Postdoctoral Society of Argonne to Host NPAW Events to Celebrate Postdocs!


Did you know there are around 70,000 postdocs nationwide? Postdocs at Argonne and across the national celebrate postdocs annually during National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW)! Join the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) as we host and share several events during NPAW 2021.

We encourage postdocs to attend a speech by our Executive Champion, Dr. Valerie Taylor Wednesday September 22nd at 11 AM Central. This past year, PSA became an Employee Resource Group (ERG), and our Executive Champion promotes our group. Check out the other ERGs here!

Join the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)!  Join 18,000 other postdocs to foster your career goals. It’s free! Sign up as an Argonne affiliate postdoc at and click on “Join” in the upper right corner. Those who join will be entered for a raffle prize for joining the NPA.

Postdoctoral Society of Argonne NPAW Events

Wednesday September 22nd 11 AM Central

PSA NPAW 2021 Keynote Speaker

Join PSA for a motivational speech from Dr. Valerie Taylor, director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division. Dr. Taylor has extensive experience in academia, national labs, and leadership. Bring your questions for a 20–30 min Q&A at the end of the speech! RSVP at

Friday September 24th at 12 PM Central

The Versatile PhD: Exploring Diverse Career Paths

Join PSA during the Postdoctoral Appreciation Week on for an open panel discussion about diverse PhD career paths. Invited speakers from different backgrounds will join to discuss their career paths and share advice for postdoctoral researcher aiming to understand more about the versatility of the PhD degree.

Invited speakers:

Joe Grange, PhD – AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships, USAID

Hal Finkel, PhD – Program Manager, Computer Science, ASCR at DOE

Azucena Rodriguez, PhD – Argonne Science Education and Outreach,

Lake Paul, PhD – Founder & President of BioAnalysis, LLC


National Postdoctoral Association NPAW Events

Register for these events and more at!

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne Announces 2021 Officers

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne recently elected new officers for the 2021 calendar year. The PSA Officers serve as the Executive Committee for the PSA Board and set the direction for PSA efforts. Last year’s PSA Board wrote and approved the new PSA Charter as we became an Employee Resource Group (ERG), moved all our social and professional development events to virtual and organized yet another successful Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium. The 2021 Officers are excited to build on these successes, while spearheading new initiatives. Please welcome the 2021 PSA Officers!

President, Juan Diego Colmenares Fernandez:

I received my PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM), having done my previous studies at the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. I started working at Argonne in 2019 as a postdoctoral appointee in the Energy Systems Division, doing research in computational modeling of fuel sprays for internal combustion engine applications using the HPC resources at the lab. I was president of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Association at UNM and I lead the Company Outreach subcommittee for the 2020 Argonne Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium.

As President of PSA, I would like to explore new ways to engage with postdocs at Argonne so they feel supported through these trying times. I would like to promote social activities, since I’ve found that Argonne postdocs are not only intelligent, but also incredibly kind and talented outside of work. Finally, I would like to support the efforts from the PSA to help postdocs find their career path, whether inside or outside of Argonne.

Vice President, Lily Robertson:

My background starts with a love for new ideas. In high school, I discovered a love of chemistry and distilled my creativity into a scientific career. I’ve moved east from graduate school in Colorado to postdoc in Illinois at UIUC and Argonne and now work on flow batteries. My credentials include serving on the Postdoc Symposium Organizing Committee (ANL), a department climate committee (UIUC), and a non-profit board. As PSA Vice President I will champion postdocs whose career paths and sense of community feel uncertain during Covid-19. Postdocs need a way to reengage and reconnect. I will seek to connect us in ways that overcome BlueJeans fatigue including social activities like introducing each other to family recipes and open mic nights and networking activities with non-Postdoc staff and crossdivision working groups. With skills and strengths provided by the PSA, postdocs will never walk alone in their career paths.

Secretary, Cody Nunno:

I am the current Secretary of the Postdoc Society of Argonne, serving a second term. I work in the Energy Systems division in the Multi-Physics Computation group, performing CFD simulations on combustion devices. Prior to coming to Argonne, I was a PhD student at Princeton University in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While at Princeton, I spent 5 years as a member of the MAE Graduate Student Committee, including two years as the chair, addressing issues that affected graduate students in our department and serving as a liaison between the administration and the graduate student body. I don’t have any grand or specific plans as PSA secretary, other than to continue to serve as a communicator to the Argonne postdoc community, but I enjoy service, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to give back to the postdoc community here at Argonne.

Social Liaison, Andrea Nicolas:

I am currently a Postdoctoral Associate at Argonne National Laboratory under the Applied Materials Division, working on the evaluation of Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMTs) for nuclear applications, the uncertainty quantification of nuclear materials, and the development of frameworks that can evaluate both metallic and nonmetallic nuclear components using ASME rules. I received an MS and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University, where I focused on the environmental damage of aerospace-grade materials from both a mechanical and a chemical perspective. Prior to graduate school I worked for ITP aero as a structural analyst, where I worked on the development and production of aircraft turbine components subjected to high-temperature working conditions. During my graduate studies I acted as social chair for the aerospace graduate student organization at Purdue. I enjoy organizing events that brings people together, especially when they relate to celebrating cultural holidays across the world. I hope that my contributions as social chair will enable the postdocs across Argonne to keep a sense of community in the current virtual environment.


