Inaugural Postdoctoral Research Day is Set for Thursday

The first-ever University of Virginia Postdoctoral Research Day will be held Thursday from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Newcomb Hall.

Organized by the new University-wide Postdoctoral Association in conjunction with the new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the event is designed as an opportunity for U.Va. postdoctoral fellows in all disciplines to present their work and network with U.Va. scientists, administrators and potential employers.

The event will include oral presentations by selected U.Va. postdocs, a professional panel session, a keynote address and a poster presentation/networking reception.

“The Postdoctoral Research Day will allow our postdocs to present their research to the community at large and to showcase the scope, breadth and importance of the postdoctoral contribution to the University’s research enterprise,” said Laurence Frabotta, director of postdoctoral affairs in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The event is the brainchild of Mariette Barbier and Heath Damron, co-chairs of the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology Postdoctoral Association, which organized two years ago to bring postdocs together as a community.

Frabotta, who came to the University last year as the first director of postdoctoral affairs, has facilitated organization of the event. He acquired financial support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Medicine and the Curry School of Education and several academic departments.

“We put out a call for research submissions for the event and received 66 abstracts from across the University,” Frabotta said. “Of those, six were selected to give oral presentations at the symposium.”

A panel of experts from U.Va. and other organizations will present “A Day in the Life of …,” a discussion of the daily activities of scientists and professors in academic, industry and science policy careers.

The event will culminate with a poster/networking session, where abstracts will compete for awards. The first-place prize is a $1,000 travel award; second place is a $500 travel award, and third is a $200 gift card.

Crystal Icenhour, president and chief science officer of Charlottesville-based Phthisis Diagnostics, a biotechnology company, will present the keynote address at 3:45 p.m. in the Newcomb Hall ballroom. The poster session will be in the Kaleidoscope Room beginning at 4:30 p.m.

“Postdocs are often the most isolated population on a university campus,” Frabotta said. “My job is to help bring a sense of community by working with the postdoctoral association, and to help postdocs around Grounds take advantage of the resources available to them.”

He said his office serves as a new nexus for the University’s 350 or so postdoctoral fellows, “a place to find or be directed to resources at the University or elsewhere, for career and professional development advice, a place to seek funding opportunities, and to develop grant-writing skills.”

Frabotta said the postdoctoral stage of a researcher’s career can be one of the most rewarding time periods; a time to do unrestricted research without worrying about winning grants, a time to develop a niche and make new contributions and initiate career progression. With the new Office for Postdoctoral Affairs, postdocs will have greater opportunities to make good on this important point in their careers, he said.

Frabotta came to the University from the City University of New York, where he was director of postdoctoral development programs. He holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary genetics from Texas A&M University, and is a member of several organizations that have postdoctoral affairs as a key mission, including the Association of American Medical Colleges GREAT Group, the National Postdoctoral Association and the Graduate Career Consortium.

“The association memberships help me to evaluate our policies at U.Va., to compare our efforts to what is being done at other universities, and to increase our visibility as a research university with postdoctoral opportunities,” he said.

To see the full schedule for the event, click here.

Media Contact

Fariss Samarrai

University News Associate Office of University Communications