UAB Postdoctoral Association Executive Board Handbook

2007-2012

Table of Contents

Mission of the UAB Postdoctoral Association

History of the UAB Postdoctoral Association

Orientation to the Executive Board: Roles and Responsibilities

Standing Committees: Descriptions and Positions

UABPDA Constitution

UABPDA By-laws

 

 

MISSION OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

The mission of the UABPDA is to provide a voice for UAB and SRI postdoctoral fellows that reflects the important contribution postdoctoral fellows make to scholarly research: (1) by advocating for effective career training and preparation for transitioning to independence in the diverse career paths available to postdoctoral scholars, and (2) by working toward an improved environment for postdoctoral scholars which allows for balancing work and home responsibilities.

HISTORY OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

Inception

2004-2005 EB

Adam Keeton PhD, Aimee Landar PhD, Erin Thacker PhD, Maaike Everts PhD, Meredith A Preuss PhD, Doug Moellering PhD, Rob Cartee PhD, Stephanie Cowey PhD, Qiana Matthews PhD, Stephen Perrett PhD, Abdul Ajees Abdul Salam PhD, Amy VanEngen Spivey PhD.

Late in 2003, at the urging of Dr. Victor Darley-Usmar, the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education, a Founders Committee was formed to begin the process of establishing a Postdoctoral Association at UAB (UABPDA). The Founders Committee was comprised of two postdoctoral scholars at UAB, Drs. Keith Micoli and Maaike Everts. Modeling the UABPDA after the newly established National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), the Founders Committee prepared and submitted a Constitution and By-laws to the postdoctoral community of UAB in April, 2004, and the Constitution and By-laws were approved at the inaugural Town Hall Meeting of postdoctoral scholars on May 4, 2004.

The Executive Board

The first Executive Board (EB) was elected in June 2004 with Dr. Maaike Everts being elected to serve as Chair. The 2004-2005 EB worked to establish the basic framework of the UABPDA and began the process of defining the needs of postdoctoral fellows at UAB. The first university-wide Postdoctoral Research Day (PDRD), held in April 2003, was organized by the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE) under the direction of Dr. Victor Darley-Usmar and by the efforts of two postdoctoral scholars, Drs. Rob Cartee and Maaike Everts. This event allowed postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to present their research to their peers and gain valuable experience in an important career skill. In 2005, the UABPDA took over responsibility for the PDRD and the second PDRD was held in February 2005. It has continued as a yearly event organized by the PDRD standing committee of the UABPDA EB. The 2004-2005 EB also instituted the Balance in Science luncheon, which addresses the issue of balancing work responsibilities with the demands of home life. The Balance in Science luncheon has been held yearly since 2005 and is organized by the Balance in Science standing committee of the UABPDA EB.

2005-2006 EB

Doug Moellering (Chair), Erin Thacker (Vice Chair; I),  Qiana Matthews (Secretary), Stephanie Cowey (Treasurer; BiS), Meredith Preuss (Electoral Officer; PDRD), Xuxia Wu, Balu Chacko (O), Nick Khoo, Adam Keeton (BtB), Eric Kelley (TH), Steve Perrett, and Abdul Ajees Abdul Salam.

The 2005-2006 EB, with Dr. Doug Moellering serving as Chair, worked to provide a smooth transition to subsequent EB's as well as the incorporation of specific events designed to improve the training environment for postdoctoral fellows. Seminars and other events were implemented or continued, with input from the EB, to address specific career skills necessary for successful advancement, including effective presentation skills, grantsmanship and manuscript preparation. In addition, the By-Laws were modified to include representation on the EB by one postdoctoral scholar from Southern Research Institute (SRI).

2006-2007 EB

Catherine DiCostanzo PhD (Chair), Mickael Cariveau PhD (Vice Chair), Kelly Andringa PhD (Secretary), Lisa M. Curtis PhD, Erin Thacker PhD, Laszlo Not MD, Xuxia Wu PhD, Melanie Styers PhD, Senait Asmellash PhD, Amanda K. Wake PhD, Thea Nicola PhD, Balu Chacko PhD, Torry Tucker PhD and Issa Coulibaly PhD.

The activities of the 2006-2007 EB have focused on refining the goals of the UABPDA EB and expanding the professional topics addressed in seminars, workshops and other event venues. During the past year, a specific set of seminars and workshops was defined to constitute a Postdoctoral Curriculum. A current short-term goal of the UABPDA EB is the implementation of this Postdoctoral Curriculum. The long term goals of the UABPDA are to maintain a focus on empowering postdoctoral scholars in advancing their careers and maintaining a balance between career and home life.

2008-2009 EB

Kelly Andringa (Chair), Rashada C Alexander (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Marlene Winkelbauer, David Krzywanski, Melanie L Styers, Thomas William Lowder, Hilal Arnouk, and Jamiyanaa Dashdorj

2009-2010 EB

Marlene Winkelbauer (Chair), David Krzywanski (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Hilal Arnouk (Electoral Officer), Eugene Masters (Industry Roundtable Representative), Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Lacey McNally, Changchun Ren, Jessy S Deshane, Michelle Amaral, and Tony Filiano

The 2009-2010 EB started addressing the postdoctoral quality of life, specifically pertaining to benefits and salary. With the help of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), the EB was able to improve the benefits at UAB for all postdoctoral scholars. In addition to improved benefits, the EB continued to plan and organize postdoctoral career development curriculum and seminar series that provides the trainees with the needed resources for transitioning to their next career stage.

