October 2017

Council Meeting Minutes

Stanford Postdoctoral Association

Oct 25th, 2017, 11.30-1:00pm

Lorry Lokey Stem Cell Building, G1002



Council members: Anand Rao, Saumyaa, Virginie Gabel, Jesse Isaacman-Beck, Roberta Sala, Bradley Tolar, Arnaud Bruyas, Christian La, Brian Griffiths, Clarice Aiello, Mariapaola Sidoli, Jorik van de Groep,  Sharon Greenblum, Catherine Tcheanndjieu, Dilip Thomas, Lise Retailleau, Gina Bouchard, Ioana Marin.  


Non-members: Natalie Nevarez, Justin Klein, Lucas Herissant, Pavlos Tsantilas, Deb Kahrson, Xian Jiang, Xiaoming Zhai, Johana Vega, Aldo Cordova, Alberto Roca, Meritt Maduke,


Quorum:  Yes, 18/30  council members



  • Meeting called to order by co-chair, Anand

  • Unanimous approval of Sep 2017 minutes


Discussion on Faculty Senate meeting prep:

Anand gave a run through of the points to be discussed in upcoming Faculty Senate meeting.


Following comments were made:

Roberta: Maybe we should present solutions instead of reiterating the problems

Iona: Housing should not be left out of agenda, just because it has been brought up multiple times

Bradley: SURPAS have been told in the past that there is never going to be postdoc housing built on campus

Merrit: We should not tell university leadership what to do. We should just emphasize on the most important issues.


Postdoc alumni network - Merrit

Will talbot has given a significant money to put up a nice postdoc alumni event. There is a room booked at LKSC for Sep28, 2018. Career center will help in the organization of this event. But help from postdocs is needed, as they know best what they want and what’s good for them.


Following comments were made:

Gina- For the Postdoc symposium there were over 100 people who came for networking lunch. But SURPAS didn’t get access to the the alumni network to invite them for the event.


Meritt- There is no network yet. For their survey, she got a list from SOM where postdocs can optionally submit their email while departing Stamford. Sofie has a pretty extensive list of her own. An anonymous survey was sent. In that survey people were asked if they would like to share their email to be conatcted for networking events. That is the list that Meritt shared with SURPAS for the Postoc Symposium.


Sofie also created an alumni linkedin group. Maybe a link to this linkedin group can be added to the survey.


Bylaw discussion:

Bradley- Nobody contacted the committee with any objections to the changes in the bylaws

Council discussed whether the council seats should be capped at 30. Mutiple views where presented-

  • Allowing more members means more things can be done

  • Having too many members will make it kard to coordinate efforts and votine etc.

  • Having limited seats will also make people take it more seriously

  • Interested candidates should be required to attend 2 coucnil meetings before they can run for election. This will give them more time to get familiar with the council and to asses their interest and commitment.

  • All stanford Psotdocs by default are members of SURPAS. They can always partcipate in SURPAS initiatives, attend council meetings and chair committees, without having to be a council member.


Voting on revised bylaws will be help in the next council meeting.


Communincation committee- Sharon

Previosuly Communication committe have written articles for Stanord Daily, worked on a white paper. Now those people left and the committee had kind of died. We would like to get it started again.

It can take different forms. One thing that hasn’t been done before and we are gettting started with is a more condensed version of SURPAS news in the form of a monthly newletter. The goal is to reach more people who don’t come to meetings, to make the bigger postdoc community at Stanford aware of what is going on, to publicize our events, ideas and initiatives.

Sharon has initiated the newsletter but needs help to continue compiling it every month. Any suggestions and ideas are welcome.



Ioana- OPA is willing to put it on their website. It can be distributed to postdoc orientation, luncheons etc.

Deb- Each month can have a theme/focus. For example Feb is a black history month so that can be the focus.  


Family committe update - Gina and Jesse:

Jesse- The first family committee meeting was organized. Major ideas discussed were childcare and organizing groups for collective babysitting help and support. A playground on SOM campus to send your kids while you fnish experiments would be useful for parents.Participation in the meeting was limited. A survey can be sent out to get a broader sense of what postdoc with families need.


Gina- The first family committee event is being organized. It is a Halloween party on Oct27, 2-5pm at Dean’s Lawn. Maybe we can get more ideas on what events to do during this by inviting suggestions from participating postdoc families.


Updates on past events:

Postdoc Symposium (Saumyaa)- It was 1.5 day long program. It started with half a day of professional development workshops on various topics like- Grant writing, Transitioning to industry, interviewing skills, science communication, IMPROV, ethics.

Second day was research talks, networking lunch, poster session and happy hour.


Workshops had a mixed turnout. Lunch was well attended. But like last year, the research talk session was not well attended at all.

One drawback we are aware of was its proximity to NPAW, thus burying the publicty annoucements.


Comments and suggestions-

Catharine- Some of her labmates exressed concerns that many of the talks were not f their interest. Maybe have  various focused groups for the talk session might make it more relevant to people.

Iona and Gina- Agreed with that opinion

Catharine- Maybe switiching it back to 1-day event layou might help. Have multiple focused talk sessions in morning, lunch+poster together followed by afternoon workshops. Combining lunch with poster, might pack the poster session

Christian:If poster session is not well attended and laos ocnsidering poeple get a lot other chances to show their posters, remove the poster session altogether. Just keep more talks.

Roberta- Have a retreat next year to some off campus location, provided we can get sponsorship for that. That might be more enticing for postdocs.


NPAW thank you dinner (Virginie)- 30 people volunteered for NPAW. 20 of them attended the dinner.


Rise of hate (Ioana)- It was held at Cemex auditorium. It was a great turnout.


Upcoming events - Virginie:


Halloween event

Cal academy nightlife event

Winter Holiday event- dec 8/9


Discussion with MinorityPostdoc.org Editor- Dr.  Alberto Roca

He served on postdoc lleadership at Stanford for 10 years. He was one of the founding members of NPA. Now he runs his own non-profit - Minoritypostdco.org. He is a cocial entrepreneur. He offers two services-

  • Let postdocs practice their diversity skillls.

  • Help in faculty search committees

  • Help in graduate admissions

Work in SACness in Nova.

Minoritypostdco.org has the largest email database of minority postdocs in the nation. This helps university faculty search committee to recruit minority postdocs. In future he wants to build a minority graduate student database, that can act as a diversity pool for postdoc hiring.


He organized a Diverse Scholar Postdcotoral Conference in conjuction with University of houston postdoc organzation. Its focus was -

  • How can minority postdocs get a faculty job

  • Diversity discussions in the evening


He runs workshops on how to frame diversity statement. He also plans to run a formal certificate program. In the University of California system they have already started asking for a diversity statement. Postdocs are going to need help and guidance for that.


Clarice- She was able to find only 2 published articles on diversity statemnets. She asked if there  is a rubric for that.

As of now how they are judged is very opaque.


Small announcements

- More volunteers needed for halloween party

- Brian is to put up minority.org on SURPAS website



Meetng called to closure at 1pm by Anand