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Environmental Factor, January 2012

NTA celebrates grand opening of resource room

By Ed Kang

Postdoctoral fellows enjoying a break.

Warm beverages, snacks, and, of course, fellowship mark the opening of the NTA resource room, which is now officially open for business. Shown, left to right, are postdoctoral fellows Tracy Clement, Ph.D., Hesse, Cavanaugh, Tammy Collins, Ph.D., and Ashley Godfrey, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Postdocs reviewing brochures and training materials.

Various brochures, training materials, and applications will now have a full-time home.  Formerly, these resources were housed in different offices throughout the Institute. Shown, left to right are Clement, Godfrey, and postdoctoral fellow Vijayakanth Pagadala, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

With a ceremonial coffee hour and open house Nov. 30, the NIEHS Trainees Assembly (NTA) proudly opened the doors to a new resource room that is specifically designed to accommodate the interests of the Institute’s 220-plus postdoctoral students and fellows. The grand opening was reason for celebration, as the NTA has long wanted a space that would perform triple duty as a resource room, a meeting space for committee meetings, and a private location for postdocs to rehearse and conduct interviews.

NIEHS research fellows have big plans for the modest-sized room that will support the goals of the NTA to organize and promote educational activities, including training courses and seminars. “It’s been a long time coming,” said former NTA Steering Committee co-chair Nisha Cavanaugh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the DNA Repair and Nucleic Acid Enzymology Group.  “This will be a convenient and central place for steering committee and subcommittee meetings.”

A central nexus for trainees

This sentiment was echoed by Sarah Swerdlow, Ph.D., a postdoctoral trainee in the Mechanisms of Mutation Group. “This is going to be very good for us. We’re in labs spread out across the Institute, so to have one place, just for us, is going to really enhance the postdoc experience.”

“We also have lots of stuff,” added Jill Hesse, Ph.D., referring to years of archived meeting notes, as well as current resources, contacts, and brochures. Hesse, who works in the Environmental Stress and Cancer Group, pointed to the benefits of having a common place for all these resources. “Now postdocs know right where to go for all their needs,” she said.

One example of the resource room’s benefit was provided by the NTA Steering Committee on the recent NIEHS Science Awards Day poster judging. “It was really important for the postdocs to see the feedback provided by the judging panel,” Cavanaugh commented. “The resource room provided an easy-to-access, central repository for those scoring sheets, so anyone, anytime could come and review their feedback.”

The new room also helps to fulfill another NTA goal of assisting postdocs in identifying and seeking future employment opportunities in both traditional and non-traditional career paths. Hesse noted that the privacy of the new space will be conducive for practicing or doing actual interviews, either in person or by phone. “It’s not practical to have these types of conversations at the bench or in a shared workspace.”

Hesse and others enthusiastically added, “We love Dr. Miller!” referring to David Miller, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology and former acting NIEHS scientific director. Miller’s ongoing support of the postdoc community and the efforts of the NTA enabled the use of the space, and provided the necessary furniture, phones, and data connectivity.

The NTA resource room is located in the F module of Building 101 in room F182.

(Ed Kang is a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)


Postdocs posing for a photo infront of the new resource room

The NTA-hosted coffee hour drew thirsty and curious postdocs to enjoy the new space for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)




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