2010-2011 EB

Marlene Winkelbauer (Chair), David Krzywanski (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Michelle Amaral (Interim Secretary), Aundrea Bartley (GCAT Liaison),  Kirk Yancy Williams (Electoral Officer), Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Lacey McNally, Syed Rahmanuddin, Kumar Putcha, Changchun Ren, Jessy S Deshane, and Hilal Arnouk

The 2010-2011 EB has continued to address the postdoctoral quality of life and has focused on negotiating with the administration to increase the minimum postdoctoral stipend level. The EB continued the seminar series to address areas of interest indicated by the postdoctoral community, mainly focusing on the academia lifestyle. The majority of the committees were not in use during this year.    

2011-2012 EB

Aundrea Bartley (Chair), Jessica Perez (Secretary), Jessica Grunda (GCAT Liaison), Tabitha Hardy (Media Representative), Diane Bimczok, Michelle Amaral, Lacey McNally, Kumar Putcha, Hope Amm, Jackie Harris, Teruko Bredemann and Katherine Ingram

Several initiatives happened during the 2011-2012 that was supported by the EB. The need was felt and met to extend the awareness of UAB’s PDA to the postdoctoral community. This was accomplished through the establishment of a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter was used to make postdocs aware of the benefits available to them at UAB, issues that postdocs nationwide have encountered, as well as recap of important seminars. The seminar series mainly focused on careers that branched outside of academia, including but not limited to scientific writing, science policy, and patent law. Through our collaboration with the OPE, two additional courses have been implemented, Translational Science, and Job Skills. At the end of this term, we decided to remove the position of GCAT liaison from the EB and revamp the EB, more details on the revamp are below. These changes were partially brought on by the need for one on one career counseling for all postdocs at UAB. It has definitely been an exciting year.  

2012-2013 EB

Teruko Bredemann (Chair, Balance in Science Chair), Jessica Grunda (Vice-Chair, Postdoc Research Day Chair), Jessica Perez (Secretary), Tabitha Hardy (Social/Involvement Chair), Hope Amm (Postdoc Research Day Chair), Baldeep Khare (PDA Newsletter Editor), Tanecia Mitchell (PDA Newsletter Editor), LaToya Paul (Balance in Science Chair), Helen Collins, Jennifer McLarty, Tomader Ali, Michelle Amaral (emeritus) and Aundrea Bartley (emeritus)

The EB and the OPE

The UABPDA is independent from the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), but collaborates with the OPE in organizing events aimed at postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI. The Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education works closely with the EB providing advice on the feasibility of carrying out the activities that the EB proposes on behalf of postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI. Prior Associate Deans have included Drs. Tika Benveniste, Sadis Matalon and Victor Darley-Usmar. The current Associate Dean, Dr. Lisa M. Schwiebert, was appointed in March 2007.

Several members of the Executive Board also serve on the UAB Council on Postdoctoral Education (COPE), which advises the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education on issues related to postdoctoral training. Issues that the EB believe require attention from the UAB administration can be brought to the attention of COPE for discussion and action.

In addition, the OPE will sponsor one or two interested Executive Board members to attend the annual meeting of the NPA (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org) each year, as permitted, with funds allotted by the Associate Dean. A past Chair of the NPA and current members of the Board of Directors of the NPA are at UAB and are important resources for the UABPDA. In addition, UAB is a founding member of the NPA and postdoctoral scholars at UAB are encouraged to consider joining the NPA as individual members.

ORIENTATION TO THE EXECUTIVE BOARD: Roles and responsibilities

The constituency of the UABPDA, the postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI, rely upon the Executive Board (EB) to bring about positive change to the postdoctoral training and environment at UAB which will result in improved career outcomes. Working in concert with and with the guidance of the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education and the staff of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), the EB is tasked with defining the needs of postdoctoral fellows at UAB and SRI and advocating for specific changes to achieve this goal. The EB works through the efforts of four officers and eight board members, who play important roles in implementing the goals of the UABPDA.

Officers of the Executive Board

A. Chair

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Chair defines the overall vision and direction of the UABPDA efforts during the next 12 months, while being responsive to input from the EB.

2.  The Chair organizes and runs the business meetings of the EB and is responsible for timely notification to the EB of meeting times and locations, as well as preparation and timely dissemination of the agenda for the meetings and any other information or materials that the EB needs in order to address the issues. While also expressing his/her own views, the Chair must encourage and ensure that all EB members are given an opportunity to voice their opinion or input at meetings.

3.  The Chair should lead by example. The Chair should be engaged in all committees, assisting each committee chair in making progress on the committee's yearly goals.

4.  The Chair serves as the point of contact for the UABPDA in any official communications.

5.  The Chair works closely with and shares responsibilities with the Vice-Chair, as appropriate.

6.  The Chair should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

7.  The Chair is responsible for presenting the goals and accomplishments of the UABPDA to postdoctoral scholars during the Postdoctoral Orientation. Be a point of contact and information for newly arrived postdoctoral scholars to help the transition of living and working at UAB.

8.  The Chair is responsible for scheduling the monthly EB meeting, both the room and sending out reminder emails.

9.  The Chair should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

·    The Chair should have experience as a postdoc and a clear idea of the needs and concerns of postdocs, with particular emphasis on the needs of postdocs at UAB and SRI.

·    The chair will have sat on the EB for at least 6 months in order to understand the past efforts and history as well as any contacts which might be helpful in achieving the goals of the UABPDA. Substantial differences exist between graduate student organizations and postdoctoral associations and the postdoctoral scholar who assumes the Chair position should be cognizant of these differences. Experience as a postdoc, experience with UAB in some capacity (e.g. graduate student, staff), or perhaps service on another professional board might also be important credentials.

