New grad studies office helps post-docs thrive
By Wanda Praamsma, Communications Officer
Originally from Germany, Rebecca Hügler knows what it’s like to arrive at a new university in a new city and a new country. She first came to Queen’s in 2007 as an exchange student from Universität Karlsruhe and later returned to do her PhD in German studies with Jill Scott.
“I found the environment very supportive but the academic culture in Germany is more formal than in Canada, and I had to figure out how best to communicate with academics here,” says Dr. Hügler. “On top of that, you are also navigating the personal side of things, finding supportive peer groups and social opportunities.”
Finishing her doctorate last year, Dr. Hügler is now settled in Kingston and is using her adaptation skills and international background to help other academics transition into life at Queen’s. As the inaugural co-ordinator of the new Office of Post-Doctoral Training in the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), Dr. Hügler is responsible for supporting post-doctoral researchers who are currently at Queen’s or are considering Queen’s as a research destination.
“Queen’s has about 200 post-docs on campus and approximately half have international backgrounds. Many of them are also older, with partners and families,” she says. “With this new office and my position, we want to build a support network for them and give them the resources they need to have a successful experience at Queen’s.”
Post-doctoral researchers are academics who have recently completed their PhDs and are looking to gain research experience in a new environment, often in a different country. Fellowships are generally considered a natural stepping stone into the academic career.
“These researchers are only here for a few years and we want them to get the most out of their time on campus,” says Dr. Hügler, who began her new position in February. “I am developing a comprehensive orientation package for them and will be offering many resources for professional development, including facilitating workshops on topics such as grant writing and searching for jobs, both academic and in industry.”
In her new role, Dr. Hügler will consult with post-docs to identify what supports and services are most needed and how best to meet those needs. She stresses that her office welcomes input into her new role. Over the next few months, she will be conducting focus groups to gain as much insight into what post-docs need to thrive at Queen’s.
“Post-doctoral fellows have indicated that they want professional and skills development opportunities to complement their research training,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “Locating responsibility in the School of Graduate Studies allows us to take advantage of their collective knowledge and expand our offerings to meet the needs of this unique group.”
Dr. Hügler welcomes feedback from current Queen’s post-docs and researchers who may be interested in working at Queen’s. She can be reached at email@example.com
A website for the Office of Post-Doctoral Training will be available in the summer. Communications will provide the link when it becomes available.