A brief history of establishing the PDA

Back in 2012, Dr. Silvia Vilches, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Sociology at SFU started the SFU post-doc cafe, a mailing list intended to provide a forum for SFU postdocs to communicate with each other, organize social and professional activities, and liaise with the SFU administration. The members of the nascent organization had several meetings.

From 2012 to 2013 Silvia Vilches served as the first SFU PDA representative to the national postdoc association, the Canadian Association for Postdoctoral Scholars (CAPS). Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Gladys We, also from the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows (OGSPF) provided great support to the emerging postdoc association.

In May 2013, Sue Hampton was appointed Coordinator, Postdoctoral Fellows & Professional Development Programs at the OGSPF. Sue Hampton was key to get the support from the OGSPF to enable several postdoc initiatives.

The first Postdoc Welcome event at SFU took place in September 19, 2013, sponsored by the OGSPF. Sue's help also helped ensure postdoc representation from SFU at the national CAPA/CAPS meeting in Montreal in November 2013.

In December 2013 Jackie Amsden replaced temporarily Sue Hampton in the function of Coordinator for Postdoctoral Fellows (until December 2014). Jackie's support was crucial to ensure the help of the OGSPF for the postdoc intiatives that took place in 2014.  

A meeting was called by Mario Jardon on May 29, 2014, to call for the formation of a formal postdoctoral fellow association at SFU, elected and governed by postdocs with the ability and mandate to represent the entire SFU post-doctoral community. Participants at this meeting agreed to hold elections for a Postdoctoral Association (PDA) at SFU, to broaden the base of participants so as to include more postdocs in the formation of the PDA, and to develop the necessary documentation to form the PDA, notably a constitution of the association.

A second meeting took place on June 13, 2014. An Interim PDA Committee was formed to call for nominations and coordinate elections, to be held in July. By June 20, a website for the soon-to-be SFU Postdoctoral Association was developed by Dr. Mélanie Courtot, with the valuable assistance of Gladys We from OGSPF. In June 23, Mario submitted a draft Constitution for review by the Interim PDA Committee, to be approved by the post-doc community during elections.

Finally, on July 7, 2014, elections were held at the Burnaby Campus to elect the four-person team to lead the SFU Postdoctoral Association with full representation capacity for the SFU postdocs: Dr. Emma Griffiths (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), PDA President; Dr. Melanie Courtot (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), VP Communications; Dr. Cynthia Gershome (Biomedical, Physiology, and Kinesiology), VP Finance; and Dr Mojtaba Komeili (Engineering Science), VP Operations.

Written by Mario Jardon