·    The Chair should exhibit strong leadership and people skills and be receptive to constructive input from the EB, the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education or other interested parties in defining the goals of the UABPDA. Strong team-building, motivational and communication skills will facilitate not only the monthly meetings, but also the interactions of board members in the various activities.

·    The ability to delegate is important, however, the Chair should have sufficient time to dedicate effort in assisting Committee Chairs and be able to step in and take over the responsibilities of any position vacated until it is filled.

·    As the official point of contact, the Chair should have sufficient time to devote to handling email and phone interactions.

·    The Chair should demonstrate an ability to work well with the Vice-Chair, ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities if necessary.

·    Ultimately, the ability of the chair to effectively lead will determine the success rate of the EB.

B. Vice Chair:

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Vice-Chair should work closely with the Chair as a collaborator. In the event that the Chair steps down, the Vice-Chair must be able to step in and take over the responsibilities of the Chair.

2.  The Vice-Chair should be fully versed in the status of all projects and the overall vision of the UABPDA as defined by the Chair.

3.  In addition, the Vice-Chair functions as the liason for the additions/corrections to the website, which are done by staff of the Office of Postdoctoral Education or other administrative entity.

4.  The Vice-Chair should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

5.  The Vice-Chair should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Since the duties of the Chair and Vice-Chair potentially overlap, the Vice-Chair should have similar experience as the Chair and have sat on the EB for at least 6 months.

o  Leadership and people skills as well as strong communication and team-building skills are important.

o  Although the Vice-Chair does not need as much background in a leadership position as the Chair, this position should be seen as a natural step towards Chair, with the year as Vice-Chair an opportunity to become fully acquainted with UAB, the OPE and the EB and how they work together to improve the lives and training of postdocs.

C. Secretary

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Secretary is responsible for taking minutes at the monthly EB meetings and composing and disseminating a synopsis of these shortly after each meeting.

2.  The Secretary is responsible for communication with the OPE regarding advertisement of events to postdocs via email as well as making certain that events are advertised in the UAB Reporter or other venues appropriate for communication with postdocs.

3.  The secretary should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

4.  The Secretary should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Because the Secretary is the main point of communication in the EB, he/she should exhibit strong organizational and writing skills and be able to manage inflow and outflow of information effectively.

Members of the Executive Board

The members of the EB are made up of emeriti members, standalone members, the chairs of all the committees, and the officers. The emeriti members are made up of individuals who previously served on the EB, but transitioned out of the postdoctoral category, and maintains an interest in seeing the PDA evolve. The standalone members are made up of postdocs who are involved in one of the committees, but are not a chair of the committee.

All EB members should embrace the following role and responsibilities on top of any other duties needed in the PDA.  

Role and responsibilities:

1.     EB members must represent the views of postdocs at UAB and SRI.

2.     All members of the executive board should be on at least one committee. As members of any committee, each EB member should contribute recognizable effort to the activities of any committee on which he/she is a member. The following are list of standing committees.

a)    Postdoctoral Research Day

b)    PDA Newsletter

c)     Social/Involvement

d)    Balance in Science

3.  As chair of a standing committtee, the EB member must clearly define and direct the activities of the members of his/her standing committee and communicate effectively with the EB to facilitate completion of the committee's yearly goals.

4.  EB members should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

5.  Help plan and carry out the annual Town Hall Meeting, where UAB and SRI postdoctoral scholars can gain insight into issues affecting their status and progress at UAB.

6.  Help develop and plan a comprehensive and evolving series of seminars and workshops to address various concepts of fundamental, scientific, administrative and career preparation.

7.  The EB members should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

8.  When an EB member attends a conference outside of UAB, they are required to obtain recruitment materials from the OPE office. These materials should be displayed at some point during the conference to advance UAB’s mission to recruit more postdocs. Please notify the OPE office in advance so that they will have enough material available.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Enthusiasm for issues associated with the goals of the PDA is essential.

o  Board Members should demonstrate an ability to work well in teams and communicate ideas, in both written and verbal form.

o  Board Members should have an ability to convey the importance and fun of being on the EB of the UABPDA to prospective volunteers. Ideally, a Board Member who leaves the EB should identify a potential replacement before or at the time he/she resigns.

o  Chairing a committee is an excellent vehicle for development of leadership and networking skills and Board Members should exhibit enthusiasm for taking on these challenges.

 

 

Standing Committees: Descriptions and Positions

Each committee requires a minimum of one chair person to oversee the committee. The committees are made up of individuals from the executive board as well as UAB postdocs that want to become more involved.

All committees need to perform surveys on a regular basis to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the postdoctoral community.

PDA Newsletter

Goals: To continue to increase awareness about the PDA’s activities at UAB, the benefits available to all postdocs at UAB, and highlight important issues faced by the postdoctoral community. Additionally, this is an avenue for postdocs to become more involved.

Activities: Creates, writes, and distributes newsletter to increase number of persons reading/utilizing newsletter.

Required Positions

UABPDA Newsletter Editors

As this is a very involved entity, this will require the need for two individuals to be co-editors.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The PDA Newsletter Editor is responsible for developing and maintaining a quarterly newsletter discussing issues that postdocs at UAB and SRI face, as well as solutions developed by the PDA towards the issues.

2.     The Editor is in charge of developing the format for the Newsletter.

3.     The Editor should recruit volunteers to write brief pieces for the newsletter.

4.     The Editor should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Balance in Science

Goals: To stimulate discussion of how postdoctoral scholars can balance their work with family and personal responsibilities.

