The Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), directed by Dr. Lisa M. Schwiebert the MERIT Program Director, offers a variety of workshops and seminars that promote the development of professional skills. Past and on-going topics include ‘Transition to Independence Seminar Series’ and ‘Career Day’; each of these events present information regarding career opportunities and job skills for the biomedical field. The OPE also offers the “How do you manage” workshop to all postdoctoral trainees. This workshop provides self-assessment tools for the improvement of management and leadership skills. In addition, the OPE provides the career development opportunities, including coursework, and award mechanisms listed below. All MERIT scholars are required to take the OPE courses in Grant Writing, Lab Management and Job Skills (see below).
- ‘Grant Writing Course for Postdoctoral Scholars’ – This course introduces every aspect of grant writing, including selecting funding mechanisms, writing individual grant sections and understanding administrative policies, to postdoctoral scholars. In addition, this course provides each postdoctoral scholar with the opportunity to write a grant and have it reviewed through a ‘mock-study section’ with faculty who evaluate trainee applications for the NIH.
- ‘Lab Management Course for Postdoctoral Scholars’ – This course introduces every aspect of laboratory management, including hiring staff, managing start-up budgets, practicing safe laboratory practices, and time management, to postdoctoral scholars.
- ‘Translational Science Course for Postdoctoral Scholars’ – This course brings together postdocs from basic science and clinical training programs and introduces them to major aspects of preparing a translational science research project, including study design, data analysis, and regulatory requirements. The course is directed by the UAB OPE in collaboration with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science; classes are instructed by teams of basic scientists and clinicians.
- ‘Job Skills Course for Postdoctoral Scholars’ - This course, which is directed by the UAB OPE in partnership with UAB Career and Professional Development Services, introduces every aspect of preparing for and completing a job search, including preparing CVs and resumes, and interviewing and negotiating skills.
- ‘Postdoctoral Research Day’ – Each Spring, all postdoctoral scholars are invited to participate in ‘Postdoctoral Research Day’ through the oral presentation of their studies’ results. Presentations are judged by UAB faculty members; cash awards are given for 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place finishes.
- ‘Career Enhancement Awards’ - These competitive awards are available to all postdoctoral scholars for collaborative research with other universities, attendance at workshops or courses to learn new skills, or performance of science-related internships.
- ‘The OPE Travel Awards’ - These competitive awards are available to all postdoctoral scholars and provide funds in support of postdocs’ travel to scientific meetings outside of UAB for the purpose of giving an oral presentation.
- ‘The OPE Scholars’ Awards’ – This award mechanism provides a financial incentive designed to encourage postdocs to apply for and receive individual grant funding.