Postdoc Training Overview
Move to the front of your field
What can you accomplish with unrestricted access to technology, intense collaboration with expert scientists, and individualized mentorship and support?
Why do your postdoctoral research at the Stowers Institute?
Committed to the training and development of future scientific leaders, the Stowers Institute offers a rigorous, five-year Postdoctoral Training Program designed to prepare and position postdoctoral researchers for successful independent scientific careers.
The Institute’s strong tradition of valuing curiosity-driven science affords Stowers postdocs an unmatched range of research opportunities to ask bold questions and advance the fundamental knowledge critical for understanding the biological basis of both health and disease. Working in the lab of a highly distinguished Stowers investigator and guided by an individualized mentorship team, Stowers postdocs are expected to leverage the comprehensive and unparalleled support provided by the Institute to perform rigorous, impactful research at the forefront of their fields.
Technology & Resources
Empowered by rapid and unrestricted access to tools and technology leaders, Stowers postdocs can design and execute multidisciplinary research at an unparalleled pace and scale.
Labs and Technology Centers
The Stowers Institute is a technologically advanced biomedical research facility that houses 17 Investigator Laboratories and 16 Technology Centers that support scientific research. Postdocs have immediate and unrestricted access to equipment, expertise, training, and resources.
Library and Research Resources
The Institute’s on-site Library provides electronic access to more than 300 life science journals plus additional journals and books available upon request. It also provides resources for citation monitoring and tracking as well as access to various patents, methods, and protocols databases. The Cube, an on-site scientific stockroom, provides around-the-clock access to over 700 commonly used lab supplies and reagents. Additionally, it provides researchers opportunities to learn about and try new products and engage directly with vendors.
The Stowers Institute fosters proactive interactions between incoming postdocs and technology experts. New postdocs are introduced to the abundant technological approaches and centers shortly after joining the program, through the TechnologyEDGE symposium.
At this semi-annual event, postdocs spend the morning listening to talks from each of the Technology Centers and mingling with experts from these teams. The day continues with talks showcasing state-of-the-art, innovative capabilities, success stories and suggested workflows from current and past postdocs. This symposium occurs within the first 6 months of a postdoc’s appointment, fostering early discussions and explorations about how Technology Centers can help accelerate a postdoc’s research progress.
New postdocs can present chalk talks, arrange for one-on-one meetings with Technology Center scientists to talk through their project ideas, and continue their interactions through a series of monthly, focused seminars from each of the Technology Centers. The TechnologyEDGE symposium is an opportunity to catalyze projects, expedite productivity and accelerate interdisciplinarity and research progress. Technology Center faculty are available as informal and formal mentors to postdocs as well.
Postdoctoral mentoring at the Stowers Institute is a distributive process, allowing postdocs to take advantage of the talent and experience of many people throughout their training.
The Stowers Institute has over 40 scientific faculty who are accessible to incoming postdocs as additional mentors in their postdoctoral training. Stowers faculty have minimal administrative responsibilities and postdocs benefit from their increased accessibility, with more opportunities for mentoring interactions. Together with advice from their primary mentor, Stowers postdocs are invited to assemble a mentoring team comprised of 2-3 additional faculty and Technology Center co-mentors, thus allowing scientific and professional advising through frequent informal interactions and formal meetings.
Formal Mentoring Interactions
Postdocs benefit from a comparatively small research campus populated with a collegial fellowship of scientists and spaces designed with the intent to foster and promote those informal exchanges of ideas that are critical for scientific discovery. In addition to abundant opportunities to informally seek guidance and support from their mentors, Stowers postdocs formally meet with their primary mentor annually and typically convene their Mentoring Team at the close of their 2nd and 4th year of training.
Meetings of the Mentoring Team include a presentation by the postdoc of their research progress or occur immediately following a formal presentation such as Friday Science Club. Subsequent discussion will include assessment of the postdoc’s research progress and skill-building, plans for fellowship and career development award applications, and strategies for optimizing the postdoc’s success. With the assistance of an Individual Development Plan (IDP), Stowers postdocs benefit from regular, guided discussions about career goals and strategies for success.
Stowers postdocs have access to resources and tools needed for their scientific, professional, and personal development.
Conceptual knowledge and skills
Over the course of their training, postdocs will broaden the depth and breadth of their conceptual knowledge and expertise of searching and interpreting literature, design of scientifically testable hypotheses, and interpretation and analysis of data. Stowers postdocs are encouraged to attend conferences, symposia, and courses to deepen their knowledge across a wide range of disciplines and further develop their ability to think critically about the literature through regular journal clubs and discussions with mentors and lab mates. Stowers postdocs also develop knowledge across diverse disciplines through multiple internal seminars.