Postdocs Engage with Research Talks, Industry Networking, and Career Advice at the 2020 Virtual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) held the Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium on November 4th – 5th, its first time as a virtual event. The annual symposium aims to highlight postdoctoral research and provide opportunities for participants to focus on career exploration and development.

This year’s symposium had record turnout, with 205 postdoctoral researchers from Argonne and universities across the nation registered. Seventy-three postdoctoral researchers presented their research via recorded presentations followed by live, virtual question and answer sessions. The symposium also allowed participants to network with representatives from industry, research institutions and academia, learn about different career paths and build professional relationships.

Symposium Co-Chair, Kevin Brown (LCF) opened the event and Laboratory Director Paul Kearns gave the welcome remarks. Kearns highlighted the importance of postdoctoral researchers for enabling world class science at Argonne and encouraged postdocs to build networks, explore careers and learn from the Argonne Alumni who participated in the symposium as company representatives and career panelists.

Professor Todd Allen (right) delivers the keynote address at the 2020 Postdoc Symposium with welcome remarks by Argonne Director Paul Kearns (left).

Todd Allen, Professor of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, University of Michigan, delivered the Keynote Address entitled “21st Century Nuclear Energy (And How I go here)”. Allen mentioned the different paths he had taken over the course of his career and provided invaluable advice to postdocs on career planning. He remarked that attendees should “Never assume that your current adventure will be your last. If you do well with things you will be offered a series of other exciting adventures from which to choose. As long as you are having fun and growing, the adventure goes on”. Using his personal experience, Professor Allen went further to caution against planning for next 20 year, and instead make full use of every opportunities in the present moment.

The symposium included three career panels featuring Argonne alumni working in academia, national labs, and industry.

Academic/national labs panel

  • Erin Iski (Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Tulsa)
  • Leonardo Bautista-Gomez (Senior Researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center)
  • Ilias Bilionis (Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University)
  • Julie Bessac ( Assistant Computational Statistician, Argonne National Laboratory)

Industry panel #1

  • Giovanni Ramirez (Sales Manager US-West and Mexico, and Applications Scientist, Bruker Nano Surfaces and Metrology Division)
  • Zina Jarrahi Cinker (Director General of Advanced Material Pandemic & Future Preparedness Taskforce)
  • Greg Halder (Business Development Executive, Technology Commercialization & Partnerships Division, ANL)
  • Steve Letourneau (Senior Process Engineer, ASM)

Industry panel #2

  • Chris Claxton (Principal, Volta Energy Technologies)
  • Fu Lin (Staff Research Engineer in Autonomous & Intelligent Systems, Raytheon Technologies Research Center)
  • Marvin Cummings (Program Manager at New York Academy of Sciences)
  • Youssef Nashed (Lead Computer Vision scientist at Stats Perform)

Research presentations at the symposium gave participants the opportunity to showcase their research to a wider 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 depth of knowledge and communication skills. This year, eight individuals were selected to receive awards for outstanding virtual presentations. These presentations also demonstrate the wide diversity of research conducted by Argonne postdocs and visiting postdocs/graduate students:

  • Amanda Carr (Chemical Sciences & Engineering Division), “Manipulation of Graphene-Polymer Interfaces for Improved Graphene Transfer”
  • Feng Gao (Advanced Materials for Energy Water Systems Division), “Maximizing Selectivity: An Analysis of Isoporous Membranes”
  • Ali Murat Gok (Mathematics & Computer Science Division), “Application-Specific Lossy Compression Algorithmsfor Scientific Data”
  • Manoj Jadhav (Physics Division), “Picosecond Timing Resolution Measurements of Low Gain Avalanche Detectors with a 120 GeV Proton Beam for the TOPSiDE Detector Concept”
  • Sayop Kim (Energy Systems Division), “Exploration of Combustion Dynamics in a Multi-Mode Combustion Engine”
  • Zachary Lebens-Higgins (Binghamton University), “Identifying the Delithiation Mechanisms for the Li-rich Li1.3Fe0.4Nb0.3O2 Disordered Rocksalt Cathode”
  • Aleena Rafique (High Energy Physics Division), “Search for Michel Electrons in ProtoDUNE”
  • Lei Wang (Chemical Sciences & Engineering Division), “New Chromophores for Photochemical Water Oxidation at Low pH”

The CrowdCompass app provided a landing point for Postdocs to interact with others’ virtual presentations and industry representatives.


Several presenters also submitted their abstracts to be featured on Argonne’s Instagram feed as part of a promotional effort for the symposium. The presenters include Aleena Rafique,Varun Kulkarni,Yana Karslyan, Partha Paul, Zhe Liu.



