Students Classroom

Office of Postdoctoral Education

Office of Postdoctoral Education Events

Spotlight on Science (SOS)

SOS is a professional and career development seminar series for postdocs and graduate students that has been going on for over a decade. SOS meets every other Monday from 12-1 p.m. The SOS Committee consists of graduate students, postdocs and members of the Postdoc Office and Graduate School. The committee meets quarterly to discuss potential topics of interest for the Spotlight on Science seminar series. Each committee member has the opportunity to brainstorm SOS topics and bring new ideas to the series. They also get the opportunity to build their network by recruiting speakers. If you are interested in joining, please contact Amanda Booker (
October 2021

October 2021

October 25, 2021
Time: 12:00-2:00 pm
Speaker: TBA
Topic: Responsible Conduct of Research: The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research.
Passcode: 2P5FUFfD

Join Zoom Meeting
July 2021

July 2021

July 12, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Brian Link
Topic: Pros and Cons of Preprints
Passcode: q48N*rxd

June 2021

June 2021

June 28, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Nai-Fen Su
Topic: Smart Job Search for Biomedical Sciences (PDF)

Big Interview provide interview learning modules, video interview questions and recording, and resume builder, feel tree to use your MCW email to register an account and access it.

Salary Search Websites:

UMass-Job Search Tips:

Zippia: Job/skills/salary information, etc.

June 14, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Adedeji Badiru
Topic: Project Management for Scholarly Research & Innovation
Passcode: 03Z5G+&K

May 2021

May 2021

May 24, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Michaela Patterson
Topic: A Roadmap to an Array of Academic Positions (Video)
Passcode: +3uqscM1

May 10, 2021
Speaker: Claire Becker
Topic: Career Coaching

April 2021

April 2021

April 26, 2021
Speakers: Dr. Ryan Spellecy and Dr. Chris Starwski
Topic: RCR Refresher - Mentoring

April 12, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Himanshu Agrawal and Chandler McElrath
Topic: “Just Work it Off”

February 2021

February 2021

February 8, 2021
Speaker: Dr. Jessica Olson
Topic: Paths Less traveled: Exploring scientific careers outside of traditional trajectories

February 22, 2021
Speaker: Jeff Amundson
Topic: Transformation of a Farmer to an RO1 Scientist to an Educator (Video)

Event Archive

2020 Spotlight on Science Archives

January 27, 2020
Speaker: Francis Mann, PhD; Assistant Professor, UW-Parkside
Topic: Getting a Job in Academia (Video)

February 10, 2020
Speaker: Kate Rodgers
Topic: LinkedIn (Video)

February 24, 2020

Speakers: Ashley Ciecko, Kaitlin Johnson, Dr. Katie Litts, and Dr. Kate Sadler
Topic: Fellowship on learning to write NIH pre and post doc fellowships (Video)

March 9, 2020
Speaker: Ericka Mendez, PMP
Topic: Project Management (Video)

June 22, 2020
Topic: RCR Refresher (Video)

September 28, 2020
Speaker: Javier Gomez Vargas, PhD
Topic: Catalyst Bioconsulting Recruitment Pitch

October 12, 2020
Speakers: Kevin Boggs, Dr. Michael Lawlor and Matthew Richter
Topic: RCR Refresher: Conflict of Interest

November 9, 2020
Speaker: Peggy Vorwald, PhD
Topic: How to Talk Science and Influence the World (Video) | Presentation handout (PPTX)

November 23, 2020
Speaker: Dr. Teresa Patitucci
Topic: Road to Becoming a Professional Anatomy Educator

December 14, 2020
Speaker: Nathan Berken, Director of Government Relations
Topic: MCW Office of Government and Community Relations

2019 Spotlight on Science Archives

April 4, 2019
Speakers: Drs. Kenneth Allen, DVM, DACLAM and Joseph Thulin, DVM, MS, DACLAM
Topic: RCR training: Animal Research and the IACUC (PDF)
This session satisfies your annual RCR training requirement.

October 28, 2019
Speaker: Dr. Cynthia Steele, PhD
Topic: Medical Writer After PhD (Video)

November 11, 2019
Speaker: Mary Irzyk, OTR, CSPHP
Topic: Spotlight on Wellness
No video available

December 9, 2019
Speaker: Dr. Jay Goldberg, PhD, PE
Topic: Working in a Clinical Setting without being a Clinician (Video)

2018 Spotlight on Science Archives

February 12, 2018
Speaker: Elizabeth (Liz) Suelzer, MLIS, User Education/Reference Librarian
Topic: Information overload: harnessing library resources in the Information Age (Video) | Presentation handout (PPTX)
Session Description: Discuss strategies for organizing information sources.

Learning Objectives: Identify challenges to finding good information; Learn how to more effectively use information resources; Refresh your PubMed search skills

February 16, 2018

Topic: Early-Stage Retirement Planning (live stream/recording)
Summary: Figuring out how to make "cents" of retirement planning at the beginning of your career can be a daunting challenge. We attempt to ease students' concerns by focusing on the small actions they can take right now to make a big difference in the long-run.
Objectives/Takeaways: Describing the type of retirement savings options available to the post-doc and grad student population; Exploring ways to begin the retirement budgeting process even in the smallest of ways; Once the savings cycle has begun, having a high-level conversation of the investment choices available to individuals in their retirement accounts

February 26, 2018
Syed M. Ahmed, MD, MPH, DrPH, FAAFP, Associate Provost & Senior Associate Dean for Community Engagement, Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Professor, Institute for Health & Equity, Director, MCW Community Engagement Core, Director, CTSI Collaboration/Engagement Domain and
David A. Nelson, PhD, MS, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Center for Healthy Communities & Research, Medical College of Wisconsin
Topic: Advancing the Art & Science of Community Engagement (live stream/recording)
Description: Community engagement (CE) in higher education has evolved and become more prevalent among academic medical centers, with significant diversity in practices and language. This presentation will discuss the current definitions of CE, provide a brief overview of its evolution and rationale, and discussion around CE at the Medical College of Wisconsin and how to support it.

Learning Objectives: Review current definitions and principles of community engagement; Discuss evolution of and rationale for community engagement; Learn about the state of community engagement at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Discuss a practical model for comprehensive community engagement

March 26, 2018

Grant Hisao, postdoctoral research associate, CaSP Communications Director
Caitlin Warlick-Short, PhD candidate, Casp Co-President
Sam Anderson, PhD, candidate, CaSP Co-President
Topic: Activism and Beyond: Science Policy for Early-Career Scientists (live stream/recording)
Description: Catalysts for Science Policy (CaSP) is a student organization at UW-Madison that focuses on bringing SciPol and SciComm information to the early career scientists at the university. The speakers will be discussing the effects of science policy in academia and medicine, as well as the importance of evidence-based policy. Learn how you can make a difference.

Learning Objectives: Overview of the two main branches of science policy: Science for policy and policy for science; Overview of CaSP, which educates not only those in academia but also the public about the importance of being an active citizen; Discuss the many ways to contribute to evidence-based policy as a scientist or more directly through a career in policy or politics

April 23, 2018

Topic: Science Outreach Opportunities to Stimulate Interest in the Next Generation (live stream/recording) Presentation handout (PDF)
MCW Policy Maker: Matt Richter, JD, MA, Research Compliance
Ethicist: Ryan Spellecy, PhD, Ursula von der Ruhr Chair in Bioethics; Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Graduate School perspective: Neil Hogg, PhD, Associate Dean of Graduate Students; Professor of Biophysics
MCW Faculty perspective: TBD
Postdoc perspective: Julie Tetzlaff, PhD

May 14, 2018
Topic:  Engaging middle and high school students in modeling you research topic
Description:  In the SMART Team modeling program (Students Modeling A Research Topic), middle & high school students are introduced to basic concepts of protein structure and function using a variety of tactile, physical models. They are also introduced to the use of computer visualization tools to explore protein structures in a computer environment. With this background in place, they then work closely with a local research lab to design and build a physical model of a protein that plays a critical role in the work of the lab. As a capstone experience in the program, students are introduced to the real world of science as they present their modeling projects in poster sessions at a national meeting of research scientists.
Judy Baeten, Program Director. MS in Biology Education, MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling
Diane Munzenmaier, Program Director. PhD in Physiology, MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling

Learning ObjectivesUnderstand the goals and objectives of the SMART Team program; Consider new ways of communicating the relevance of your research project to a lay audience as well as offering insight into the career of a research scientist; Determine your level of interest in possibly mentoring a SMART Team in the future; 

June 11, 2018
Topic: Science Outreach and Advocacy in the Milwaukee Area: How to Get Started and What to Expect
Speaker: Keith Bankert, Outreach Director, Milwaukee Area Science Advocacy (MASA)
Description: This presentation provides a picture of the science outreach and advocacy landscape in the Milwaukee Area along with the collective professional development insights of the volunteers of the Milwaukee Area Science Advocates (MASA).  In order to address the personal obstacles to participating in science outreach and advocacy, the presentation will open with the story of our real and honest experiences organizing the Milwaukee March for Science and establishing the MASA.  A Q&A session with members of MASA leadership will follow.

Learning Objectives: The several, varied, and highly rewarding opportunities to participate in science outreach and advocacy in the Milwaukee Area, and the means by which those interested can get involved; The personal and professional development that can be gained by doing such work; A realistic assessment of the sacrifices required
View presentation

June 25, 2018
View presentation
Topic: "Interview as the candidate they want to hire"
Speaker: Dr. Tracy Costello, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association, Director of Postdoctoral Affairs at Moffitt Cancer Center

Learning Objectives: how to prepare for the interview; how to create a positive first impression; how to successfully respond to common interview questions; how to ask thoughtful questions; how to navigate alternative interview methods

July 23, 2018
View presentation
Topic:Promoting Wellness and Preventing Burnout
This presentation will provide an opportunity to review some of the evolving research in the area of burnout in academic medicine. We will discuss theories behind the development of wellness programming, and provide updates on resources available here at MCW. We will also engage in a group discussion about the growth of future initiatives for students.
Speaker: Jennifer N Apps, PhD, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine; Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs, Medical College of Wisconsin; Pediatric Neuropsychologist, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Learning Objectives:Increase understanding of the factors that influence career satisfaction versus burnout and the risk factors involved in burnout; Analyze potential options for improving wellness programming available for students at MCW.

August 12, 2018
View presentation
Topic:“Mastering the Elevator Pitch”
Speaker: Susanna Fletcher Greer, PhD, American Cancer Society (ACS), Director of Clinical Cancer Research, Nutrition, and Immunology

Learning ObjectivesParticipants will learn why science communication is no longer considered a ‘soft skill’; Reframe presentations as opportunities to gain support for their research mission; Leave with an elevator pitch that resonates with their audience and provides opportunities for engagement

August 27, 2018
View presentation
Speaker:  Adam Steinberg
12:00 pm-1:00 pm (part 1)
Adam will present a different perspective regarding poster presentations, the audience perspective. Because if no one stops at your poster, you don’t get to talk about your science! Learn how to create an effective scientific poster that satisfies both your need to present your science, and one that works to attract your audience to your poster.

1:00-2:00 pm (part 2)
FREE scientific poster critiques!!! Want your current poster professionally critiqued? Please bring a printed poster to the second hour where the presented ideas from the 12:00 pm-1:00 pm talk will be allied directly to your posters. Bring any poster in from your lab. Please let Paris ( know that you plan to bringing a printed poster.

September 24, 2018
View presentation
Topic: Budgeting and Credit Building
Speaker: T.J. Ebert, Branch Manager at UW Credit Union’s Tosa Branch –
I’ve been with the company 9 years, and worked in many different roles at a handful of branches. I started as a part-time teller during my final semester at UW-Madison, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Personal Finance. I worked as a Financial Specialist (i.e. Personal Banker) for over three years, as an Assistant Branch Manager for over two years, and have been in my current role as a Branch Manager for almost three years.
Speaker: Hope Sterken, Branch Manager II at UW Credit Union’s New Berlin Branch –
I’ve been with the company 15 years and worked in many different roles at several branches and departments.  I have held the roles of Assistant Branch Manager, Financial Specialist (i.e. Personal Banker), Talent Management Consultant, and Branch Manager.  I earned a Masters in Human Resource Management and am currently working toward a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) certification. 

Seminar learning objectives: Steps to creating a Spending Plan, recommended budgeting guidelines, what makes up your credit score (and what’s not in a credit report)

  • establishing a credit score, when to cancel a credit card and when not to

We will also welcome questions throughout the presentation, as well as open it up at the end for additional questions anyone may have

October 8, 2018
Recording/Live stream
Speaker: Marie-Elizabeth, BS in general biology, BS in microbiology, honors English degree, certificate in biotechnology – from UW-Milwaukee PhD in interdisciplinary biomedical science – from MCW
Marie-Elizabeth received her PhD in neuroscience from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she researched peripheral pain signaling mechanisms with Cheryl Stucky. She then worked for two years as a postdoc at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with Michael Dyer, where she optimized a protocol to reprogram adult murine retinal cells and then subsequently differentiate them into retinal tissue in a 3D culture system. She joined Nature Partner Journals as a Managing Editor in May 2016.
Topic: From Bench to Journal Editing: Tales of a Nature Managing Editor
Are you interested in being an editor? Would you like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at a journal? Do you have a long incubation period, and you’re interested in free food?

Learning Objectives: Understand the different types of editors and their roles with a journal; what I do as Managing Editor and why I chose this career path; how to gain experience in editing and science communication

October 22, 2018
Recording/Live stream
Topic: Building Respectful Professional Relationships to Support Your Career Development
Speaker: Amy Prunuske, Faculty Curriculum Program Manager; Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology; Medical College of Wisconsin- Central Wisconsin

Learning Objectives: Participants will reflect on their own communication styles, participants will identify strategies for improving communication with mentors, participants will establish mutual expectations for the mentoring relationship, participants will identify strategies to partner with their mentors to develop skills, identify passions, and discover opportunities for career success.

November 12, 2018
Didactic Session
Case Study (PDF)
Topic: Does my research project need IRB or not, that is the question
Speaker: Kathryn Gaudreau, CIP; Co-Chair, IRB Committee #5; Director - IRB Development & Education; HRPP/IRB Office - Office of Research; Medical College of Wisconsin

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore the theoretical aspects of human subjects research
  • Navigate human subject research and the IRB process at MCW
  • Assess the Revisions to the Common Rule and their impacts to human subjects research
  • Apply framework when evaluating case examples of projects.

Small Group Session
Recording/Live stream
Title: How the Tissue Bank works at MCW
Speaker: Tissue Bank Representative
Faculty-lead Small Group case study reviews: 1:00-2:00 pm, HRC 1310
This session will be a one-hour faculty-led small group discussion with trainees on selected case studies. Case study with Q&A will be provide prior to the workshop.

  • Harry Brammer & Dana Hirn Mueller, IRB Coordinators will be available to participate in the 2nd half (interactive component)

These, twice a year, workshops provide 4-hours of refresher RCR training to help trainees remain compliant for training grant (T32 and TL1) and individual fellowship (F). Note, to be NIGMS-compliant, trainees must attend both the didactic session lead by a content expert and a faculty led-small group session.

2017 Spotlight on Science Archives

January 9, 2017
Topic: The Commons Experience
Speakers: Drs. Zeeshan Afzal and Devin Mehta
Title: “Bridging the Academic Skills Gap: Innovation and Entrepreneurship” (Video)
Learning objectives for the audience: Highlight personal experiences with The Commons, Importance of innovation and entrepreneurship, Team exercise – Ideation

February 13, 2017
Speaker: Zeeshan Afzal, Karthika Divakaran, Angeles Baker
Topic: “Exploring career venture? wet your feet with PICO” (Video)
Learning objectives:

  • Learn how joining PICO can provide real world job experience in the biotech industry.
  • Hear how current PICO consultants learn how to consult and what it can do for them.
  • Do YOU have what it takes? We will give you the opportunity to try consulting during the session.\
  • Learn how you can benefit from the PICO experience.

February 27, 2017
Speaker: Jeremy Bock, Executive Director, Center for Christian Leadership, Wisconsin Lutheran College
Topic: "212 Degree Leadership" (Video)
What defines a leader? A 212° leader? What is the difference between being effective and extraordinary? In this interactive session Jeremy will facilitate conversations and activities around 10 elements that embody 212° leaderships and how going that one extra degree can significantly impact you and those lead.

April 10, 2017 Spotlight on Science - RCR Refresher
Speakers: John Imig, Joe Barberi
Topic: "Values and Professional Norms Underlying the Responsible Conduct of Collaborative Research Between Academic Institutions and Industry" (Video)
Learning objectives:

  • List some "needs" of academic and industry scientists that result in collaborations.
  • Cite common and contrasting values and professional norms that guide the responsible conduct of research in these collaborations.
  • Describe two (2) actual situations where the principles underlying professional conduct of research are tested.
  • Identify tools to manage the conflicts that might arise.
  • Form his/her own opinion on whether to engage in collaborations with industry.

A one hour session, coordinated with a subsequent one-hour, faculty led-small group discussion with your trainees to address selected case studies on this topic. Note, case studies will be provided prior to the April 10th session. These twice a year workshops provide 4-hours of refresher RCR training for our training grant (T32 and TL1) and individual fellowship (F) trainees. Note, to be NIH compliant, trainees must attend both the didactic session lead by a content expert and a faculty led-small group session.

April 24, 2017
Speaker: Robert Calder, MD, PhD, Executive Regional Director at Merck
Topic: "Biostatistical concepts in clinical science" (Video)
Learning objectives:

  • When translating discoveries from the bench to the bedside, understand what physicians should demand to know.
  • Understand the difference between statistical and clinical significance.
  • Learn to calculate the number needed to treat and how that relates to clinical significance.
  • Appreciate the criteria used to determine whether an association is causal.

May 8, 2017
Speaker: Dr. Nai-Fen Su, Career Counselor
Topic: "Marketing Yourself: Why Your Personal Brand Matters?" (Video)
Session description:
In today’s competitive world, there are many qualified candidates out there. The secret to standing out is to impress recruiters with the unique and authentic you- in person, on paper, and online. In this session, you will:

  • Learn why personal branding is important to a job seeker\
  • Explore what your personal brand images are
  • Learn how to build your personal brand

This is an interactive session. You will learn strategies of developing your personal brand from the presentation, TED Talk, and group discussion.

May 22, 2017
Speaker: Melody Bockenfeld, MPH, BSN; Dissemination & Implementation Program Manager, Community Academic Partnerships Program, UW Institute for Clinical & Translational Research
Topic: "So What? What's Next? Dissemination & Implementation Considerations Across the Translational Research Spectrum"
Learning objectives:

  • This session will contribute to SOS participant's understanding of dissemination and implementation (D&I) basics:
    • The process of spreading knowledge and information to settings (i.e., dissemination).
    • The study of methods that influence the integration of evidence-based interventions into practice settings (i.e., implementation).
    • SOS participants will understand the importance of considering D&I early on in their study design
    • SOS participants will learn how designing for dissemination can increase the impact of research at all stages of the translational research spectrum.

July 10, 2017
Speaker: Dr. Jordan Greer
Topic: "What's Diversity Got to do With it?: The Why, What, and How of Diversity Statements for Post-doc and Faculty Positions"
Learning objectives:

  • Overview the two contrasting approaches to the case for diversity in Higher Education
  • Understand what diversity statements are and why some institutions have moved toward requiring them
  • Learn how to prepare for and how to write your diversity statement
  • Become familiar with the MCW Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a resource for building your diversity

July 14, 2017
Grant Writing Workshop
Topic: "Demystifying the Grant Process: A Grant Writing Retreat for Postdocs and Graduate Students"
Resources for downloading:

July 24, 2017
Speaker 1: Dipankar Manna, PhD, Director, Research and Development, Lucigen Corp.
Topic: "Transitioning from Academia to Industry: What are Companies Looking For?" (PDF)
Session description:
Most scientists in industry today, at some point in their career, were scientists in academia. Those who have made the transition successfully, likely have done so because of an unique set of skills. Bedside academic excellence, these are creative problem solving, leadership, effective communication, team management capability, and interpersonal skills. My talk will focus on qualities needed to successfully make the transition from academia to industry.

Speaker 2: Michael Harrison, MD, PhD, Business Development Manager, BioForward
Topic: "Careers in the Biohealth Industry: Skills and Experience You Need (and May Already Have)" (PDF)
Session description:
There are a lot of career options for PhDs and Postdocs in the biohealth industry. This talk will help guide you through those options and discuss the skills and experience employers want. In addition, this talk will help the audience recognize and communicate the skills they have already gained through their training.

August 14, 2017
Speaker: Gregg TeHennepe, Program Manager, Computational Sciences, The Jackson Laboratory
Topic: "Research Project Management"
Session description: Since the 1950’s the field of project management has developed to become a core element for ensuring success of the initiatives in modern organizations, however it has not seen adoption in the world of basic research. I will present an overview of a newly developing agile approach to research project management that aligns with the scientific method and provides many of the benefits of project management found in other fields while retaining and enhancing those elements critical to the mission and process of scientific research.

Learning Objectives:

  • Get an overview of an approach to research project management
  • Understand the benefits of research project management
  • Understand how to use research project management while staying true to the process of scientific research

September 25, 2017
Speaker: Beverly Hutcherson, Outreach and Communications Manager for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Title: "Self-Awareness: Seeing Yourself Beyond your Degree"
Subtitle: The intersection of empathy for diverse experiences within the scientific community
Session description: Empathy is an interpersonal skill that is often not explored in natural science spaces. Our identity and training as scientists shape how we interact with our peers, students and how we determine value in interdisciplinary collaborations. We will work in small groups to dive deeper into our understanding of our individual identities and how we can improve upon valuing and coexisting with others who navigate life through a different lens.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of empathy
  • Increase awareness of one's self
  • Learn tips, tools and strategies that will Increase skills in effective communication

October 23, 2017
Spotlight on Science will host a refresher RCR on: Peer Review Speakers:
Dara Frank, PhD - Study section and grant reviewer
Ravi Misra, PhD - Experienced PI
Neil Hogg, PhD - Journal editor
Session description: A one hour session, coordinated with a subsequent one-hour, faculty led-small group discussion with your trainees to address selected case studies on this topic.

These twice a year workshops provide 4-hours of refresher RCR training for our training grant (T32 and TL1) and individual fellowship (F) trainees.

Note, to be NIH compliant, trainees must attend both the didactic session lead by a content expert and a faculty led-small group session.

Peer Review, Overview and Challenge Questions

Writing research papers and reviewing manuscripts and grants are essential activities in the scientific process. But authors and peer reviewers constantly face ethical issues for which they need to be prepared.


Access to all Spotlight on Science Videos
Access all view all past Spotlight on Science videos.

View now

MCW Office of Postdoctoral Education event

Social Events

  • March Madness and sporting activities: Get together with fellow postdocs and watch the basketball tournament
  • Zoo day: Outing with fellow postdocs, usually in fall
  • Postdoc Appreciation Week: Appreciate and celebrate postdocs during National Postdoc Appreciation Week in September
  • Holiday Party: Fun party for postdocs and their families; includes food, drinks, gifts for kids, raffle tickets
  • Happy hour and Trivia: Postdoc trivia with lots of fun themes; hosted alternate months