Through training at the Stowers Institute, postdocs develop their research skills in experimental design, laboratory techniques, effective interpretation of data, statistical analysis, and computational methods. Stowers postdocs have immediate and unrestricted access to Technology Centers to broaden their skills in the use and innovation of advanced technology across many disciplines. Connections with Technology Centers are forged early through TechnologyEDGE and continue from experimental inception to execution, analysis and interpretation, rapidly accelerating the postdoc’s research progress.
Stowers postdocs have opportunities to work closely with Technology Center scientists on technology innovation, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation. Further, the relatively small size of the Stowers Institute campus and effective design of research and gathering spaces make it a natural environment for connection among Stowers scientists. The culture of collaboration at the Stowers Institute promotes rapid research progress and a broadening of the depth and breadth of the postdoc’s research skills.
Stowers postdocs are encouraged to develop a well-rounded skill set to position them for success at the Institute and in their future independent position. Stowers postdocs have access to opportunities to develop their science communication, leadership and management, mentorship, grant and fellowship-writing, teaching, and career navigation skills. The Postdoc Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an excellent tool to help the postdoc and their mentors assess their strengths and weaknesses and integrate Stowers Institute professional development opportunities into their strategy for success. Postdocs can take advantage of professional and career development opportunities through institutional programs such as Crossroads career development organization, Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Seminars and Workshops Series, and the Research Development Support team. Postdocs interested in receiving teaching training can participate in the annual, semester-long course “Teaching in Higher Education”. Postdocs also have access to professional and career development skill building through Stowers' membership with the regional BioKansas organization.
The Stowers Institute is committed to supporting the holistic wellbeing of its members. Through the Stowers InBalance program, postdocs have access to resources to promote their physical, social, financial, and community wellbeing.
The Stowers Connection program is focused on supporting the mental wellbeing of graduate and postdoctoral trainees in science. Through creating awareness of mental health, providing mental health first-aid training, various mindfulness and stress-relieving offerings, and seminars on recognizing and dealing with mental health issues, postdocs can benefit from an environment that promotes mental health. Postdocs also have access to individual counseling through Stowers Employee Assistance Program, LifeWise.
Stowers postdocs who take advantage of the Institute’s unique research environment are positioned with expansive skills and a record of rapid productivity to successfully compete for professional positions.
Individual Development Plans (IDPs)
While Stowers postdocs are expected to take ownership of their own career, access to abundant tools, resources, and guidance allows postdocs to successfully navigate their postdoctoral years and transition to professional positions.
At the Stowers Institute, IDPs are a tool used to help set goals and milestones, evaluate progress, and develop and modify plans to obtain the necessary skills and credentials needed for a postdoc to excel in their chosen scientific career. IDPs include a self-assessment, defining of career goals, a progress summary, and an individualized action plan and objectives for achieving success. An annual meeting of the mentor and postdoc and a biennial meeting of the Mentoring Team includes review of progress and updating of the postdoc’s customized IDP. Postdocs are expected to develop a thoughtful, reflective, and honest IDP, and revisit it frequently during their training.
Stowers IDPs are tailored to the postdoc’s stage of training. Generally, the Initial IDP is completed shortly after joining the program, with the Annual IDP being completed at the end of Years 1, 2 and 3. The Initial IDP is completed shortly after joining the program. The Annual IDP is completed at the end of Years 1, 2 and 3. At the end of Year 4, postdocs complete the Final IDP. Each IDP covers the same major areas of planning with questions unique to each phase of training. These areas include Career Goals, Research Assessment, Research Objectives, Mentorship, Personal Development, Skills Assessment, and Action Plan. The Final IDP also focuses heavily on plans for a job search.
Mock Faculty Search Group
Stowers postdocs can participate in an annual Mock Faculty Search Group, an exercise that includes a practice research seminar and chalk talk before a panel of invited faculty from other institutions who have recently participated in faculty searches. This process aims to familiarize candidates with the process of conducting an investigator job search and receive valuable feedback on their job talks and interviews.
Career Navigation Skills
Postdocs have access to career exploration, networking, CV, and resume-writing, and interviewing resources through the Stowers Crossroads and BioKansas career development programming. Additionally, the Stowers Research Development Support Team offers individualized assistance in finding competitive funding opportunities and guidance for the preparation, submission, and post-award administration of grant and fellowship applications.
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“The experience and training at the Stowers Institute provided far-reaching significance for my career and vision. The whole Institute was organized systematically to make individual research better. What we focused on first and foremost was doing great science and making the Institute a better place.”
Principal Investigator, Westlake University, China
A collegial community of fellow scientists and support staff
The Stowers Institute is an environment where diverse experiences and perspectives are valued. Postdocs can connect within and across varying disciplines, interests, cultures, and lifestyles.