Post Doctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral scholars at UCSC participate in cutting edge research backed by the resources and benefits of the University of California statewide system while enjoying a collegial atmosphere and scenic location unique to UC Santa Cruz.

What is a postdoctoral scholar? 

A postdoctoral appointment is a temporary one designed to give individuals an opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The time spent as a postdoc is in preparation for a career progression in academe, industry, government, or the nonprofit sector. For many, especially those in the physical and life sciences, postdoctoral work is a critical step in securing future employment.

A postdoc is an individual who:

  • Will pursue a full-time program of advanced training and research under the direction of a faculty member with an appointment in an academic department or organized research unit.
  • Will be supported by campus research grants or contracts, by fellowships administered by the campus, or by other external sources.
  • May not have had more than five years of postdoctoral experience, including at other institutions.
Mentoring and Training of Postdoctoral Researchers

At the University of California, postdoctoral experience emphasizes scholarship and continued research training under the oversight of a faculty mentor.
“Faculty mentors are responsible for guiding and monitoring the advance training of Postdoctoral Scholars. In that role, faculty mentors should make clear
the goals, objectives, and expectations of the training program and the responsibilities of Postdoctoral Scholars. They should regularly and frequently communicate with Postdoctoral Scholars, provide regular and timely assessments of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s performance, and provide career advice and job placement assistance.” (Academic Personnel Manual 390-6 – Responsibility).

What is mentoring?
Scientific mentoring is a personal, one-on-one relationship between a more experienced scientist and a junior scientist through which the trainee receives guidance an encouragement that contributes to professional development.

Why should you be a good mentor?
Good mentoring should be viewed as an essential ingredient for ensuring that the postdoctoral-mentor relationship is professionally productive Mentors also often mention deriving personal satisfaction in helping nurture the next generation of scientists.

Traits of a good mentor
• Accessibility: An open door and an approachable attitude.
• Empathy: Personal insight into what the trainee is experiencing.
• Open mindedness: Respect for each trainee’s individuality and for working styles and career goals that may be different from those of the mentor.
• Consistency: Acting on your stated principles on a regular basis.
• Patience: Awareness that people make mistakes and that each person matures at his or her own rate.
• Honesty: Ability to communicate the hard truths about the trainee’s chances of success.
• Savviness: Attention to the pragmatic aspects of career development.
• Trust: As a mentor you are privy to considerable information about your trainee, including accomplishments, failures, financial situations and possibly even
personal information. Information should be treated as confidential so your trainees feel they can trust you and share their ideas and problems with you.

Strategies for Effective Mentoring in your Lab
• Make everything a learning opportunity
• Set specific goals and measures of accomplishment
• Encourage strategic thinking and creativity
• Uphold professional standards
• Impart skills
• Provide networking opportunities
• Give moral support

Thinking About a Postdoc?
Current Postdocs           
Additional Resources