History and Mission of the Rutgers Postdoctoral Association
The first Postdoctoral Association (PDA) at Rutgers was actually not at Rutgers–it was formed at the University of Dentistry and Medicine of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2009 under the direction of Dr. Richard Nowakowski. The following year, Dr. Martha Soto picked up where Dr. Nowakowski left off, instituting monthly professional development luncheons for biomedical scientists and leading several postdocs in organizing an annual research symposium during National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Dr. Soto continued to advise the PDA after Rutgers and UMDNJ merged in 2013. The merger led to the creation of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), where the PDA was then housed.
In 2016, in preparation for the opening of a new university-wide Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), the PDA expanded its scope and dedicated itself to building a stronger and more cohesive postdoctoral community across all of Rutgers University, regardless of campus or department. The OPA, which opened February 3, 2017, supports postdoctoral researchers and their faculty mentors by providing a central hub for professional development opportunities, knowledge sharing, and community building. As such, the OPA organizes regular career development events for Rutgers postdocs. Dr. Itzamarie Chevere-Torres, the Associate Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, serves as the current advisor to the Rutgers Postdoctoral Association.
The PDA organizes a Postdoc Appreciation Symposium every year (2017 was the 8th annual symposium). This is the largest single event for postdocs at Rutgers, and also draws postdocs from all over New Jersey and nearby states – as well as graduate students who aspire to career advancement through having a postdoctoral appointment, and tenure-track/tenured faculty and staff at Rutgers who want to support and improve the postdoctoral experience. Additionally, in September 2016, the Rutgers PDA started a new tradition of hosting a Postdoc Appreciation Lunch during National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Furthermore, the PDA organizes career development and social events, and holds monthly meetings during the semesters.
The Postdoc Union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, works closely with the Postdoctoral Association (PDA). What's the difference between the two groups?
The PDA organizes career development and social events for postdocs, while the union is direct empowerment to make current postdoc appointments more secure and to negotiate improvements in the terms and conditions of employment. The union-negotiated Collective Agreement is a solid legal foundation underneath postdoc daily working conditions. Full union members are better informed about their employment rights and responsibilities and their membership ensures that the Postdoc Union continues to have legal standing to advocate for postdoc employment rights and benefits. The Postdoc Union is of, for, and by postdocs at Rutgers--while other faculty have similar self-representation in their respective bargaining units.
Postdocs are encouraged to join the union, changing the payroll deduction from the AAUP-AFT nonmember representation fee (required by New Jersey labor law) to full AAUP-AFT membership dues. Visit this page to learn more. If you're not sure if your position currently enjoys union representation, then contact the Postdoc Union at (732) 964-1000 and ask.
The current Postdoctoral Association (PDA) Officers are:
President: Csanad Gurdon, Department of Plant Biology (SEBS)
Vice President: Manjula Mummadisetti, Department of Marine & Coastal Sciences (SEBS)
Campus Activities Coordinator: Daniel Balouek-Thomert, Department of Computer Science (SAS)
Assistant Campus Activities Coordinator: Xue Mei, Waksman Institute of Microbiology
Communications Manager: Sofya Borinskaya, Department of Pathology (RWJMS)
Social Outreach Coordinator: Anthony DiFranzo, Department of Physics (SAS)
Assistant Social Outreach Coordinator: Tingting Chen, Department of Biochemistry & Microbiology (SEBS)
Dr. Csanad Gurdon, PDA President, may be contacted via email: gurdon_at_sebs.rutgers.edu.
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