Activities: Plans mentoring luncheon where postdoctoral scholars can discuss their concerns about balancing their work and other aspects of life with a faculty member in a small group setting. Also plans seminars regarding aspects of time management, such as "Seven habits of highly effective scientists" and the WorkLife workshop, "How do I manage?", that addresses personality differences in the workplace.

Required Positions

Committee Chairs

This committee will include two co-chairs to oversee all activities.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Chair organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Chair is the liaison between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

 

 

Social/Involvement

Goals: To encourage involvement of the UABPDA members in activities of the Association and in interaction with each other.

Activities: Plans monthly networking meetings and special events throughout the year to facilitate the interaction of postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI across disciplines and departments. This includes the yearly Postdoc Appreciation Events in September. Additionally, they are responsible for maintaining our media relations, including Facebook and LinkedIn.

Required Positions

Chair of the Committee

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Chair organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Chair is the liaison between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

Postdoctoral Research Day

Goals: To plan and carry out the annual Postdoctoral Research Day, where UAB and SRI postdoctoral scholars can present research results and compete for monetary prizes.

Activities: Plans the Postdoctoral Research Day, including obtaining funding for catering and awards.

Required Positions

Committee Chairs

As this is a very involved entity, this will require the need for two individuals to be co-chairs.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Co-Chairs organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Co-Chairs are the liaisons between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

3.     The Co-Chairs are responsible for the fundraising necessary for this event in order to award cash prizes.

4.     The Co-Chairs are involved in ensuring that the event has enough judges and that they come from a variety of backgrounds.

5.     The Co-Chairs are responsible for determining the rules and guidelines for the event.

6.     The Co-Chairs are involved in the placement of postdocs in the appropriate sections of Postdoctoral Research Day.

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

May 4, 2004

Amended June 16, 2012

ARTICLE I

NAME AND PURPOSE

1.1   Name

The name of the organization shall be the University of Alabama at Birmingham Postdoctoral Association, hereinafter referred to as the "UABPDA" or the "Association".

1.2 Purpose

The purpose of the UABPDA is to establish a self-sustaining organization to provide a voice for postdoctoral fellows and scholars (hereafter referred to as postdocs) and advocate for their interests.

1.3 Activities

The UABPDA shall work to provide a voice for the interests of postdocs. The UABPDA will: (1) gather information and build consensus regarding "best-practice" policies for postdocs, (2) work with the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE) to develop educational initiatives for the dissemination of these policies to postdocs and the University administration and encourage their implementation into institutional policy, and (3) enter into meaningful and constructive dialogue with the OPE, the Council of Postdoctoral Education, University administration, professional organizations and other relevant organizations to advocate for improvements in policies affecting postdoctoral scholars.

The UABPDA is not, and shall not become, a union. The UABPDA does not represent, or seek to represent, any class of individuals for the purpose of collective bargaining with any organization or organizations. The UABPDA shall not use, or cause to be used on its behalf, lobbying activities. The UABPDA shall seek to use a collaborative, educational and non-adversarial approach to its relationships with all relevant parties for the pursuit of the aims of the Association.

ARTICLE II

, MEMBERSHIP

2.1 Eligibility

All postdocs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or Southern Research Institute (SRI) are automatically members of the UABPDA.

2.2 Rights and Obligations

All members shall have the right to petition the Executive Board (EB, section 4.1) with respect to any matter of relevance to the purpose of the UABPDA, nominate or be nominated for positions on the EB, propose policy initiatives to the EB, serve on committees of the UABPDA as established in the By-Laws, vote for members of the EB, vote on amendments to the Constitution, and attend the Annual Meeting. Members shall be obligated to observe the By-Laws of the UABPDA.

2.3 Non-Discrimination

The UABPDA shall not discriminate against any individual or organization on the basis of age, socio-economic status, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, political orientation, race, religion or sexual orientation.

ARTICLE III

MEETING

3.1 Annual Meeting

The UABPDA shall hold an annual national meeting open to all members of the UABPDA, prospective members, and interested parties, to further the purpose of the Association, provide a forum for open discussion of issues relevant to postdoctoral scholars, debate the policies and vision of the Association, and carry out the necessary democratic processes of the Association. The annual meeting location and details shall be decided by the Executive Board.

3.2 Notification of Annual Meeting

Printed and electronic notification of the Annual Meeting of the UABPDA, including the date, time and place shall be widely disseminated.

BY-LAWS OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

May 4, 2004

Amended June 16, 2012

ARTICLE I

MEMBERSHIP

1.1 Membership

Membership of the UAB Postdoctoral Association (the "UABPDA" or the "Association") shall consist of all postdoctoral fellows and scholars (hereinafter referred to as postdocs) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or Southern Research Institute (SRI).

1.2 Voting Privileges

The voting privileges of the Association (the "voting members") shall apply to all members of the Association. Each individual or institutional member shall be entitled to one vote.

1.3 UABPDA Definition of a Postdoc

For the purposes of the UABPDA the term postdoc shall be defined as follows: an individual holding a doctoral degree or equivalent (e.g. PhD, MD, DVM), appointed to pursue research and scholarship under the direction of a mentor. The postdoctoral appointment is not a permanent position, and is undertaken for the purpose of further developing professional skills that will benefit the postdoctoral fellow in pursuing the career path of his/her choice. In addition to research activities, postdocs may provide instruction to undergraduate, graduate and medical students, and write or assist in the writing of grants or fellowships, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and other scholarly works.

