Professional Development

Getting Engaged: The votes are in for SFU's first ever Postdoctoral Fellows Association

July 08, 2014

SFU’s first ever Postdoctoral Fellows Association (PDA) is officially up and running.

A four-person team was elected to lead the organization during a campus vote yesterday.  

“A postdoc is a time of transition—you don’t necessarily know where you are going next or what the next step looks like. An association like this can help a lot with that,” said Dr. Emma Griffiths (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), PDA President.

While working as a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University, Griffiths was involved with starting an association there—a group she credits with connecting her with a group of people that could understand and help each other navigate the challenges of this very uncertain phase.

Dr. Philip Mwimanzi (Health Sciences) echoed Griffiths’ comments, noting that when he came to SFU it was his first time in Canada and he was shocked there were no peer-led groups to help him cope with his adjustment,

“My last postdoc was in Japan, where all the foreign PhDs and Postdocs knew each other and spent time together. Here, I was only exposed to one other fellow in my lab. It was very isolating.”

Griffiths would like to see the association help postdocs not only feel more engaged with eachother, but also improve the effectiveness of their fellowship appointment.

“We’re not students or faculty, but were not employees either. As trainees it’s often difficult to get the mentorship we need. After we formed an association at McMaster, we were able to do things that crystallized our status so that administration and faculty could understand our role and what they could do to help us. That is one of the goals that I would like us to see work towards at SFU.”

Other officers voted into the PDA include: VP Communications - Dr. Melanie Courtot (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), VP Finance - Dr. Cynthia Gershome (Biomedical, Physiology, and Kinesiology) and VP Operations - Dr Mojtaba Komeili (Engineering Science).

If you would like to join the Postdoctoral Fellows Association or become involved, please contact:

Dr. Emma Griffiths at or visit their website

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