A mystery prize was advertised to encourage postdocs to register, and five randomly selected winners chose from among eight motivating books about career development. Symposium participants also tested their trivia skills at the first Symposium Virtual Trivia Night.

Dr. Stephen Streiffer, Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at Argonne, concluded the two-day event by emphasizing the role of the symposium in building professional networks and the contributions of postdocs in pivotal discoveries and scientific advances.

The Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and participating companies. Symposium co-chairs, Kevin Brown and Srikanth Nayak expressed that “given the circumstances this year, we had to rethink the symposium format and the overall organization. It was a unique challenge, and it was very thrilling to see the event come together. Thanks to creative and dynamic work of our awesome team, we were able to host this impactful event without ever having a face-to-face committee meeting!”

The committee would like to thank Materials Development, Inc. for their continued and long-standing support for the symposium. Postdoc volunteers who served on the 2020 committee included Srikanth Nayak (CSE) and Kevin Brown (LCF), Symposium Co-chairs, Darren Driscoll (XSD), Amanda Lenzi (MCS), and Chris Otolski (CSE), Invited Speakers and Panels Co-Leads, Ritesh Uppuluri (CSE), Lily A. Robertson (CSE), and Adarsh Bafana (ES), Marketing and Publications Co-Leads, Zahmeeth Sayed Sakkaff (DSL), Dezhi Dai (NSE), and Brian Thomas Phelan (CSE), Technical Programs Co-Leads, Juan Diego Colmenares Fernandez (ES), and Thomas Gage (NST), Companies Outreach and Networking Co-Leads, Katherine Hepler (SSS) and Carla Mann (DSL), Community Engagement Co-Leads. The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne issues a call for volunteers in the months leading up to the symposium. All postdocs interested in planning next year’s event are encouraged to contact their PSA officers.


Registration for the 2020 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium Is Now Open


The 2020 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium will be held virtually on Wednesday and Thursday November 4th – 5th for the two-day symposium. The event will feature a poster session, multiple career panels, industry networking, and a trivia social.

Dr. Todd Allen, Professor and Chair at the University of Michigan will give the keynote speaker.  The event is open and free of cost to Argonne postdocs and non-Argonne postdocs and graduate students in the Chicago area who work on Argonne-based research.

Key Information:

When: November 4th and 5th

Where: BlueJeans Events Platform

Deadlines: Abstract submissions due by Oct 14th

Resume submissions due by Oct 28th

Follow instructions on the symposium website for registration and submission of resumes and abstracts

Abstracts should be uploaded when you register as a presenter. All attendees are encouraged to submit their resumes to be shared with participating companies. A template and further tips for your resume are on the symposium website. 

The Symposium Organizing Committee is actively recruiting companies to participate. The Symposium website will be updated on a rolling basis until the day of the event. Please check back for more details.

NPAW Recognizes Needs and Contributions of Postdocs Beyond Research


The third week of September is National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week (NPAW). This week celebrates the contributions of postdoctoral scholars to the research enterprise here and around the world. The efforts of postdocs were considered so important that the U.S. House of Representatives codified NPAW in House Resolution 1545, which passed in 2009. You can read the full text of the resolution, but in summary, the measure:

  1. supports the designation of “National Postdoc Appreciation Week”;
  2. recognizes the accomplishments and contributions postdocs make to relevant departments, institutions, fields, and communities around the United States and the world;
  3. recognizes the career development and other professional needs of postdocs in every field of study; and
  4. encourages the improvement of training and career opportunities in various research fields at all levels of training and stages of all research careers.

What contributions do our postdocs make to the Argonne community? In a word, many. Argonne postdocs volunteer for outreach activities, serve as mentors to middle school, high school and college students through the various Educational and Outreach Programs and Employee Resource Group efforts. They serve on committees and focus groups that aim to improve the way we work.

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) builds community through social and collegial activities. They help lead efforts to meet the third and fourth goals of HR 1545. They are active participants in the vibrant community of Employee Resource Group leaders. They keep the Postdoctoral Program Office and laboratory leadership informed of issues of greatest concern to the postdoc community. Their efforts to bring postdocs together are especially important this year, in the “new normal” we find ourselves.

What can we do to celebrate postdocs in the spirit of the original resolution that established NPAW? Acknowledge and express appreciation for their contributions to our research missions and beyond. Find ways to meet the career and professional development needs that are inherent in their positions. And finally, provide both the structural and moral support needed to help them get to the next stage of their promising careers.

The PSA is hosting two events this week to celebrate NPAW. The first is a career advice panel featuring Argonne postdoctoral alumni on Thursday, September 24th at 2:00 PM. The second is a special keynote address on Friday, September 25th at 12:30 PM, which will feature Stephen Streiffer, deputy director for Science and Technology, interim associate laboratory director for Photon Sciences, and director of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne. All postdocs are encouraged to join these events.