Creating Connections and Rediscovering Joy: Insights from National Postdoc Appreciation Week

This blog is a guest post from UoE Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Brianna Vandrey, who is based at the Centre of Discovery Brain Sciences.  Bri provides an insight into the UK NPAW 2023 flagship event, that ran on the 18th September 2023, organised by Postdoc Futures, a UK network of Postdocs. 

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) is an annual celebration of postdocs that takes place in September. This week is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the value of postdocs to the university and celebrate the different roles that postdocs fulfil in research, teaching, and the wider academic community.  During NPAW, universities across the UK and ROI showcase and recognise their postdocs through a diverse range of events, awards programs, and social media campaigns. Since 2020, a key component of these celebrations has been a virtual live event that is supported by a consortium of UK and Irish Universities, including the University of Edinburgh.

This year, the theme of the event was ‘Creating Connections and Rediscovering Joy’. It aimed to unite postdocs from both the sciences and humanities, fostering a discussion around interdisciplinary communication, creating collaborative environments, and rediscovering the joy that drives researchers forward in any discipline. The event commenced with a comedy set by award-winning author and stand-up comic Dave Chawner, followed by a panel discussion chaired by Professor Ian Sabroe and Dr Dieter Declercq, hosts of the podcast ‘Conversations about Arts, Humanities and Health’. The panel featured three postdocs from different disciplines, including Dr Élaina Gauthier-Mamaril, an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh.

The panel featured rich discussion around how a postdoc is defined in different disciplines, strategies for managing pressure, the importance of mentorship, and how to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach in research. The session concluded with a discussion highlighting real experiences that bring joy to the academic lives of the postdocs in the panel, including knowledge generation and transfer, solving new puzzles, sparking curiosity, and making a difference to trainees, both big and small.

A full recording of the live event is available on the UK NPAW website, alongside an archive of virtual NPAW events since 2020.

About the organisers:

The virtual NPAW events are organised by Postdoc Futures, a UK network of postdocs that engages with stakeholders, universities, and institutions to put forward solutions to challenges that postdocs face. The group is always looking for passionate postdocs, and you can find more information and contact details on their website.

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