January 2018

SURPAS council meeting

Jan31st, 11.30am-1pm

Lorry Lokey Stem Cell Building, G1161


Meeting Attendees:

Council Members:

Virginie Gabel, Arnaud Bruyas, Bradley Tolar, Daniel Joyce, Lise Retailleau, Roberta Sala, Catherine Tcheandjieu, Christian La, Mariapaola Sidoli, Jorik Van de Groep, Gina Bouchard, Saumyaa, Anand Rao, Sharon Greenblum, Iona Marin, John Hegarty



Kacie Deters, Natalie Nevarez, Debra Karhson, Isaac Kim, Aldo Cordova, Idil, Callie Willington, Li Zheng, Leonardo Tozzi, Marc Driessen, Aparna Sherlekar Banerjee, Pavlos Tsantilas, Diana Jeong, Nicole DeJesus, Aodhan Butler, Dakai Yang


Quorom: Yes, 15 council members present



Election for co-chair:

Lise Retailleau ran for election for co-chair position. Voting was performed by ballots.

Voting result:

14 yes and 1 abstain


Lise was successfully elected as new SURPAS co-chair with a majority vote in favor.



Discussion on take away message from PACPA (Provost advisory committee for postdoctoral affairs)-

Ioana: Patty Gumport suggested we should identify a list of priorities. If we have a fixed amount of money, what should we spent money on. Our door into administration is through Patty, OPA, Will Talbott. These people can help us make the smaller wins. Transitional housing could be one of the achievable goals.


Anand: Do we have postdoc representation from schools that are not SOM at PACPA?

Bradley: Earth sciences is moving in that direction

Roberta: Biology has Martha Cyert, who is part of PACPA (Provost advisory committee for postdoctoral affairs)

A big part of growth right now is happening in schools other than SOM. All the schools should have representatives.


Meeting was split into small groups for further discussion-

There are few focus areas that came up:

  • Housing/living cost

  • Diversity and inclusion- PRISM

Deb: PRISM should not fall under diversity

Nicole DeJesus: How does university define diversity and inclusion? She is on the diversity committee of her dept

·    Retirement plan

Daniel: Postdocs should get retirement benefits

·       Career development resources

Jesse: We should have a good quality of life. Postdocs come in with different career goals. Structure the resources better for career development.

Anand: he is working with Biosci Careers to do a 75/25 split program with industry internship for postdocs

·    Postdoc Families

Marc Driessen: Most people with families can’t attend most of the campus events. SURPAS did some events. But Stanford should pitch in for that.

·    Alumni network

Roberta: What is the status of that?

Anand: We have an event in September for postdoc alumni.

·    Housing

Kacie/Gina: There should be subsidies for housing for postdocs

·    Debt management

Deb: There should be academic debt bootcamp

·    Healthcare for family

John: It is rather expensive

Marc: It has improved recently

·    International housing

Lise: International students don’t have a credit history. Maybe Stanford can provide some document that puts them as a guarantor. That can greatly help international postdocs who move from another and have no credit history in US. Many landlords often ask for credit history to rent an apartment.

It is also hard to pay the security deposit and 1 month’s rent, all in your first month, sometimes before even your first paycheck. Some kind of loan program from Stanford, to help with that can be great.

Paola: Transitional housing

·       Fellowships for non US citizens

Idil: Most of the fellowships available are for US citizens. Stanford should start some fellowships for non US citizens

·       Tax help

Some event from OPA to help with filing taxes during tax season would be very helpful.

Jorik: Bechtel has a program

·       Benefits

Aodhan: A lot of issues come up because of the non-student status of postdocs. We don’t get both the employee benefits and the student benefits. Employees get retirement benefits, sports and wellness center benefits. He recently had to take wilderness center first aid class, but it was not free for postdocs. We don’t have access to Be Well program

Anand: He is in touch with be well program coordinators and is working on this matter


SURPAS Research symposium discussion:

Callie and Idil met Sofie, Will Talbot, Patty Gumport. The biggest idea that came out was with discussion with Sofie and Robin. It was to put symposium at the end of NPAW, like the grand finale. They had more specific ideas around it.


Attendee comments-

Roberta: Symposium was too broad. It lowers the attendance rate

Idil: We have thought about tweaking the format. The idea of this was to show entire spectra of postdoc research

Callie: We were trying to set a precedent for inclusion of people who are not in SOM.

Anand: We can try to increase faculty participation, invite other institutions.

Gina: Skip poster session.

OPA can be asked to give seed grant for a new collaborative idea coming out of the symposium!!!

Sharon: Have a symposium where postdocs talk about their research journey

Iona: Is OPA support tied to having the event at NPAW?

Callie: not necessarily

Bradley: In previous years OPA hasn’t really helped

Kacie: Teaching and outreach committee has some ideas

Idil: Hear journey of faculty members and their definition of postdocs

Deb: What is the goal of the postdoc symposium?

Callie: Goal of the postdoc is to showcase postdoc research and to promote collaboration

Nicole: poster location should be changed. She thinks all the talks were great.


Question: Should symposium be put at the end of NPAW?

Catherine: Its overwhelming

Roberta: finding volunteers is going to be a problem


Voting was done by show of hands-

Council members in favor: 5

Council members opposed: 12


Since the majority vote is against holding symposium at the end of NPAW, an alternative date will be set for it.


Discussion on Leadership Awards:

Idea: There should be some kind of awards to appreciate the postdocs who contribute a lot towards postdoc issues.

Potential name: Postdoc leadership award


Attendee comments-

Anand: Awards can be presented at the annual postdoc BBQ

Jesse and Deb: It should be a monetary award. There can be four $1k awards.

It doesn’t have to come from our budget. OPA or other people from administration can contribute towards it.

Gina: SURPAS should pay for one of the award too.


There can other forms of appreciation, like an ‘annual leadership transition dinner’ or an ‘annual SURPAS retreat’.

Anand: There can be a career fair exclusive to SURPAS council members.



Meeting was called to close at 1pm by Anand Rao.