Welcome from the new President

It is my great pleasure to once again take over as President of the UBC Postdoctoral Association (PDA). The previous executive has left the association in great shape, with our outgoing President, Dr. Kieran Hudson, having secured a greatly increased annual budget from the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies and the Vice President, Academic. This will allow the association to continue to put on, and improve our various events and socials. Kieran’s leadership has greatly improved the association as a whole, and I am to continue on from where he has left off.

I have been involved in the executive since 2015, first on the executive team, then as the UBC PDA President during the 2016-2017 year. Over the past year, I once again served as a member of the PDA executive committee, helping to plan and execute our events. I also have tried to attend the PDA’s social events whenever possible, which has allowed me to meet many other postdocs from across campus. It is my hope that we will continue to see great turnouts at the 3 minute postdoc slam, research day, and all our other events.

On behalf of all UBC postdoctoral fellows, I would like to extend many thanks to the other outgoing PDA officers – Kieran Hudson (President), Mehrdad Bokharaei (VP Operations), Moe Elgendi (VP External), Ido Hatam (VP Communications),  Jürgen Niesser (VP Finance), and Jessica Bosch (VP Social). It has been an honour working with each of you over this past year. I’d also like to thank all the other members of the executive committee. Their input and assistance with putting on the PDA events was invaluable.

Now I would like to welcome our new officers! Andrew Hagner (Michael Smith Labs) will take over VP Operations, Fiona Zhang (Urologic Science) for VP External, Noriko Okamoto (Botany) for VP Communications, Chris Rider (Medicine) for VP Finance, and Ido Hatam (Chemical and Biological Engineering) for VP Social. I would also like to extend a big thank you to all those on the previous PDA executive team that have expressed interest in continuing to be involved in the PDA. I am excited to work with everyone, and I anticipate a fun, and productive year ahead!

Finally, I would like to invite and encourage all of you to join the PDA executive committee as a volunteer. Membership in the PDA is open to all UBC fellows and associates, and all members of the executive team are invited to attend the PDA officers’ meetings, share ideas, get involved in planning and organizing our events, and advocate for postdoctoral fellows and associates at UBC. Please contact us if you want to be involved!

Alexander Smith, PhD
President, UBC Postdoctoral Association

Welcome to the 2018/19 PDA executive

The PDA’s new 2018\19 Executive Team was elected at the 2018 AGM held on Wed, March 14th at the Life Sciences Institute, following a brief recap of the previous year from each of the outgoing Executive Officers.

Kieran, the outgoing president started things off with a brief overview of some of our past events, and the recently agreed increase to the PDA funding. Highlights included:

Kieran also gave a quick overview of the role and activities of the outgoing VP Operations,  Mehrdad Bokharaei, VP External Moe Elgendi, and VP Finance Jürgen Niesser. The latter included more detail of the increase in budget as well as the current state of the PDA budget and PDA expenditure for 2017/18.  Ido Hatam, the outgoing VP Communications discussed his role, including our increased reach with postdocs through more newsletter subscriptions and a great social media presence. Finally, Jessica Bosch the outgoing VP Social shared some of the great events she organized.

Next, the Association voted unanimously to adopt the previously proposed amendments to the Constitution and new Bylaws, with modifications to two of the Bylaws, which now read:

  • Bylaw 5.6: A quorum at a General Meeting is ten Association Members, including at least half of Officers.
  • Bylaw 7.6: RA Association Members may only serve as Vice-President Communications, Vice-President Social, or Vice-President Research Associates.

The newly adopted Association Constitution and Bylaws can be viewed online.

We then opened the floor for nominations for each of the Officer positions. Following the election, the 2018-2019 PDA Officers are:

  • President – Alex Smith (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences)
  • VP Operations – Andrew Hagner (Michael Smith Laboratories)
  • VP External – Fiona Zhang (Department of Urologic Science)
  • VP Communications – Noriko Okamoto (Department of Botany)
  • VP Finance – Chris Rider (Faculty of Medicine)
  • VP Social – Ido Hatam (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)

The new team will officially take over from April 1, 2018, with the remainder of March used to facilitate a smooth transition.

