Course helps postdocs build lab-management skills

schwiebert inside“I thought back to when I was a very new junior faculty member and had no idea how to balance a budget,” said Lisa Schwiebert, Ph.D., associate dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and course instructor.

The Office of Postdoctoral Education will offer a free, three-month lab-management course for graduate students and postdocs 2-4 pm. Wednesdays through November in Shelby Biomedical Research Building Room 105. To register, email postdocs@uab.edu before Sept. 5.

This course, which is offered each fall, will explore topics such as constructing and managing startup budgets, hiring and firing best practices and data management. It is part of a larger initiative implemented during the past decade to provide UAB postdocs more and different career-development opportunities, said Lisa Schwiebert, Ph.D., associate dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and course instructor.

Partnering for success

The idea for the course arose in 2009 through Schwiebert’s discussions with the UAB Postdoctoral Association, a volunteer organization that advocates for the interests of postdoctoral scholars at UAB.

“They said, ‘We need this information as we move into junior faculty positions, but also to include on fellowship applications,’” Schwiebert said. “That made a lot of sense. I thought back to when I was a very new junior faculty member and had no idea how to balance a budget.”

Lab Management CourseClick to enlarge

The course also is live-streamed to postdocs at the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine in Huntsville, Alabama, to make the information more widely available. Several postdocs at HudsonAlpha, who did graduate work at UAB, learned about this and reached out to ask how they could participate, Schwiebert said.

A continued commitment

The lab management course taught in the fall is one of two annual courses the Office of Postdoctoral Education teaches each year; they also offer a course on grant-writing during the spring semester. Creating new courses that are flexible, free of cost and  relevant to postdocs are some of the ways Schwiebert and others in her area are advocating for postdocs at UAB.

“We are fighting for them to be visible and to have a voice,” Schwiebert said.