ARTICLE II

REMOVAL OF MEMBERS

2.1 Removal

Members who violate any provision of these By-Laws or act in an injurious manner towards the Association may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Executive Board present at a meeting in consideration of the matter.

ARTICLE III

MEETING

3.1 Annual Meeting

The UABPDA shall hold an Annual Meeting open to all members of the UABPDA, prospective members, and interested parties, to further the purpose of the Association, provide a forum for open discussion of issues relevant postdoctoral scientists, debate the policies and vision of the Association, and carry out the necessary democratic processes of the Association in compliance with the UABPDA Constitution.

ARTICLE IV

GOVERNANCE

4.1 Executive Board

The UABPDA shall be governed by an Executive Board ("EB") of up to 15 persons. Each member of the EB must be a member of the UABPDA at the time of his/her election and may serve for a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms (four years) unless a petition for an extension of one year is allowed by a majority vote of the EB. One of the maximal 15 EB positions will be available for a postdoctoral representative from SRI. SRI will be responsible for determining that individual and informing the UABPDA EB. If an SRI postdoc is not elected, appointed, available or notification from SRI that a postdoctoral representative exists to occupy that one EB position, by default that one position may be filled by any of the remaining UABPDA members Each member of the EB shall be entitled to one vote on each matter of substance submitted to a vote of the EB. Vacant positions on the EB arising between elections shall be filled by a majority vote of the EB within 60 days of the vacancy and the appointed individual shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. The Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary, shall be elected from the EB for one-year terms by majority vote of the EB.

4.2 Duties and Obligations of the Executive Board

The Executive Board shall act in the best interests of postdoctoral scientists at UAB. The EB shall ensure that the UABPDA is an information and consensus driven organization that provides a constructive means for postdoctoral scientists to advocate for effective change. Specifically, the EB shall:

·    endeavor to establish the UABPDA as an organization that provides a voice for the interests of postdoctoral scientists

·    gather information and build consensus regarding "best-practice" policies for postdocs, develop educational initiatives to disseminate these policies to postdocs and the university administration, and encourage and facilitate their implementation into institutional policy

·    conduct or assist in surveying postdoctoral scientists and policies and tracking progress over time

·    host and distribute information and resources of interest to postdoctoral scientists

·    adopt resolutions and statements on matters affecting the Association

·    propose amendments to the Constitution and amend the By-Laws

·    establish standing committees and appoint standing committee chairs

·    initiate, supervise, and terminate subcommittees

·    appoint administrative officers

·    determine the time and place of the annual meetings, have general responsibility for the programs and arrangements for the annual meeting

·    authorize public statements on behalf of the Association

·    arrange to meet as a group at least four times per year

·    take whatever precautions necessary to ensure that the By-Laws and Constitution of the UABPDA are upheld

4.3 Executive Board Chair

The Executive Board Chair (the "Chair") shall be appointed from the EB by a majority vote of the EB. EB members are eligible to be Chair after serving 6 months on the EB. The Chair shall serve a term of one year. The Chair shall convene, preside over and set agendas for meetings of the EB and the UABPDA. The Chair shall act as the representative of the UABPDA to the university administration and Council of Postdoctoral Education, delegate such duties to other EB members as may be required, and ensure that the UABPDA is performing within its Constitution and Bylaws and making progress towards its aims. The EB Chair shall be a member or an ex-officio member of all UABPDA sub-committees.

4.4 Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair shall assume the responsibilities of the EB Chair when the Chair is unable to perform those functions. If the Chair is unable to function in that role for more than four months for reasons foreseen, or unforeseen, the Vice-Chair shall become the Executive Board Chair. EB members are eligible to be Vice-Chair after serving 6 months on the EB. The Vice-Chair shall be responsible for taking on projects from the Chair when, or if, the Chair is too encumbered to carry them out at the discretion of the Chair. The term of the Vice Chair is one year.

4.5 Secretary

The Secretary shall maintain a current record of all members of the EB, Standing Committees and ad hoc subcommittees, maintain a permanent record of EB, Standing Committees, and ad hoc subcommittees proceedings, and arrange for and approve drafts of official UABPDA correspondence.

4.6 Committee Chairs

Each Standing Committee (Article V) shall have a committee chair who shall be responsible for managing the efforts of the committee, advising the EB of issues of concern to the committee or issues that require the attention of the full EB, providing updates to the UABPDA on committee activities, and providing an annual report on the activities of the committee. Chairs of committees are appointed by the EB, and will be members of the EB.

4.7 Admittance and Elections

Admittance to the EB will be on a rolling admission basis, since all postdocs do not start UAB at the same time. The only time admittance may be denied is if the EB contains is at the maximum number of individuals required to govern the Association. However, if in this situation positions are taken on the EB by emeriti members, then the emeriti members should give their slot to the interested postdoc.

Elections shall be held as needed. This will occur either when the one year term is finished for that position or due to changes in the elected official’s situation. A positions should not be left vacant for greater than sixty days.

Slates for candidates for EB positions shall be published to the members at least 30 days in advance of issuance of ballots. Nominations should be submitted to the EB, and must include the following:

1.  A curriculum vitae of the candidate

2.  A biographical statement from the candidate describing their interest in serving on the EB and their relevant experience. This statement will be provided to the electorate with the slate of candidates.

4.8 Leave of Absence


Any member of the EB may request a leave of absence from the Chair, or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party. A leave of absence may be no longer than three months, except under extenuating circumstances as determined by the Chair or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party. In no circumstance may the leave of absence extend beyond the term of office of the EB member. The Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party, upon granting the leave of absence, shall appoint a member of the EB to serve in the vacant position on an interim basis.

