All posts by jenny chik

CAPS releases results of 2016 Canadian National Postdoc Survey


The Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS) has released the results of the 2016 Canadian National Postdoc Survey. 
Of the over 2,100 participants, 136 were affiliated with UBC, which was the highest number of any institution (way to go, UBC postdocs!).  Some key findings of the survey:

  • The proportion of international postdocs in Canada has decreased since 2013, and over half of international postdocs report difficulties with obtaining visas or work permits.  This suggests that Canada is becoming less competitive in its ability to attract international scholars.
  • Many postdocs lack access to benefits, with around 50% of postdocs in Canada having no access to Employment Insurance or the Canada Pension Plan.
  • The mean age of Canadian postdocs is 34, and the number of postdocs in the 35+ age group has increased substantially since the first Canadian Postdoc Survey in 2009.
  • Around 75% of postdocs reported negative thoughts, feelings, or issues related to mental health for a period of longer than one month.

In spite of the fact that many postdocs are now in their mid-30s or beyond, there is a widespread lack of access to government benefits that afford most other Canadian workers paid parental leave, employment insurance, and access to the Canada Pension Plan.  (Please note: at UBC all postdocs are eligible for paid maternity leave, but this is not the case at most Canadian universities.)  In addition, many postdocs are living far away from their support networks and dealing with stressful job situations, which may negatively impact their mental health.

To read more about the survey results, please visit the CAPS website:

Are you concerned about the status of postdocs in Canada and wondering how to take action?  Here are some ideas:

PDA Social: Escape Room

escape_roomLocked in a room – What would YOU do?

Join us for a real life escape game on Friday, 20 January at 6:10 pm at Locked Canada! Escape Room Experiences are 5D team games wherein you are locked in a room and forced to solve a mystery within 45 minutes. We’ve booked the theme “Crimson Room” for 6 players.

Cost: $18.70 per person (including tax). Please note that payment is required to secure your place. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, refunds will not be possible.

RSVP by Monday, 16 Jan. Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

Be on time, otherwise it will be deducted from our gaming time!

Please contact Jessica, if you have any questions.

UBC Postdoctoral Research showcased in 2016 PDA Research Day!

Written by: Houra Loghmani Khouzani, Alexander Smith and Jenny Chik

The UBC PDA Research Day 2016 was a resounding success! This annual event brings together postdocs from a wide range of disciplines to showcase their cutting edge research in a variety of projects at UBC. We had over 60 postdocs, faculty, staff, and students join us at the Life Sciences Institute for 6 postdoc oral presentations and the following poster session on November 24, 2016.

Our first speaker was Dr. Jenn Bossio from Obstetrics & Gynaecology, who presented a fascinating talk on “Innovations in sex therapy and mindfulness at UBC: Development of a novel treatment approach for couples dealing with sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment”. Dr. Bossio spoke about the effects of prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate), its effect on sex and relationships, and how her team uses couples-based therapy to increase sexual intimacy. Dr. Bossio was awarded the first prize for her excellent oral presentation.

The next speaker was Dr. Michael Irvine from Mathematics, who gave a great talk about “Linking models of infectious diseases to policy”. Dr. Irvine spoke about how disease modelling and web tools for policy-making were making an impact in the fight to eradicate a number of neglected tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis.

Dr. Esther Maas from the School of Population and Public Health (Partnership of Work, Health and Safety) then gave a very well received talk focused on the idea that “Return-to-work is not a single event”. The crux of Dr. Maas’ talk was how returning to work after suffering a musculoskeletal injury is a complicated process. Often times there are lingering issues that may necessitate modified work schedules or other shifts to accommodate workers.

This was followed up with a very engaging talk from Dr. Paula MacDowell, a postdoc in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy. Her talk was entitled “#GirlsHack@UBC”. Dr. MacDowell centred on how women are marginalized in the technology industry, despite gains made in other fields, and that girls are underrepresented in the ranks of technology creators and innovators. She concluded her talk with an interactive game allowing the audience to participate using an Internet connected device, which received much positive feedback.

