Career Corner: 2014 National Postdoctoral Association Meeting

Bachir Aoun (XSD), a postdoctoral physicist, attended the 2014 National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) meeting as a representative of Argonne for the Midwest Postdoctoral Forum (MWPDF), a collaborative platform for postdocs who are in the Midwest. More than 320 postdoctoral scholars, postdoctoral administrators and faculty participated in the NPA Annual Meeting.

The NPA Annual Meeting provides postdoctoral researchers a unique opportunity to meet with other researchers that understand the postdoctoral journey. Bachir discovered a sense of unity, fellowship and purpose for the significant role that postdoctoral researchers provide to host institutions.

“I believe that attending this meeting can enhance the quality of the postdoctoral experience,” said Bachir.

Bachir took advantage of the many workshops offered to the attending researchers. He found the most relevant and interesting discussion groups centered on new technologies providing researchers the tools to find jobs and manage one’s career.

“Nowadays the concept of being in a permanent job for life is becoming unrealistic for an ambitious person at our level of education,” advises Bachir.

Bachir has found that the world has become a huge pool of competition for career opportunities for Ph.D. level researchers. The Internet, social media and information technology has profoundly changed the way an aspiring and motivated researcher can navigate the career landscape. He learned from the NPA meeting that these tools can and should be used by researchers to help advance careers.

Blogs, Wikis, Linked-In and networking with colleagues can make a world of difference in one’s career path. These tools provide a wealth of information for both short-term and long-term career planning, searching and career development.

Bachir found that this was a key focus and a reoccurring theme at the NPA meeting. Many of the workshops offered at this year’s NPA meeting centered on communication, goal-setting and career development. He also discovered that when seeking a career in industry, meeting the described position requirements is not enough to secure the position.

“No one doubts a scientist’s mental capabilities, so one should highlight and bring attention to skills such as being an exceptional communicator, a problem solver, a good listener and a committed team player,” says Bachir.

NPA 2014 MeetingBachir Aoun (XSD) received his master’s degree in fundamental physics from the Université Paris Sud XI in France and his Ph.D. in physics from the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France. His research has covered a wide range of exciting discoveries and experiences. While working on his master’s he conceived and modeled an invisibility cloak device for the infrared region.

During his Ph.D. studies he focused on molecular ionic systems and calculated for the first time the Density Heterogeneity Order Parameter. He went on to develop and design nMOLDYN, a molecular dynamics analysis software package that can compare modeling and theoretical results. He currently is focusing his efforts on publishing a novel analysis technique for high throughput instrument data mining.

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