November 2017

Council Meeting Minutes

Stanford Postdoctoral Association

Nov 29th, 2017, 11.30-1:00pm

Lorry Lokey Stem Cell Building, G1002



Council members: Anand Rao, Saumyaa, Virginie Gabel, Gina Bouchard, John Hegarty,  Lise Retailleau, Christian La, Arnaud Bruyas, Bradley Tolar, Clarice Aiello, Mariapaola Sidoli, Sharon Greenblum, Dilip Thomas, Ioana Marin.  


Non-members: Pavlos Tsantilas, Justin Klein, Deb Karhson, Diva Arvola, Ulla Gerling-Driessen, Marc Driessen, Ana Oliveira, Avik Dutt, Kacie Deters, Cheavar Blair, Li Zheng, Fabio Zanini


Quorum:  Yes, 14/30  council members



  • Meeting called to order by co-chair, Anand

  • Unanimous approval of Oct 2017 minutes


Update on SACNAS and ABRCRMS

Both SACNAS and ABRCRMS are efforts to encourage diversity in science.


Ioana: SACNAS-Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science

She attended the meeting and represented postdocs there. A lot of undergrads were overwhelmed to see how many others of their kind are in the university.

They also have a great leadership program- a leadership academy. They do a lot of mentorship and connection.



Anand- What did you present or what did you get out of it?

Ioana- She met Alberto Roca there who runs the website He presented in the SURPAs meeting. SURPAS will probably continue collaborating with him. Attending SACNAS was very inspirational as well.


Additional small announcement (Ioana):

School of humanities and sciences is looking for a new dean. They are asking for feedback from postdocs. Any SURPAS member who is part of that school, who might be willing to contribute should contact Ioana.


Anand- Martha Cyert on PACPA and she is leading that initiative in the search.


Deb: ABRCMS- Annual biomedical research conference for minority STEMS

It is mostly geared towards undergraduates and graduate students. There were not a lot of postdocs. She motivated the undergrads to go to grad school and do postdoc. There was conversation about the PRISM program. There was a lot of praise for diversity in general on campus.


PRISM program is a weekend retreat run by OPA. You get to come to campus and get to meet faculty, meet existing postdocs on campus. Everyone can forward PRISM flyer to their graduate programs. It’s on OPA social media.


Upcoming events (Virginie):

  • Dec9th - potentially some holiday event with BAPS

Kacie- suggested to participate in santa con

If nothing happens with BAPS- we will potentially organize a SURPAS HH


  • DEC13 meeting - half of it is holiday celebration


  • Jan holiday party


Kindergarten care concern by Ulla Gerling-Driessen and and Marc Daniel Driessen)

They are a stanford postdoc couple who have 2 kids in Stanford’s daycare system, at the Sock Farm road location. There has been a recent change in the company that runs that daycare. Marc and Illa have the following concerns with the new company (ICRI)-


ICRI-    supposed to be a non-profit.

  • Daycare bills are normally due on 1st of the month but can be paid by 5th or 6th. Kindercare(previous company) had a model where parents could pay by credit card. ICRI killed that adding a 2.6% fee if you pay by credit card. Stanford payroll kicks in 6th of every month. It is difficult to make a payment by 5th/6th if you are living on postdoc salary, paycheck to paycheck.

  • Stanford helped Marc to work out a deal with ICRI that they can pay until 25th of the month. But it is an exception for them. Each parent has to go through this process individually and may not even know that this is an option.

  • There will be a complete winter closure for this new daycare. With previous company parents could decide whether they want to bring your kid to daycare of keep them home. Based on that parents could get a refund (if kids stayed home). ICRI are completely shutting down for winter closure AND there no refund for half month of Dec.

  • He contacted  the company’s CEO and tried to reason with him, to no avail. Company explained that it is not economical for them to keep the center running in holidays and pay full salary to teachers- if very few kids may come. But they did not comment on refund.

  • Stanford offers a nanny service during holidays. Under that program you get a different nanny for each day and even at the subsidized cost, nanny charges $8/hour. So its a double hit for parents if they have to work during holidays- full month payment for daycare in Dec and having to pay for nanny during the holidays.


SURPAS will pass on all this information to Family committee and they can take it up with the administration.


Update on Faculty senate meeting (Anand)

The meeting is on 11/30. There will be a 20 min presentation + 30 mins for discussion.

4 individuals will be speaking at the presentation-

Patti Gumport- VPGE

Sofie- OPA head

Anand-SURPAS chair

Martha Cyert- PACPA chair



  • Fabio- Based in his experience at the PROVOST meeting- Stanford is aware of postdoc numbers and housing issue. But they still choose to allocate zero dollars towards housing. They simply just don’t want to do anything about it. Stanford has all the power to do that.