We strongly encourage people to get involved with the PDA! There are lots of great people and fun to be had in planning our events. Contact us to join the executive team!

Amendments to the constitution

The UBC PDA is updating the association’s constitution, changing it to account for the growth of the association and it’s activities.
The amendments to the constitution better defines the roles of each of the officers and the committee members, as well as a set of bylaws that will help govern the association.

We encourage all postdocs and RAs to review the proposed changes, and send us an email with thoughts, concerns, or suggestions.  

The constitutional amendments will be voted on during the next AGM, which will take place at the LSI room 1330, March 14th- 5:00 PM.

New funding for the PDA

We are very pleased to announce that we have secured a major new funding agreement with UBC that will allow the PDA to greatly increase its activities going forward.

The Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies and the Vice President, Academic have both agreed to contribute to the PDA on an annual basis. Before this, we relied on funding from just one UBC institute, the LSI, which has backed us from the beginning. Their continuing support combined with the new funding means the PDA budget will be 3 times bigger from this year!

This will allow us to offer our members – all UBC postdocs – much more in terms of research and social events, while continuing to be an independent voice advocating for postdoctoral researchers at UBC and beyond.

The new funding will mean:

  • Continuing the expanded, full-day format for the annual Postdoc Research Day
  • Subsidised postdoc socials every two weeks – no more worrying about expensive activities or full-price hockey tickets
  • a PDA welcome lunch for new postdocs after PDFO orientations
  • enabling PDA officers to travel to represent UBC postdocs at national conferences, such as the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars annual meeting
  • further development of our new relationship with the UBC careers service
  • and much more!

Do you have ideas about how we can use our new funds? Our purpose is to work for you! Let us know by getting in touch, or shape the future of the PDA by joining the Executive Committee.

The PDA Annual General Meeting is coming up next month, so come along to hear our plans. If you really want to make a difference and gain some great skills along the way, you can stand for an Officer position.

Call for Nominations: 2018/19 PDA Executive Officers

ciWe are excited to announce the call for nominations for candidates to be part of the UBC Postdoctoral Association’s 2018/19 Executive Team.

Deadline extended! Apply by Monday March 12th

  • Represent the postdoc community
  • Gain leadership and management experience
  • Organize professional development, research and networking events
  • Interact with big-name academics, advocates, and UBC leadership

The PDA is run by Elected Volunteer Officers (the President and 6 Vice-Presidents). All 7 positions will be elected for the 2018/19 year at our Annual General Meeting, held on Wednesday, March 14th in LSC room 1330 (5 pm). Find a list of open positions and a description of their roles below.

All UBC postdocs and research associates are encouraged to attend the AGM on March 14th for the elections. The event will be followed by a celebration with food and drinks!

Self-Nomination: Download the UBC PDA nomination form here. Please fill out this form and return it to ubc.postdoc@gmail.com along with a recent photo and a short Letter of Interest (100-200 words) detailing why you would like to serve and any relevant experience.

Further details

Continue reading

UBC PDA Annual General Meeting 2018- March 14th

Your vote counts! Join us as we elect the new PDA Executive Committee for the upcoming year, and vote on any amendments to the PDA Constitution on Wednesday,  March 14th at 5:00 pm at the Life Sciences Institute (LSI), Room 1330. No RSVP required.

The event will commence with reports from the outgoing PDA Executive Committee followed by short introductions of the new nominees, after which you can place your vote. We will then vote on any proposed amendments to the PDA constitution, and will conclude the event with a light reception furnished with complimentary snacks and refreshments to welcome the new committee members.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

PDA Social Event: UBC & SFU Meet & Greet

Let’s meet with SFU postdocs on Thursday, March 1, at 7:00pm in Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar (Gastown). RSVP to Jessica if you plan to come

PDA Social Event: Curling

Join us for some Canadian Curling on Saturday, March 31 at 1:15 pm at the  Vancouver Curling Club.
Cost: This event is FREE! (funded by the UBC PDA.)

The event will  includes:

  • One sheet of ice for two hours
  • All necessary equipment for curling (please wear running shoes)
  • A coach for two hours

RSVP to Jessica by ASAP to secure your spot. Places will be based on a first come first serve basis. Feel free to register for a friend as well.