4.9 Removal

Any member of the EB may be removed from office for malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance by a two thirds majority vote of the EB and subject to the following grievance procedure: any person wishing to file a grievance must submit a letter to the Chair of the EB, or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is named in the grievance, outlining the grievance. The Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is named in the grievance letter, shall convene an Adjudication Committee consisting of the EB members not named in the grievance letter. Within 15 days of the receipt of the grievance, this committee shall be provided with the grievance letter, shall contact the parties involved in the dispute and give both sides the opportunity to satisfactorily express their positions in the grievance, shall then discuss the issue and vote on the validity of the removal. A majority vote of the Adjudication Committee shall be required for the removal to take place.

Members who do not attend the EB meeting for three consecutive months without notification to the Chair as to the reason for the absence are eligible for removal.

4.12 Resignation

The resignation of an EB member shall be effective when a written letter of resignation is received by the Chair of the EB, or in the event of a leave of absence exceeding three months in duration without approval of the Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is the involved party.

4.13 Parliamentary Procedure

Robert's Rules of Order, except when inconsistent with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association, shall govern the meetings of the EB, subcommittees, and annual UABPDA meeting.

ARTICLE V

COMMITTEES

5.1 General Regulations

Committees may be established, charged and, when appropriate, terminated by a majority vote of the EB.

Each committee shall promote the work of the Association, under general direction and oversight by the EB. Meetings of the committees may not incur financial obligation by the Association without prior approval of the EB. The EB shall determine the maximum size of each committee. The EB shall annually review the activities of the committees and, where appropriate, shall provide for rotation of committee membership.

5.2 Standing Committees

Standing Committees necessary to the achievement of the goals of the UABPDA shall be formed by the EB. A committee chair shall be named by the EB, and this chair is responsible for the activities of the committee and for reporting the activities to the EB. Standing Committees are formed as permanent committees, but can be dissolved or reorganized following a majority vote of the EB.

5.3 Ad-hoc Subcommittees

Ad-hoc Subcommittees shall be established within Standing Committees as and when necessary by a majority vote of the EB. In its charge to a committee, the EB shall make explicit the term of the subcommittee's effective life. The EB may subsequently extend that term if, in its judgment, such extension is desirable. Any two members of the UABPDA prepared to work on a Subcommittee may suggest the creation of a Subcommittee and a remit for that Subcommittee.

ARTICLE VI

OFFICIAL STATEMENTS

The Association shall not be responsible for statements or opinions advanced by any of its officers or presented in papers, discussions at meetings of the Association or printed in its publications, except for those authorized by the EB.

ARTICLE VII

AMENDMENTS

7.1 Amendments

Amendments may be made to these By-Laws by a two-thirds majority vote of the EB or the voting members of the UABPDA. Amendments to the By-Laws will become in full effect the next day following the conclusion of the vote. Any By-Law amended by a vote of the EB must be approved by a majority vote of the members of the UABPDA at the next Annual Meeting of the UABPDA. If the amendment is then not accepted by the vote of the members of the UABPDA it shall be repealed.

7.2 Proposal of amendments

Amendments to the By-Laws may be proposed by any member of the EB or by petition signed by at least 10% of the members of the Association. Proposed amendments shall be submitted in writing, or electronically, the Chair of the EB by any voting member of the UABPDA. A vote by the EB on acceptance of the amendments must occur within sixty (60) days of their acceptance by the Chair of the EB.

7.3 Notification

Proposed amendments must be sent in writing, or electronically, to all members at least thirty (30) days prior to voting.

7.4 Annual Review

The EB shall conduct an annual review of the By-Laws of the UABPDA so as to evaluate and update them if necessary to ensure that they stay current, adapt with the times and remain effective.

ARTICLE VIII

RATIFICATION

8.1 Ratification

The By-Laws of the UABPDA shall take effect immediately pursuant to ratification by a majority vote of the attendees of the inaugural UABPDA meeting.

Postdocs in UAB News

  • Floyd named president-elect of National Neurotrauma Society

    UAB’s Candace Floyd is set to take a top leadership post with the National Neurotrauma Society.

    Candace Floyd, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is the president-elect of the National Neurotrauma Society. The president-elect will assume the duties of president in June 2016 for a one-year term. Floyd previously served terms as vice president and secretary/treasurer.

    The National Neurotrauma Society seeks to accelerate research that will provide answers for clinicians and ultimately improve the treatments available to patients. It is open to scientists interested in neurotrauma research and promotes excellence in the field by providing opportunities for scientists, establishing standards in both basic and clinical research, encouraging and supporting research, and promoting liaisons with other organizations that influence the care and cure of neurotrauma victims.

    Floyd is the holder of the Women’s Committee of Spain Rehabilitation Center Endowed Chair in Rehabilitation Neuroscience Research and the director of Research for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The central focus of her research is to develop new treatments for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

    She earned her doctorate from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University and did postdoctoral training in traumatic central nervous system injury research at the University of California, Davis. She joined UAB in 2006.

    She serves as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her research is currently supported by the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health and private organizations including the National Football League.

  • A researcher in motion, chasing trials and trails
    Epidemiologist Olivia Affuso studies new ways to prevent obesity and chronic disease through physical activity. She also volunteers with two groups that use running to help women and girls achieve fitness and personal goals.

    As a member of UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Center for Exercise Medicine, Olivia Affuso, Ph.D., has a clear goal: preventing obesity and chronic disease through physical activity. During many of her evenings and weekends, she helps women and girls put these ideas into practice.

