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.

PSA Issues Call for 2020 Symposium Committee Members

The Symposium held in November, is organized by postdocs for postdocs

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) holds a Postdoctoral Symposium every year. The 2020 Symposium will be held on November 5th at the 240 Conference Center/TCS. 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. Career panel:  set the theme for the career panel, identify and recruit panelists
  2. Communication and Marketing: advertising for the event e.g. making flyers, ads, etc.
  3. Poster: organizing the poster event, collecting all the abstracts for poster, recruit poster judges
  4. Program book: preparing the symposium book
  5. Companies outreach: contacting individual companies, in coordination with the Postdoctoral Program Office
  6. Survey: conduct post-symposium survey, summarize data to discuss with symposium committee
  7. Symposium Follow-up: assist Postdoctoral Program Office with post-symposium communications, including notes of appreciation to speakers and volunteers
  8. Secretary: 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 President Laura Boon ([email protected]) with ‘PSA Symposium’ in the subject if you would like to be part of this exciting event.

Publishing For Impact Featuring the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Nanoscience and Technology Division is hosting a special seminar featuring Dr. Jeremy Allen from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Dr. Allen will discuss his career in scientific publishing and offer advice on the publication process, from peer review to promoting your work. All postdocs and interested researchers are encouraged to attend.

Date: Tuesday, March 3rd

Time: 10:00am

Location: Bldg 440, Room: A105/106


The Royal Society of Chemistry is one of the leading international chemical societies and it plays an important role within the community – helping to support those working in and studying the chemical sciences with a wide range of activities. During this presentation I will introduce the work that the Royal Society of Chemistry does, my role within the organization and the route I took from PhD student to being the Deputy Editor for Chemical Science. I will also highlight the role publisher’s play in the community and the benefits they can afford for supporting the dissemination of an author’s research output. Finally I will discuss the peer review and publication process, including how to choose a journal, getting your paper noticed and what to do after publication.

About the Speaker:

Jeremy Allen joined the Royal Society of Chemistry in July 2014 as a publishing editor, starting on the journals Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics and Nanoscale. Before moving to his current role as the Deputy Editor for Chemical Science, he also worked as a publishing editor on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s analytical chemistry portfolio and as a deputy editor on ChemComm and Chemical Society Reviews. Prior to joining the organization, he completed a PhD at the University of Bath, UK and worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research focused on the use of computational chemistry for modelling reactions on surfaces and understanding the defect chemistry of oxide materials.

Postdoctoral Society of Argonne Announces 2020 Officers

The Postdoctoral Society of Argonne recently elected new officers for the 2020 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 made significant progress towards developing new resources for international postdocs, making connections with Chicago-area postdoctoral associations and the University of Chicago, building community through the PSA Coffee Breaks, and organizing yet another successful Annual Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium. The 2020 Officers are excited to build on these successes, while spearheading new initiatives. Please welcome the 2020 PSA Officers!

President Laura Boon (ASD) graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Accelerator Physics in 2014, completing her graduate work here at Argonne National Laboratory. Since graduating, she’s worked at SLAC National Accelerator Lab, and as an engineer at a startup in California, called Matterport. She returned to academia September 2018 when she started current postdoc position at the Advanced Photon Source. As President, Laura states, “I will update the Postdoc Blog. From event announcements, to follow-ups for our informational coffee breaks, I see the blog becoming a central location for postdoc information. I have also been on the committee writing a strategic plan for PSA, keep an eye out for more on this!”

Vice President Milos Atz (NSE) started at Argonne in September 2019 and joined the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne Board soon after. In his short time here, he has enjoyed opportunities to pursue social and professional development through the PSA. He would like to contribute to the excellent efforts of the PSA as Vice President. Milos is excited about developing new ways to engage postdocs in PSA and lab-wide events and activities and in fostering connections with other postdoctoral associations in the Chicago area. At Argonne, he is (re)developing software that calculates energy balances in nuclear reactors. Previously, he was a student at UC Berkeley where he obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering. Outside of work, Milos says, “I love people, food, fun, the outdoors, and some sports.”

Liaison Officer Tony Montoya (CSE) has been a postdoctoral appointee at Argonne since February 2019. He completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Iowa. His research at Argonne in the field of electrochemical energy storage is part of an effort for recycling lithium ion batteries. His background as a solid state chemist directs the focus of his work to the analysis and regeneration of spent cathode materials. The recycling program is a joint effort between Argonne and other national labs and universities. As Liaison Officer, Tony will continue to bring postdocs together through planning networking opportunities on site, such as the PSA Coffee Breaks, and through organizing after work social events.

Secretary Cody Nunno (ES) is a postdoctoral appointee in the Multi-Physics Computation group, performing CFD simulations on combustion devices. Prior to coming to Argonne in July of 2019, he earned his Ph.D. Princeton University in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While at Princeton, Cody 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 the department and serving as a liaison between the administration and the graduate student body. Cody was motivated to run for PSA Secretary because he “enjoys service and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to the postdoc community here at Argonne.”

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.