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Stowers Faculty EDGE Workshop prepares postdocs for the academic job market

The Faculty EDGE series is just one of many advantages of the postdoctoral training program at the Stowers Institute.

24 June 2024

Participants and Faculty at the 2023 Faculty EDGE Workshop

As a postdoctoral researcher in science, the next step in an academic career trajectory is a significant one, where many postdocs compete for a small number of positions as faculty members. While job hunting can be a stressful and uncertain time, the Stowers Institute’s annual Faculty EDGE series—including a Seminar Series leading up to the Workshop—is an immersive experience to help postdocs feel empowered and armed with confidence.

“The academic job market is highly competitive,” said Assistant Director of Postdoctoral Affairs and leader of Faculty EDGE Rashmi Raj, Ph.D. “The workshop ensures that postdocs’ application materials and interviewing skills are vetted both internally and externally, so they are prepared and confident when applying for faculty positions.”

“I feel extremely fortunate that the Institute organizes the Faculty EDGE Workshop to prepare us as we get ready to apply for independent research positions both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Postdoctoral Research Associate Ayantika Sen Gupta, Ph.D. “My participation last year helped me refine my research statement, and I received generous feedback from Stowers Investigators that helped crystallize the vision of my future lab.”

In 2023, Sen Gupta participated in the two-day interactive session designed to prepare postdocs for the faculty position application process. The workshop was originally established by Investigator Jerry Workman, Ph.D., and is now in its tenth year. To date, 33 postdocs have participated, and over 70% have successfully secured faculty positions.

Alice Accorsi, Ph.D., giving her research presentation during the Faculty EDGE Workshop. She is currently a faculty member at the University of California, Davis.

This year, six Stowers postdocs are participating, the largest cohort yet. The Faculty EDGE Workshop will be hosted twice over two days, July 11 – 12, and August 1 – 2, 2024.

During the first day, postdocs present their research seminars followed by discussion and feedback from external faculty with extensive experience on faculty search committees. The second day involves practice chalk talks—a crucial part of a faculty interview process where, with just a white board, each postdoc outlines their future research plans and highlights why they would be a good fit for that position.

“The external panel mock interviews were challenging but essential for preparing for high-pressure interviews,” said Sen Gupta.

As Faculty EDGE is a key component of career support through the postdoctoral training program, preparation for the workshop is supplemented with a Seminar Series, with four seminars hosted each week in May to help postdocs while they prepare faculty application materials ahead of the Workshop. This year’s seminars featured Associate Investigator Randal Halfmann, Ph.D., and Assistant Investigators’ Siva Sankari, Ph.D., and Ameya Mashruwala, Ph.D., who led “Writing a research statement,” “Writing a teaching statement,” and “Preparing a chalk talk,” respectively. The last seminar featured a Zoom panel with former Stowers postdocs as they discussed finding faculty positions in China. While senior postdocs preparing for the Workshop benefit from the sessions, junior postdocs are also encouraged to attend, providing them with an opportunity early on to gain the knowledge necessary for their future career paths.

The Faculty EDGE series is just one of many advantages of the postdoctoral training program at the Stowers Institute. The program includes unparalleled access to technology and resources, individualized mentorship and career support, and multiple opportunities for collaboration among fellow peers.

“I hope our postdocs remember how incredibly accomplished they already are and that the Stowers community is behind them, wishing for their success at every step,” said Raj.

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