Postdocs Focus on Networking, Careers at the 2019 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) held the Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium on November 7, 2019 at the TCS Conference Center. The event attracted over 150 postdoctoral researchers from Argonne, Fermilab and Chicago-area universities. The symposium highlighted research performed by Argonne postdoctoral researchers and allowed participants to network with representatives from industry, research institutions and academia. Postdoctoral Researchers had the opportunity to understand different career path and engage in long lasting professional relationships.

Welcome remarks were giving by Symposium Organizing Committee Chairperson, Ahmed Farghaly (CSE) and Deputy Director for Operations, Kim Sawyer. Sawyer emphasized the importance of postdoctoral researchers to build networks, explore careers and learn from the Argonne Postdoctoral Alumni who participated in the symposium as company representatives and career panelists.

Dr. Valerie Taylor delivers the keynote address at the 2019 Postdoc Symposium.

Valerie Taylor, Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division and Argonne Distinguished Fellow , Argonne National Laboratory, delivered the Keynote Address entitled “Career Paths: Curves, Hills, and Turns.” Taylor’s career has led her to diverse roles in the university and National Lab settings. She spoke about key decision points and lessons she’s learned along the way, using her love of racing as an analogy to navigating career transitions. She also highlighted the importance of considering work-life integration and family needs in making career decisions.

Postdocs network with industry representatives during the networking lunch.

A favorite part of the symposium is the networking lunch, which provided symposium participants with an opportunity to engage with industry and national laboratory representatives in an informal networking environment.

A career panel featured several Argonne postdoctoral alumni in diverse roles. Panelists included Prasanna Balaprakash, Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory, Dolly Batra, RD&E Group Leader, Polymer Research, Nalco Water-an Ecolab Company, Chad Husko, Founder and CEO, Iris Light Technologies, Inc., Casey Larsen, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Benedictine University and Jonnathan Medina Ramos, Staff Scientist, Flinn Scientific. All panelists have Argonne in their history, yet their careers went to completely different directions including academia, national lab research, startups and industry.

Poster 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. Poster presentations were judged for overall poster appearance and quality, topic organization, clarity and significance of illustrations and knowledge of topic. This year, eight individuals were selected to receive awards for outstanding poster presentations and demonstrate the wide diversity of research conducted by Argonne postdocs:

  • Udita Brahmachari (CSE), “Interprotein Electron Transfer Biohybrid System for Photocatalytic H2 Production”
  • Smita Darmora (HEP), “Search for Dijet Resonances in Events with an Isolated Lepton Using √ = 13 TeV Proton-Proton Collision Data Collected by the ATLAS Detector at the Large Hadron Collider”
  • Hieu Doan (MSD), “Materials Discovery via Quantum Chemistry-informed Active Learning”
  • Ian Johnson (CSE), “Tetragonal Tungsten Bronze Framework V4Nb18O55 as an Intercalation Material for Mg Battery Cathodes”
  • Lorenzo Nocivelli (ES), “Numerical Simulation of the Injection of Super-Heated Fuel for Gasoline Direct Injection Applications”
  • Aleena Rafique (HEP), “Search for Novel Physics using Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment”
  • Lily Robertson (CSE), “Highly Fluorescent Benzothiadiazole Redoxmers and Emission Quenching vs. Electrolyte Salt”
  • Lauren Valentino (AMD), “The Water-Energy Nexus: Electrodeionization for Energy Efficient Water Supply”

Check out photos of all poster award recipients on the Symposium Flickr album.

The Symposium Poster Session provided a chance for postdocs to highlight their research.

Symposium Chairperson, Ahmed Farghaly expressed that “the PSA symposium is a great opportunity for Argonne postdocs to learn more about the interesting, cutting-edge and diverse research at the lab, network, create collaborations, make new friends and explore careers. It’s an unforgettable and invaluable learning experience for our postdocs.” Farghaly referred to the Albert Einstein quote, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything,” in recognizing the organizing committee. “In this regard, I would like to give the credit to the Symposium Organizing Committee for making this event a distinguished success by bringing in new companies that open new career opportunities for Argonne postdocs, increasing the awards number and for surpassing expectations for the number of participants.”

The Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and participating companies. The committee would like to thank the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Materials Development, Inc., and Nalco Water-An Ecolab Company, in particular, for their continued support. Postdoc volunteers who served on the 2019 committee included Ahmed A. Farghaly (CSE), Symposium Chairperson, Tejas Guruswamy (XSD), Communication and Marketing Lead. Abhinav Prakash (NST), Secretary and Poster Abstracts Co-Lead, Thomas E. Gage (NST), Company Outreach Lead, Sijia Dong (MSD), Career Panel Lead, Srikanth Nayak (CSE), Survey Lead, Mojammel A. Khan (MSD), Poster Abstracts Lead and Andrea M. Potocny (CSE), Program Book Lead. 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.

For more highlights and photos from the 2019 Symposium, visit Argonne’s Facebook page.

About Kristene Henne

Kristene “Tina” Henne is Argonne’s Postdoctoral Program Lead for the Argonne Leadership Institute. In this role, she facilitates the postdoc appointment process, postdoc career development, mentoring, advises the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne and serves as a navigator for postdoctoral issues.
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