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.

Tax Resources for International Scholars

This year the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) took on a mission to expand the resources available to international scholars, who comprise a large portion of the postdoc body at Argonne. Among the focus topics was resources pertaining to tax, which were collected with help from the Postdoc Program Office at Argonne and the Office of International Affairs (OIA) at University of Chicago. Check them out below and keep an eye out for relevant emails early next year!

OIA at University of Chicago has extensive information on their website making it a great place to start off. In addition, they offer workshops during the tax season (starting around February), to which they have kindly extended their invitation to Argonne postdocs. Keep an eye out early next year for announcements from PSA regarding workshop dates!

In case you can’t attend, video of a previous workshop presentation has been posted online:–bLCzNazZo. While this recording is from a workshop catered to international graduate students, most of it is relevant for international postdocs, too.

For those considered as non-residents for tax purposes, filing options include: completing forms on your own, hiring a tax attorney, or using a tax filing software for non-residents (such as Sprintax and Glacier Tax Prep). See also the International Postdoc Survival Guide from the National Postdoctoral Association. Argonne has a sustaining membership with the NPA, which means all postdocs may sign up for free affiliate membership to take advantage of member-only benefits.



2019 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2019 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium.

Deadline for abstracts is Oct. 18

The 2019 Postdoctoral Research and Career Symposium will take place Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Building 240 TCS Conference Center.

The symposium:

  • Showcases postdoctoral research
  • Highlights diverse career paths for postdocs
  • Promotes networking among postdocs and with industry representatives

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Valerie Taylor, Division Director for Mathematics and Computing Science (MCS) at Argonne.  Dr. Taylor received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991. Prior to joining Argonne, Dr. Taylor held leadership positions in academia, including serving as the head of the computer science and engineering department at Texas A&M and as senior associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering and a Regents Professor and the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science.

A career panel featuring Argonne postdoctoral alumni from diverse careers is being organized by the PSA Symposium committee.

Postdocs can participate by:

  • Presenting their research at one of two poster sessions
  • Submitting their resumes to be shared with industry participants
  • Registering as a general attendee to network and focus on career exploration

Registration and abstract submission are now open. Abstracts should be submitted by Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Attendee-only registration will remain open until Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.

Register today

Resumes will be provided for company exhibitors. Please submit resumes by Oct. 18, 2019, using the instructions and template available on the symposium webpage.

Event Contacts

This event is organized by the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne and the Postdoctoral Program Office.

To volunteer and for more information on how to participate, contact the Symposium Committee Chairperson Ahmed Farghaly (CSE).

For resume submission and general inquiries:


It’s National Postdoc Appreciation Week!

The third week of September is officially National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW). Since 2009, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has sponsored this week-long celebration of the critical role of postdocs in the global research enterprise. In 2010, NPAW culminated with the passage of house resolution 1545 by the U.S. House of Representatives, formally recognizing NPAW.

The NPA defines a postdoc as an “individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.”

This one-sentence definition includes the main elements of a postdoctoral appointment and the key activities they should be engaged in–research, mentoring, professional development and career planning. Taken together, this describes a mutually beneficial relationship between the postdoc and their research institution. But how do the benefits of this relationship manifest?

For the postdoc, the benefits should include opportunities to build a reputation as an independent researcher, acquiring new skills and the development needed to ensure smooth career transitions.

For the institution, the benefits include the obvious contributions to research objectives—the work gets done. Beyond that, though, postdocs bring tremendous value to organizations in many ways. At Argonne, postdocs directly contribute to each pillar of the Impact Argonne strategy.

Through research productivity, innovation and output, they help grow our reputation as a science and technology leader. They are both part of and help build the world class community of talent through the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne, mentoring students, contributing to major initiatives such as the Core Values forums and Vision 2050 sessions, and serving on lab-wide committees such as the Employee Resource Group Forum, Diversity and Inclusion councils and the WIST Steering Committee. By serving on safety committees and offering valuable input on processes and procedures, postdocs help us sustain operational excellence.

This year during NPAW, I encourage us to think collectively about the value of postdocs and all they bring to the Laboratory. Find ways to let them know they are a valuable part of the Argonne community. Give a postdoc a core value shout-out. Give them a mention at a divisional meeting. Introduce them to colleagues to expand their networks. Encourage them to take part in NPAW events such as the special PSA Coffee Break featuring a guest motivational speaker. Or, simply tell them they are valuable members of your team and you are glad they are here.







Designing Your Industry Career Path and Genuine Networking Workshop

Are you thinking about a career in industry but are not sure how to start? Does the thought of networking make you cringe? Don’t worry! David Giltner, PhD, author, speaker and career mentor will be here on September 25th to teach postdocs a step-by-step approach to designing a career path in the private sector and how to network in a genuine way.

In part 1, participants will learn five critical elements of designing a career in industry:

1. Determine your Strengths
2. Define your Target
3. Tell Great Stories
4. Build your Network
5. Thinking Big

In part 2, participants will learn a six-step process for building effective professional relationships.

Learn more and read David’s blog at

Visiting postdocs and graduate students are welcome to participate. Space is limited so sign up today at the Postdoc Events RSVP page.

Date: September 25, 2019
Time: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location:  Building 446 Auditorium
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Designing Your Own Career Path in the Private Sector
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM Networking Break
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Genuine Networking

About the Speaker:

David Giltner is the author of the book Turning Science into Things People Need, and is an internationally recognized speaker and mentor for early career scientists and engineers seeking careers in industry. He has spent the last 20+ years commercializing photonics technologies in a variety of roles for companies, including JDS Uniphase and Ball Aerospace. David has a BS and PhD in physics and holds six patents in the fields of laser spectroscopy and optical communications.