    Affuso, an associate professor of epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health, has developed a patent-pending, photography-based method that could change the way obesity interventions are measured. She is also a board member of the Birmingham Council of Girls on the Run, an international organization that uses running “to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident,” Affuso said.

    Girls on the Run Birmingham has served more than 1,000 girls in third through fifth grades at schools around the Birmingham area since 2011. The program, which combines group runs and lessons on everything from bullying to teamwork, “is for every girl,” Affuso said. “We use running as a creative, fun activity to help the girls learn to establish goals and healthy habits.”

    Finding your own happy pace

    During each Girls on the Run season, in spring and fall, Affuso and the group’s other board members “adopt” the teams at participating schools. Each team is led by volunteer teachers and coaches from the school; in spring 2015, there were 17 teams at 14 sites. Affuso usually volunteers for the long-distance treks, bringing a small token of appreciation for the coaches and a healthy snack for the students. “For the past few seasons, I’ve worked with a team in Sylacauga, and with the Boys and Girls Club team in Montevallo,” she said. “I am willing to drive wherever I am needed to support the girls.” At the end of each season, the teams gather for a 5-kilometer race. This spring, nearly 260 girls from the program completed their goal at Veterans Park in Hoover, along with friends and others from their communities.

    Girls on the Run isn’t about competition, Affuso said: “Everyone is encouraged to go at her own happy pace.” When she runs on her own, Affuso pushes harder. Since taking up the sport as a master’s student at Georgia State University, she has steadily increased her mileage, completing her first marathon in 1999. In March 2014, she attempted her first 100-mile race, Alabama’s Lake Martin 100. Bad weather forced the vast majority of participants to drop out; Affuso made it 62 miles before stopping. However, she conquered the 100-mile challenge this past September at a race in Michigan, finishing in 29 hours and 17 minutes. Her goal is to complete a 50-kilometer trail race in all 50 states.

    Curves and computation

    In her lab, Affuso is tackling another daunting challenge. In this case, the hurdles are technical — is it possible to use simple photos to accurately estimate a person’s body composition? Studies examining obesity interventions generally use body mass index (BMI) to determine whether participants are successful at losing weight. To measure BMI, all you need is a participant’s height and weight and a calculator. But this simple formula is also imprecise. People with lots of muscles may appear overweight, for instance, and those who are tall can appear normal or even underweight, when they actually have too much body fat. A much more accurate way to measure body composition is the DXA (pronounced dex-a) scan, but these expensive machines are not portable and aren’t widely available for clinical or field research.

    Affuso had an idea for a better approach. Previous studies had shown that trained DXA technicians could accurately guess a person’s body composition before they were ever measured by the machine. Affuso wanted to see if she could mimic that judgment using digital photographs and some advanced computer algorithms. Her initial project was funded by Max Michael, M.D., dean of the School of Public Health, in the school’s annual Back of the Envelope Awards competition. After a successful pilot test with that funding, Affuso is now in the fourth year of a five-year, $2.5 million NIH study to test the idea at scale. The Photobody study is enrolling 2,000 men and women, ages 6–70. To help the computer detect body contours, men have to wear spandex shorts, and women wear shorts and a close-fitting top. Eventually, Affuso hopes to have the system work with minimal everyday clothes. (Learn more about the work in this UAB Magazine feature.)

    “We know the process works,” Affuso said. “Now we’re breaking it down to questions like, How well does it work with women in a certain age group, or with different racial/ethnic groups?”

    The power of nudges

    Affuso recently launched a new technology-based study exploring movement and motivation. She is recruiting both college-age women ages 19–30 and girls ages 8–11 in order to study their responses to new wearable activity trackers, like the popular Fitbit bands. (Her study is using the MovBand, primarily because of its objective measurement of physical activity and long battery life, she says.) Affuso wants to know whether participants will actually use the devices in their daily lives. Then she plans to see whether the immediate feedback the trackers give on activity can help the women and girls stay more active. “What we want to do is reduce the amount of time they’re being sedentary,” Affuso said. “Even if someone exercises 30 minutes per day, if they spend the rest of the time being sedentary, they’re likely to have negative health effects.”

    Affuso plans to create challenges that indirectly get participants to move regularly, “without saying explicitly, ‘You need to walk more’ or ‘You need to go for a run,’” she said. “It’s using the behavioral economics model of nudging.”

    Community in motion

    At the end of the workday, Affuso hits the trails — often in the company of runners from one of many groups in Birmingham. Since 2011, she has been involved with the national organization Black Girls Run, which encourages black women to run by building a safe, supportive community. She was one of the founding ambassadors of the group’s Birmingham affiliate, which was the first in Alabama. “We started with 10 people, and now we have more than 4,600 women on our Facebook page,” Affuso said. “We have at least seven opportunities to run during the week here in Birmingham,” she added, and there are also groups running in Anniston, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Montgomery. “The success of this group relies heavily on the tireless volunteers and dedicated runners,” Affuso said.

    The members of Black Girls Run also help to support the Girls on the Run participants by serving as running buddies during the annual 5K race, or becoming “SoleMates” — raising money by asking people to sponsor them for a race. “It can be any running event,” Affuso said. For her SoleMate challenge, she chose the Leadville Marathon in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, which involves climbing “to over 13,000 feet of lung-crushing elevation,” she said.

    Charting a course to Birmingham

    Affuso, who is originally from Orangeburg, South Carolina, earned a master’s degree in sports nutrition at Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in nutritional epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I was very interested in the interaction between diet and physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes,” she said. “While at Georgia State University, I worked on projects with elite athletes as well as community-based interventions — both of which included a diet and exercise component.”

