JHPDA’S fifth annual postdoctoral retreat


The JHPDA held its fifth annual retreat on May 16th. The day-long event showcased research excellence by fellow postdocs, and served as a forum for dissemination of useful career advice from experts.

Dr. Ben Ho Park, Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs, set the tone for the day with a rousing introduction. This was followed by breakout sessions meant to help postdocs handle the rigors of academic life and prepare for life ahead. Dr. Kimberly Skarpuski (JHU School of Medicine) led an animated session, exhorting postdocs to cut down daunting writing assignments into bite-sized chunks. She stressed the importance of writing accountability groups (WAGs). Dr. Lucio Gama (JHU School of Medicine), spoke about the challenges faced by minorities in science.

The morning plenary speaker was Dr. Sara Sukumar, Professor at the Oncology department (JHU School of Medicine). She spoke movingly of her struggle to break through the ranks of academia as a female immigrant. Her talk was also peppered with practical advice to young scientists. The presentations were interspersed with poster sessions by postdocs.

The afternoon breakout sessions included a talk by Dr. Sharon Milgram (NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education) on how to become a resilient scientist and achieve some semblance of a work-life balance. Dr. Patti Anderson (JHU School of Medicine and JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health) addressed the mental health and wellness issues that often confront postdocs, and spoke of the resources available at JHU to those plagued by these issues. The afternoon plenary speaker, Dr. Phillip S. Clifford, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago, dispensed practical career advice that ran the gamut: networking, creating an independent development plan and how to set smart goals. This was followed by research presentations from postdocs deemed to have outstanding abstracts. In honor of the 125th anniversary of School of Medicine, JHPDA organized a screening of the critically acclaimed movie, “Something The Lord Made”.

Award winners included:

JHPDA Retreat Travel Award Winners

1st place poster Henry Hallock     $1000

2nd place poster: Brian Lin            $500

3rd place poster: Rheeda Ali         $250

1st place talk: Aditi Madan            $1000

2nd place talk: William Schmidt     $500

The organizers would like to thank all the speakers and sponsors.

Industry sponsors:


Thermo Fisher Scientific

Internal sponsors:

-Dr. Ben Ho Park, Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs (SOM)

-Dr. Patricia Davidson, Dean (SON)

-Dr. Valeria Culotta, Director of Postdoctoral Training (SPH)

-Dr. Beverly Wendland, Dean (Krieger School of Arts & Sciences)

-Dr. Ed Schlesinger, Dean (Whiting School of Engineering)

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