Queen's University

Post-doc recognition day: Saying thanks to the "engine of research"

Vinay Singh, co-founder of the Queen's University Post-Doctoral Fellows Association.

Queen’s post-doctoral fellows will bask in the warm glow of appreciation – and have the opportunity to bend the ears of the administration – as Queen’s celebrates its second annual Post-doc Appreciation Day on Friday, September 24.

For Vinay Singh (Biochemistry) and Brian Coe (Centre for Neuroscience Studies), the day marks a personal success.

The founders of the Queen's University Post-Doctoral Fellows Association (QPFA) have been working hard to create a voice for post-docs at the university. When Dr. Singh arrived in Canada in 2001, ready for new challenges as a freshly recruited post-doctoral fellow, he quickly realized there wasn’t anything in place.

“There was a real lack of formalization,” Dr. Singh says. “It was hard to get information.”

Dr. Singh was determined to change that. He started asking questions, talking to fellow post-docs and members of the university administration. “Everyone said, ‘Yeah, I know. But what should we do?’ Everyone thought it was a good idea, but no one was responsible.”

That has certainly changed. The association got things rolling and the university got behind them. The university provided space and funding and the association’s founders supplied the experience and awareness. Now every post-doctoral fellow arriving at Queen’s receives a welcome and information package developed by Dr. Singh and his colleagues and access to a number of support and funding programs designed to assist with the demands of the post-doc experience.

“Post-docs are the engine that drives research,” says Ingrid Johnsrude (Psychology), Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. “Researchers rely on post-docs to push the envelope. This is a very productive period in a researcher’s career. It is the first real opportunity to become more autonomous.”

Agnes Alsius and Ewen MacDonald agree. Both are working as post-docs in the lab of Kevin Munhall (Psychology).

“We’re developing skills, supervising grad students, branching out,” says Dr. MacDonald, a graduate of the University of Toronto.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” says Dr. Alsius. “I am getting exposure to techniques I did not have access to in Spain.” Dr. Alsius completed her doctoral studies at the University of Barcelona and looked to post-doc opportunities as a means of broadening her horizons.

Dr. Johnsrude says she continues to draw on the network of friends and colleagues she developed during her own time as a post-doctoral fellow. She says post-doc experiences can be very enriching, “as long as it’s the right place.”

Dr. Singh agrees, and he is determined that Queen’s be that “right place” for as many post-docs as possible. “Our whole goal is to make Queen’s an attractive place as possible,” he says.

The second annual post-doctoral appreciation lunch and open house gets underway at noon on Friday, September 24, at the QPFA offices at 172 Barrie Street. Susan Cole, Deputy Provost, and Brian Bennett, Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, will be on hand to say hello and extend their thanks to all Queen’s post-doctoral fellows.

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Last updated at 4:14 pm EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
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