit to the position by regularly attending the PSA meetings, contributing my time, ideas, and opinions to the ongoing tasks, helping the President and Secretary with their duties, and interacting with postdocs whenever I get the opportunity.

Social Liaison

  • Claire Chang
    I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Chemical Science and Engineering Division. My research focuses on fundamental mechanisms for solar energy conversion in photosynthesis and biohybrid complexes for solar driven fuel production. I received my PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Illinois at Chicago, working on crosstalk between transmembrane proteins and inflammation-related diseases. As your social liaison, I will be dedicated to help our postdoctoral community navigate career and life choices. I will organize career networking events and bring in past postdocs to share their insight and experience. Also, it is important to improve communication skills, overcome language barriers, and encourage collaboration. Therefore, we will support each other through regular communication workshops and social gatherings. While I was an ORISE research fellow at the FDA, I was in a social committee and organized several events with 50-100 attendees. I am ready to bring my experience to serve the PSA.
  • Sydney Lavan
    Hi PSA Team! My name is Sydney Lavan. I am a postdoctoral appointee in the MSD/JCESR division under Dr. Justin Connell. I am excited about these openings/opportunities to join the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne. I am specifically interested in the Social Liaison position. I have a tremendous passion for science, and connecting/socializing with others. In my everyday life I take value in providing a space for others to be heard and seen. This has allowed me to develop phenomenal relationships throughout my entire life. I also was a student athlete growing up and played soccer in college as well. This has well-rounded me not just in the science community but personally as well. I have gained leadership skills, communication skills, time-management skills, team skills, social skills etc. This opportunity is of high interest to me and I would love to be a part of the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne Team!
  • Tyra Douglas
    My research as Postdoctoral Appointee in the X-ray Science Division focuses on developing methods to analyze high-temperature reaction kinetics at beamline 11-ID-C at the Advanced Photon Source. I received my Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Alabama, where I investigated connections between structural and electronic properties of inorganic compounds. During this time, I served as the President and Secretary of the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization and Vice President of the Student Chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. Experiences throughout my career have shown that proactive reach out to the community, and the provision of social support are vital for success in STEM. Currently, I am leading the Community Engagement Committee for the 2022 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium. As PSA Social Liaison, I would use the knowledge gained from these experiences to organize social events to foster community engagement among our diverse postdocs.

2022 Postdoc Symposium : Call for Volunteers

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) holds a Postdoctoral Symposium every year. The 2022 Symposium will be held in November. This is a great opportunity to share your research with your fellow postdocs, P.I.s, and representatives from companies, national labs, and universities. Helping the postdocs to grow their network and making new connections is one of our top priorities.

As one 2019 participant noted, “…thanks to a contact I made at the 2019 postdoc symposium, I was offered and accepted a job opportunity…I wanted to thank [the PSA] for organizing this event and providing an amazing opportunity for me and other postdocs to make good contacts and showcase our skills. It would have been very hard for me to make this contact through a different route.”

To make this event possible, we need your help. We need you to share your talent and energy as part of the symposium organizing committee.  You will enrich your leadership skills, meet like-minded people, make new connections and have an incredible amount of fun while doing it. The effort required would be a couple hours a month at most. Areas of participation are included but not limited to the following:

  1. Invited Speakers and Panel: set the theme for the career panel, identify and recruit panelists
  2. Marketing and Publications: advertising for the event e.g. making flyers, ads, preparing the symposium book etc.
  3. Technical Programs: organizing the poster event, collecting all the abstracts for poster, recruit poster judges
  4. Companies outreach and Networking: contacting individual companies, in coordination with the Postdoctoral Program Office
  5. Community Engagement: conduct post-symposium survey, summarize data to discuss with symposium committee, support on-the-day logistics
  6. Co-Chairs: assist Postdoctoral Program Office with post-symposium communications, including notes of appreciation to speakers and volunteers, communicate meeting notices, activity announcements, and meeting agenda via email.

All the members will work together to put on the symposium.

Please email the PSA ([email protected]) with ‘PSA Symposium’ in the subject if you would like to be part of this exciting event.

On behalf of the PSA Board