Dr. Amir Sharafian gave the penultimate talk about “Using low-carbon fuels with minimum environmental impacts in transportation: Green solutions to mitigate climate change”. He won second place in the oral presentations for his captivating talk. He spoke about the importance of low carbon fuels and renewable energy sources. He concluded by noting that cattle farming is one of the worst sources of methane, so to save the plant we should all cut back on burgers!

We ended our presentations for the day with a talk from Dr. Alexander Weber from Pediatrics on “Diffusion Imaging Reveals White Matter Damage in Ice Hockey Players for Up To Two Months Post-Concussion”. Dr. Weber’s work is focused on traumatic brain injury seen in varsity hockey players, using different MRI interpretation techniques to better quantify the type, extent, and duration of brain injury following a concussion. He found that healing may not be complete 2 months post-concussion. Dr. Weber was the recipient of the third place award for his oral presentation.

Our talk presentations were judged by: Dr. Abby Collier, an Associate Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Leonard Foster, Professor and Interim Head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Dr. Emilie Lameignère, a Research Associate in the Centre for Blood Research. The judges evaluated each presentation on comprehension, communication, engagement, and visual aids.

dscf3558The fascinating presentations were followed by the poster session and reception. 6 judges evaluated nearly 15 posters. While all the posters were excellent and showcased the innovative projects happening at UBC, ultimately the poster/ presentation that scored the best on the criteria of: comprehension, engagement, delivery and visual quality were: Katharina Rothe from the department of Medicine Genetics, Mariya Cherkasova from the department of Neurology and Heidi Wolfmeier form Microbiology and Immunology. During the announcement for prizes and awards, light refreshments were made available as postdocs networked and discussed their research in a relaxed setting.

All and all, it was another successful event by the PDA and of course with the participation of all our presenters, attendees and judges. We would like to extend our special thanks to our judges (for the oral presentation and poster session) and to all the PDA members that dedicated their time to making this event a success!

UBC PDA Research Day: Full program and abstract book OUT NOW!

Register your attendance here.
Presentation of award winners will be at approximately 6 pm.

Program Schedule (updated)

1:30 pm – 2:10 pm   Registration
Please set up posters during this time

2:10 pm – 2:15 pm   Welcome to the 2016 UBC Postdoctoral Association Research Day – Dr . Alexander Smith, President UBC PDA

2:15 pm – 4:00 pm   Oral Presentations

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm    Poster Presentations and Reception

6:00 pm – 6:10 pm   Presentation of the Awards for the Best Oral and Poster Presentations

6:10 pm – 8:00 pm    Reception and Networking
Please ensure that all posters have been taken down by 8:00 PM

See you there!

PDA Whistler Trip is back February 2017 – book now! (UPDATE: Date changed!)


Join us for our annual trip to Whistler from 24-26 February 2017 (please note date change)! Network with your fellow postdocs, discuss your research, and whether you’d like to ski/snowboard/cross country, there will be something for everyone!

Cost for Friday & Saturday night’s accommodation: $115.00 per person (including light breakfast and tax)

Accommodation Details: The Alpine Lodge Hostel is located 4 km north of Whistler Village. The bus stop is just steps away and goes directly to Whistler Village. All rooms have mountain views and a balcony access. We have booked 2 rooms on the third floor, each furnished with a private bathroom.

RSVP now – deadline is Monday, 16 January. We have booked 8 beds (2 rooms, 4 beds per room). Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. Please note that payment is required to secure your place. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, refunds will not be possible. You can also organize your own accommodation, and we’ll meet you for the activities.

Transportation: Car pools are the cheapest option, so if you have a car and can fit a couple of people, please let us know. If we don’t have enough cars, we could rent cars or take public transportation – Greyhound or the Whistler Shuttle can be reasonably cheap when booked in advance.

Pass and equipment info: You are responsible for purchasing your ski pass and/or equipment rentals. If you purchase an Edge Card online 48 hours in advance, you can save some money. For more info see Discounted ski/snow board rentals are available at the Alpine Lodge. Check out the Whistler Blackcomb site for more information relating to passes, rentals, and lessons.

Please contact Jessica, if you have any questions.