The University of Iowa has established the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars to serve as a professional and administrative home that will promote and serve the community of postdoctoral scholars and fellows.
The office, a collaboration of the Graduate College and the Office of the Vice President for Research, will support postdoctoral scholars and their faculty mentors through activities involving recruitment, education, mentorship, and networking.
“We’re not only providing career development paths for the postdocs, but the office will also serve as a resource for mentors, faculty, and the programs on campus,” said Minnetta Gardinier, associate dean of the Graduate College, who oversees the office.
The UI employs approximately 300 postdoctoral scholars annually with about 60 percent trained in the Carver College of Medicine. These positions are limited to five years and are unique since these scholars aren’t classified as students, faculty, or staff.
Historically, at many universities, postdoctoral scholars were employed directly by the hiring faculty member with minimal involvement of other university offices. It is rapidly becoming the norm that these scholars receive a more comprehensive and much higher quality training experience. Nationally, the top research universities are establishing postdoctoral offices to serve this population on their campuses.
“Postdocs are individuals on campus who really don’t have a programmatic home, which can leave some a bit too isolated. So far, they’ve been without a formal office to more effectively serve them and to better meet their needs,” Gardinier said.
The UI Office of Postdoctoral Scholars intends to serve postdoctoral scholars by creating and fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between its office, the postdoctoral trainees, their faculty mentors, and their academic departments.
“Mentoring of postdoctoral scholars is critical for their future success and for the success of our overall research programs here at Iowa, and this office will fill a void that existed in this area,” said Jordan Cohen, UI’s vice president for research.
John Keller, Graduate College dean, said the Graduate College is pleased to partner with the Office of the Vice President for Research in this effort.
“The Graduate College hopes to offer valuable assistance and resources to our postdoctoral scholars as they transition into an important phase of their academic and research careers,” Keller said.
The Office of Postdoctoral Scholars plans to provide a variety of services to these scholars including a welcome and orientation, a postdoctoral scholars handbook, and a professional development seminar series.