Postdoc Cara Hamann explains her research to Iowa State Senator Tim Kraayenbrink.

For postdocs, by postdocs

Postdocs are a highly vulnerable population on any campus. As postdocs, we know that our temporary, hybrid appointment status creates gaps and blind spots around the needs of our community.

The Policy and Advocacy Committee is charged with monitoring both national and institutional policy as it relates to the postdoctoral community and advocating for our interests. It initiates and maintains relationships with other institutional agencies involved in policy-making processes that affect the postdoctoral community. To promote coordination, we consult with other UIPDA Committees, UIPDA College Representatives, and campus administrators and partnering units.

Current Focuses:

  • Assessing community-based challenges: our postdoc community is very diverse. We all require specific types of support and face unique challenges. Each year, UIPDA selects a postdoc sub-population with which to have listening sessions, form support networks with on campus units, and build resource documents.
    • 2020-2021 Spotlight on International Scholars.
    • 2021-2022 Spotlight on Postdoc Parents.
  • Improving UI postdoc metrics and tracking. Postdoc onboarding, evaluation, and transition to new positions are not closely tracked on campus. Postdocs are regularly excluded from surveys based on our temporary status. One of our major activities in 2020 was the design, administration, and analysis of our UIPDA postdoc survey. We are now widely distributing this data and using your responses to inform our own programming and advocate for campus-wide changes. Survey data may be requested by contacting Andrew Jezewski or Nicole Green.
  • Clarifying and improving postdoc benefits. Using the institutional data reports from the National Postdoc Association, we are looking to identify areas where UI needs to close the postdoc benefits gap. We are looking for postdocs to help us perform a benefits comparison across Big10 universities and the UI peer group (as defined in the Provost's Data Digest).
  • Expanding postdoc infrastructure and training opportunities. UIPDA is strongly recommending the establishment of a funded, centralized postdoc office. Postdocs are a currently unfunded mandate within our administrative home of the Graduate College. We regularly meet with campus leadership (Graduate College personnel, collegiate associate deans for graduate and post-graduate education, and OVPR leaders) to discuss opportunities for expanding postdoc training. Furthermore, our Vice President has a permanent position on the UI Research Council and our Past President Nicole Green served on the Research & Discovery Strategic Development team for the 2022-2027 Strategic Planning Process. Many postdoc leaders volunteer in a campus-wide postdoc working group that formed in Summer 2022.
  • Creating an online postdoc orientation course. UIPDA leaders are coordinating with various campus administrators to finally bring the postdoc orientation back in an online, easily accessible format. Stay tuned!
  • Speakers Bureau. After a wonderful PUI panel, one of our UI postdoc advocates Madeline Shea suggested we create a database of postdocs willing to give talks about research or career development to undergraduate classrooms. This database can be shared with local liberal arts colleges and faculty at PUIs. ***in development, coming soon***

Advocacy Resources: