Essential Professional Skills Series

This new, intentionally-designed series blends OACD programming with top-rated virtual content to give Pitt trainees access to an expanded set of sessions covering skills that all doctoral students and postdoctoral trainees should learn as an essential part of your professional development (see this stage in the ADAPT model for more information). This series covers a range of topics critical to your success and the foundational content applies across all disciplines.

Look for NEWin-person opportunities this year! Watch parties will be hosted in a room on campus where the virtual webinar will be shared on a large screen followed by facilitated discussion with your peers.

August 23, 2022
Thriving as an International Postdoc in the United States In-Person Option

Provided via the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)

Time and Location:

  • 3-4:15pm ET virtually through the NPA
  • 3-5pm ET NEWin-person option! BST S120. Join your fellow postdocs for a watch party followed by an in-person discussion facilitated by the UPPDA's International Chair, Aru Gupta, PhD, and Kati Von Lehman, Assistant Director of Outreach and Assessment in the Office of International Services at the University of Pittsburgh.

NPA Panel Presentation
Description: Thriving as a postdoc in today’s competitive climate is tenuous. International postdocs in the United States may face additional challenges due to a lack of clarity of expectations (hidden curriculum) and disadvantages due to marginalization posed by intersectional factors (immigration, socio-economic factors, etc.). In this workshop, NPA will introduce a framework for thriving as international postdocs. This framework will provide approaches for seeking information, resources, mentorship, and communities of support to identify and achieve professional and personal goals.

After this workshop, international postdocs will be able to:

  • Appreciate how intersections of identities influence their experience
  • Identify challenges that they may experience
  • Utilize a framework of approaches for thriving
  • Cultivate communities of support and mentoring to achieve diverse goals

NPA's Presenter Bios: 

Natalie Chernets, Ph.D., director of postdoctoral affairs & professional development, associate director, MD/Ph.D. program, assistant professor, College of Medicine, Drexel University, Drexel University. 
Chernets is a director of postdoctoral affairs and professional development at Drexel University. Chernets developed a passion for enhancing career-related training for trainees when she was the first administrative postdoctoral fellow at Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at Thomas Jefferson University. With multidisciplinary training in physics, electrical engineering, and ibomedical sciences, she speaks the languages of medical doctors, biologists, physicists, and engineers. She excels in drawing ideas from multiple disciplines and enjoys creating opportunities by connecting different people. Chernets is committed to supporting the next generation of scientists through her service with the Philadelphia chapter of the Association for Women in Science, where she served in multiple roles, including president and mentoring co-chair. Lastly, she serves on the postdoctoral section of the National Steering Committee for the Group on Graduate Research, Education and Training (GREAT) by the American Association for Medical Colleges.

Olga Koutseridi, M.A., senior advanced degree coordinator for global mobility, University of Texas at Austin. 
Koutseridi is the senior advanced degree coordinator for global mobility at the University of Texas at Austin. She leads the design of international career and professional development programming, advising, and resource development that directly address the needs and challenges of international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars pursuing careers in academia and industry inside and outside of the United States.

Sonali Majumdar, Ph.D., assistant dean for professional development, Graduate School, Princeton University. 
Majumdar is assistant dean for professional development in the GradFUTURES team of Graduate School of Princeton University. Previously, she was the associate director of graduate professional development at the University of Virginia, where she lead development and implementation of PhD Plus, the university’s professional development program for doctorate students and postdocs. Nationally, she contributes to the field of graduate and postdoc professional development as communications officer and executive committee member of Graduate Career Consortium. An international scientist, she earned doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia and did postdoctoral training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she developed a passion for enhancing the professional development of graduate students and postdocs.

October 17-21, 2022
Academic Career Success Conference for PhDs and Postdocs

Provided via Beyond the Professoriate

Time: Noon ET each day
Location: Zoom
Description: This year's Academic Career Success Conference will help unveil some of the hidden expectations and challenges graduate students and postdocs experience in academia. The conference will include panel discussions and advice on how to be successful during grad school and beyond.


  • Define goals for your degree or postdoc so you can set yourself up for success
  • Apply tips and strategies to get your dissertation done
  • Successfully network so you can build the professional relationships that will help you
  • Manage the stress and challenges inherent in the PhD and postdoc experience
  • Create a plan to gain the experience you'll need to be successful after your degree or postdoc
October 20, 2022
Wellness for Life

Time: 3:30-4:30pm ET
Location: Zoom
Presenters: Megan Stahl, MA, Office of Health Education and Promotion at the University of Pittsburgh; Claire Boykiw, LPC, University of Pittsburgh Counseling Center; Jason T. Miller, EdD, Department of Campus Recreation at the University of Pittsburgh; Thomas Koloc, Life Solutions
Description: Take control of your well-being and translate that to career success! Wellness is your overall well-being, or the act of living a healthy lifestyle. It is the balance of body, mind, and soul, which requires constant management to keep you feeling your best. In this interactive session, we will provide an overview of the "8 Dimensions of Wellness" and then you will learn about the vast range of services that are available through the university for free for Pitt faculty and trainees, to help you achieve wellness for life. New this year, there will be breakouts hosted by Thomas Koloc, who will speak about specific resources available to postdocs, and Megan Stahl, who will speak about resources available to graduate students.

Presenter Bios:

Claire Boykiw (she/her/hers) holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).  Claire specializes in working with clients dealing with substance use and addiction concerns but works with clients with a wide range of presenting concerns.  Claire has a trauma-informed approach to therapy, which is shaped by attachment work and a systems lens.  Above all, Claire operates under the core tenants of person-centered therapy, meeting each client with empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard.  Claire enjoys working with college students as they navigate a wide range of practical and existential concerns in what can be a rich and challenging time of life.

Thomas Koloc of Life Solutions will discuss the resources available to you through the University’s free faculty and staff assistance program. The mission of Life Solutions is to assist University employees and their household members to balance work and the stresses of daily life. Life Solutions offers personalized care services, 24-hour support, online resources, and tools. Life Solutions services include counseling and coaching services, substance use support, legal forms, health and fitness resources, financial guidance, free webinars, and more! He will also overview one-on-one health coaching services that are available onsite, over the phone, and online to help you define goals and make healthy lifestyle changes. 

Jason T. Miller, EdD, currently serves as the Associate Director, Wellness and Recreation Programs for the Department of Campus Recreation within the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. In this role he oversees the administration of all program-based services, which includes group fitness classes, personal training, intramurals, and competitive club sports. He is also responsible for all campus-wide marketing and promotion efforts for the department such as social media accounts, websites, and tabling events. In addition, Jason holds various leadership roles at the division and University level. He is the co-chair of the University’s Campus Well-being Consortium (CWBC), a group of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to advancing health and well-being throughout the campus community, and is the co-creator of Thrive@Pitt (, a University-branded website designed to educate students on the topic of well-being, while connecting them to campus resources for supporting and enhancing various aspects of their health and wellness. Jason’s dissertation is titled College Student Well-being: Using Websites as a Strategy for Campus-Wide Education and Support Efforts. He is passionate about the topic of well-being, the science behind our health and wellness, and behavioral strategies for pursuing and maintaining healthy lifestyles through the lifespan.

Megan Stahl (she/they) works in The Office of Health Education & Promotion, part of Student Health Services, where she has been leading health promotion efforts for nearly a decade. Megan earned a Master’s in Student Affairs in Higher Education from IUP, and also holds degrees in Psychology and Studio Art. Her past professional experiences include community treatment settings as well as health promotion and substance intervention programs in higher education. Presently, she coordinates various wellness programs and initiatives at Pitt including the PantherWELL peer educators, health promotion programs, substance education efforts, and the Collegiate Recovery Program. Megan is passionate about student well-being, and providing them with tools and support for individual growth and development.

October 25, 2022
Public Speaking

Provided via the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)

Time: 3-4:15pm ET
Location: Virtual
Presenter: Rob Pearson, PhD, Emory University
Description: Public speaking is an important way for scientists yto contribute to the scholarly conversations in their field. This workshop will prepare postdocs to become better public speakers.

October 27, 2022 
Overview of Career Development Resources for Postdocs at the University of Pittsburgh

Time: 4-5pm ET
Location: Zoom
Presenter: Darlene F. Zellers, PhD
Description: All postdocs in the schools of the health sciences attend an Orientation to Career Development seminar within the first three months of their training and are introduced to Pitt’s unique model of career development, that is, A Developmental Approach to Professional Training (ADAPT). This overview of career development resources is designed as a refresher that will cover the vast career development resources at your disposal and will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your career development challenges, opportunities, and plans with fellow postdocs.

Presenter Bio: Darlene F. Zellers, PhD, in her leadership role with the OACD, is responsible for supporting the academic health science community, including graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, clinical fellows, and faculty at every level of experience by providing full-spectrum academic career development guidance, programs, and services. With regard to postdoctoral affairs, she is additionally responsible for overseeing the postdoctoral appointment process and the professional career development of postdocs across the schools of the health sciences. University-wide, she is responsible for the Center for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Development, overseeing programs and resources that support the professional development of advanced-degree trainees across all academic centers.

November 2, 2022
3 Ways to Improve Your Online Professional Presence

Provided via Beyond the Professoriate

Time: 12-1pm ET
Location: Virtual
Description: LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It’s the number one place companies post jobs, and it’s where recruiters look for talent. You want to be on LinkedIn, confidently connecting with professionals, sharing resources, and connecting with recruiters. How can you make the most of your LinkedIn profile?

In this webinar, the Beyond the Professoriate team will share with you 3 action steps you can take today to build a LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed by and connected to professionals in career fields of interest. After attending this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose of an online professional profile.
  • Apply successful strategies to build your personal brand online.
  • Develop a plan to maintain and enhance your presence online.
  • Identify resources in the Beyond Prof Training Platform that can help you.

This webinar is sponsored by the Global Higher Education division of ETS®.

To register, log into Beyond the Prof, selecting "through your institution" (Pitt) at the top, and then REGISTER HERE

November 29, 2022
Constructive Communication

Provided via the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)

Time: 3-4:15pm ET
Location: Virtual
Presenter: Natalie Lundsteen, Ph.D.
Description: Navigating workplace communication can be challenging, especially when entering a new workplace. This session is designed to teach effective communication and interaction strategies for working with colleagues and teams. NPA will cover various modes of communication, and attendees will learn how to address some of the most common workplace communication challenges, including understanding email etiquette, giving and receiving feedback, and conducting difficult conversations.

Presenter Bio: Natalie Lundsteen, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for career and professional development, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Lundsteen is assistant dean for career and professional development and assistant professor of psychiatry, in the UT Southwestern Medical Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Dallas. She manages career and professional development programs and resources for postdocs and graduate students. She has a doctoral degree in education from Oxford University, and has advised and taught postdocs, graduate students, and alumni at Boston University, MIT, Oxford University, and Stanford University. She is a doctorate career advice contributor to Inside Higher Ed’s weekly ‘Carpe Careers’ blog, which offers doctorate career advice every Monday, co-author of ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists, and can often be seen on the American Society for Cell Biology’s online ‘Ask Me Anything’ events providing career and professional development advice. Lundsteen is a past president of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC), an international organization comprised of professionals leading career and professional development for postdocs and doctorates.

To register, log into the NPA site and then REGISTER HERE. If the "Register Here" button is not live, check back in a few days. The link will be sent to you ahead of the session.

December 13, 2022

Provided via the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)

Time: 3-4:15pm ET
Location: Virtual
Presenter: Yvette Seger, PhD, and Jennifer Zeitzer, PhD
Description: Interested in working to improve the policy and legislative landscape affecting the research community? During this session, attendees will learn key skills to successfully engage in advocacy. Participants will learn about advocacy tactics, effective communication, and the application of scientific research skills to advocacy activities. Participants will also learn about ways that they can participate in policy and advocacy initiatives during their postdoctoral training and paths to pursuing a full-time career in government relations.

To register, log into the NPA site and then REGISTER HERE. If the "Register Here" button is not live, check back in a few days. The link will be sent to you ahead of the session.



2021-2022 Professionalism Series