  • Anand- LRP process has changed their tone. The administration is more receptive now. Patti gumport has been in constant touch with Provost.

  • Deb:-Stanford does not have that power because postdocs are hired by PI, not stanford. Our pay comes from PI grants, not Stanford.

  • Bradley- Additionally postdocs don’t pay any tuition. So it’s hard for stanford to justify to allocate budget for us, when they have no control of who comes in as a postdoc.


Discussion on the presentations continues- .

  • How postdocs contribute to Stanford mission- Mentoring students, administrative responsibilities,

  • Salary- Stanford is 10% higher than rest of the places( a recent change). But while Stanford give us a slightly higher salary, cost of living here is the highest too.

  • It is even more difficult for people from minority backgrounds or those who have family to survive here. If we are to promote diversity and inclusion, this sets us back. Stanford should not be a place of privilege.

Potential solutions-

  • Raising minimum salary

  • Subsidized housing and child care- short term housing when new postdocs relocate. There are about 100 postdoc children. But Stanford only has 700 spots for daycare for the entire campus and Faculty gets a preference at these centres.Stanford gives some subsidy for childcare based on your income ( 20%). Anand is not sure if it’s only for on campus daycares or even off campus daycare.

  • Alan Ceaser (from SBPA) is going to be present there. He thinks we should emphasize on diversity.



  • Sharon- Graphic for a split-up of where our salary goes might help

  • A meeting attendee- MIT offers 401k matching. Stanford couold potentially run some such program.

  • Others- We should pick examples from other top institutions, to put things in perspective.

  • Fabio- Stanford’s common counter argument for diversity is that we love diversity, but we have to get the best talent. That is the priority.

  • Deb- PI’s have to make a conscious effort to fight against this prejudice

  • Anand- programs like PRISM put this underrepresented postdoctoral candidates in the picture, for faculty to easily recruit from.

  • There are some models in place- like cohort model, that support diversity during recruitment process.

  • Clarice- But majority hiring will still be done directly by PIs, not from these cohorts like PRISM and others. Is there some guidelines that can be put in place for hiring.

  • John- Martha Cyert has been working on pushing for centralized funding and putting similar diversity guidelines for postdoc hiring as it is for  undergrad or grad programs. Diversity regulations can be applied to the existing Stanford fellowships.

  • Mark- Maybe offering help to PIs ( through OPA or some Stanford facility) to set the right kind of hiring message on their website, might speed up the process.


Update on Family committee (Sarah Eagleman):


  • They had their first committee  meeting - 19 postdocs attended. Most expressed issues were-

    • housing

    • childcare cost.

    • lot of events ( professional and social) happen at a time when parents have to go pickup their kids

  • Halloween event- Virginie and Gina put it together. More than 110 people attended. It was biggest, most well attended family event in the history of SURPAS. A lot of postdocs mentioned that they were like waiting for such an event.

  • There is family FB group.

  • The committee has initiated communication with Stanford Parents Group. They did an initial survey to assess the issues of postdocs with family. Biggest issue again were housing and childcare

  • They have about 11 postdocs that are interested in being actively involved


Next steps-

  • Potentially a more comprehensive survey soon

  • Figuring out who else to collaborate with on such issues


Resumed discussion on Faculty Senate meeting-

Anand walked everyone through the tentative slides for the meeting. These presentation will be shared among all 4 presenters. It is confidential.


Update from symposium committee (Saumyaa/Bradley)

There was a detailed discussion on postdoc symposium in the Oct council meeting. Based on that, these are the potential plans/ ideas for 2018 postdoc symposium-

  • To improve attendance in poster and talk sessions one the following approach can be used-

    • Have multiple parallel talk session, but with distinct focus areas. Otherwise find only 1or2 talks( related to their topic) interesting and do not care about the rest.

    • Have poster session along with lunch, as lunch is always very well attended.

    • Eliminate poster session altogether, as postdocs to get a chance to present posters at many places. Focus on talks. Removing osters will allow more time for talks.

  • Make the event an off campus retreat, like some of the departmental retreats. That might generate more interest among postdoc community to attend the event. Although this will require much more funding.


We will start assembling a new team soon. Co-chair positions for the committee are open.


Short announcements (Anand):

- To stay better updated and connected with the various SURPAS committees, leadership team has decided to appoint a liaison for each committee.

  • Teaching & outreach- Saumyaa

  • Housing and Transportation- Anand

  • Family- Gina

  • Diversity- Ioana

  • Sports and Social- Virginie

  • Communications- Brian and Sharon

  • Symposium- Saumyaa & Virginie

  • SPIF- Daniel


-There have been recent changes in 2 lines of marguerite shuttle. The new system is a not working well. Daniel is in tough the parking and transportation to get things fixed.

- For anyone organizing and event, please check with Virginie first.


Meeting called to closure at 1pm by Anand