Research Day 2017 Report

Postdoc Research Day was bigger and better than ever! For the first time, there was a whole day of research presentations, professional development, and networking opportunities. Over 100 postdocs, students, faculty, and industry representatives came together to celebrate the amazing research being carried out by postdoctoral researchers across UBC’s Faculties and Institutions.

PDRD 2017-3.jpg

Also a first, this year’s event was held in larger facilities in the Pharmaceutical Sciences building, thanks to the generous support of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. There were twelve 15 minute talks and plenty of posters presented by postdocs and research associates, as well as a keynote lecture from Dr. Lori Brotto, and a careers panel featuring former postdocs now working in various positions in industry and academia.

Check out the program and abstract book for the day.

PDRD 2017-2.jpg

Kieran, PDA President, opened the day with an introduction to the Postdoctoral Association before Susan Porter, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, spoke about the value of postdoctoral researchers at UBC. There were then two sessions of 15-minute research presentations from postdocs in areas ranging from anthropology to computer science. The morning finished with a  5-minute advocacy update about the PDA’s campaign to build awareness of #SupportTheReport – and what you can do to help out Canadian Science!

Poster session 2

During lunch, the first poster session took place in the atrium, before Dr. Lori Brotto gave her keynote lecture. She outlined her impressive research program, and her path from postdoc to Director of UBC’s Sexual Health Laboratory. This was followed by four more research presentations from postdocs and the second poster session over coffee.

PDRD 2017-21.jpg

The careers panel concluded the day, featuring former postdocs who have taken various career paths in Vancouver. They shared their extremely valuable insights into translating the skills gained during postdoctoral work to jobs in and out of academia. The conversation continued late into the evening over pizza and sushi at the networking social held after the event.

The networking reception

All of the talks and poster presentations were judged by a team of faculty, postdocs, and industry representatives throughout the day. All of the presenters did a great job and both competitions were extremely close – you can see the list of winners below.

The UBC PDA Executive Team would like to congratulate all of the winners, thank all the participants for making this an excellent event, and thank all of the judges and the audience for supporting us. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves, and look forward to seeing you at future UBC PDA events!

Find more photos of the event here.

The winners:


1st Place ($150) – Paul Pickell (Forestry)
2nd Place ($100) – Catherine Jutzeler (Kinesiology)
3rd Place ($50) – Sophie Stukas (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine)
People’s Choice ($50) – Jordan Burke (Forestry)


1st Place ($75) – Rahul Sachdeva (ICORD)
2nd Place ($50) – Mohammad Fazel Bakhsheshi (Mechanical Engineering)
3rd Place ($25) – Ryan Melnyk (Microbiology & Immunology)

We are extremely grateful to our sponsors who made this event possible.
Association Sponsor:

Event Sponsors:

#SupportTheReport for Budget 2018

Give your feedback to the Government of Canada on #YourBudget2018 and support science!

Earlier this year, the Fundamental Science Review released its report on how to enhance non-governmental research in Canada (more information here). The key recommendations included:

  • improve coordination between federal granting agencies through the creation of a National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation
  • prioritize equity and diversity in recruitment and hiring
  • substantially increase federal research funding (by ~30%), with an increased proportion of total funds directed toward independent investigator-initiated research

Although the Government of Canada has made progress on implementing some of these recommendations (e.g., by appointing Dr. Mona Nemer as Chief Science Advisor), and despite big campaigns from universities, advocacy groups, and students, there has been no commitment to increase research funding by a meaningful amount.

This is a crucial time, as the Government nears the end of its public consultation for Budget 2018.

What can you do to support Canadian research?

  1. Complete the Government of Canada’s #YourBudget2018 surveySurvey #2 (Economy of Tomorrow) includes direct questions related to research funding. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete and closes on Dec 15.
  2. Join the conversation about #YourBudget2018 on social media – you can reach Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Twitter @Bill_Morneau. Find social media tips here.
  3. Write to your MP to encourage him/her to support full implementation of the Naylor Report. Find letter writing tips here.