    In 1999, as she started her doctoral work in Chapel Hill, Affuso met UAB’s David Allison, Ph.D., at a conference, and the two researchers kept up with each others’ work. In 2006, after Affuso finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami, Allison invited her to give a seminar at the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “I had never visited Alabama and wasn’t thinking about moving here,” she said, “but once I came and saw the resources that UAB had available and the opportunity and the entrepreneurial spirit, it turned out this was a good place for me to be.”

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UAB Research News

  • Research says ‘play value’ gap exists between playgrounds in affluent and nonaffluent communities
    Play is an important part of child development, and a UAB student research project shows that disparities exist between play spaces depending on where one lives.

    Parks with low play value have physical and social barriers for play activities. These include limited open areas with closely mown grass for open play, and lack of security fencing. Such park environments serve only limited play purpose, with static rather than dynamic features of play equipment, and do not support children’s daily requirements for physical activity. Parks with low play value often lack environmental biodiversity features or loose play materials for manipulation.The play value of parks, playgrounds and open play spaces is higher in affluent communities than in nonaffluent communities, according to research from occupational therapy students in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions.

    The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, suggest that the disparity in play spaces can affect the physical and psychological health benefits that children receive from play.

    Play value refers to the usability of any environmental features or play areas as a setting for play, generating diverse play opportunities and experiences that suit various children’s needs, motivations and abilities.

    “Children learn through play, and studies have shown that access to safe, well-designed parks provides health benefits to children,” said Gavin Jenkins, Ph.D., OTR/L, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy who mentored the student research project. “Understanding the quality of play environments will help communities ensure that all children have access to imaginative, stimulating play environments.”

    The four UAB OT students, Amy Maher, Emily Rose, Kristina Gregory and Megan Cotton, studied six parks in Mountain Brook, Alabama, and five parks in Irondale, Alabama. According to the most recent United States Census Bureau American Community Survey, the median annual income for Mountain Brook ($131,281) is more than double that of Irondale ($50,157), which is below the U.S. average. 

    The students, paired in teams of two, conducted independent evaluations of each play park using the Playable Space Quality Assessment Tool, or PSQAT. The PSQAT provides scores based on location, play value, and care and maintenance. Mountain Brook’s median scores were nearly 50 percent higher in play value (61.00 vs. 43.50) and care and maintenance (76.43 vs. 53.57) and almost double Irondale’s location score (82.14 vs. 47.14).

    “The children who were actively using the Mountain Brook play spaces appeared to have all needs available, such as clean restrooms, accessibility to play structures and spaces, and cleared walking surfaces,” Maher said. “There was also a noticeable sense of safety as police or maintenance was present while the children engaged with other children in their play environments.”

    The student authors say parks with high play value draw children and young people to visit, and also provide opportunities for a variety of play activities, including allowing children to adapt park elements for their own play purposes and support free exploration.The student authors say parks with high play value draw children and young people to visit, and also provide opportunities for a variety of play activities, including allowing children to adapt park elements for their own play purposes and support free exploration. These characteristics of parks entice children and young people to return time and again for repeat visits.

    On the other hand, parks with low play value have physical and social barriers for play activities. These include limited open areas with closely mown grass for open play, and lack of security fencing. Such park environments serve only limited play purpose, with static rather than dynamic features of play equipment, and do not support children’s daily requirements for physical activity. Parks with low play value often lack environmental biodiversity features or loose play materials for manipulation, the authors suggest.

    “Studies like this could be used to help communities determine how well they are doing, but perhaps more importantly help them to prioritize the improvements needed to their sites,” Jenkins said. “This study provides a further window into the challenges of providing suitable play environments and opportunities for children and young people who live in low-income neighborhoods.”

    “Improving parks and playgrounds would encourage families to use the play spaces, and that in-turn would give children more access to active play, which is central to child development and social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being,” Maher said.

    The students’ research was part of their final research project supported by their Occupations of Infants, Children and Adolescents class in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program. As part of the program, the students learn the importance of play, stages of play, functions of play, and more, for their careers as OTs.

    In the conclusion of this study, the students noted that their research provided them “a further window into the challenges of providing suitable play environments and opportunities for children and young people who live in low-income neighborhoods.”

  • UAB faculty recognized nationally for biomedical research
    Sorge honored as a young leader in the field of pain research and neuroscience by national organization.

    Robert Sorge, Ph.D., was named one of seven Rita Allen Foundation Scholars for 2015. Sorge is an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

    The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program supports basic biomedical research in the fields of cancer, immunology and neuroscience. Scholars are early-stage investigators and leaders in their respective fields who are advancing our understanding of the human condition.

    Sorge’s research is primarily in the field of neuroscience, specifically focused on pain. His lab explores the interplay between addiction and pain, as well as the role of the immune system in pain sensitivity. As a scholar in pain research, Sorge will be granted $50,000 per year for up to three years to support his work.

    The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program has supported more than 140 scientists since 1976. The program embraces innovative research with above-average risk and groundbreaking possibilities. Scholars have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

    “By investing in outstanding biomedical scientists at the early stages of their careers, we are providing resources to these scholars to pioneer new approaches and discoveries,” said Elizabeth Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the Rita Allen Foundation. “Researching basic biological questions is essential to improving human health and alleviating suffering caused by cancer, chronic pain, mental illness and other maladies.”

    Sorge joins a prestigious class of scholars, with other recipients representing Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and others.

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