Postdoctoral Scholar Support

Postdoctoral scholars at UC Santa Cruz 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 UCSC. In October, we celebrate postdocs with Postdoctoberfest!

The Division of Graduate Studies serves both postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. For assistance on postdoc issues, reach out to Vice Provost and Dean of the Division of Graduate Studies Peter Biehl, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Don Smith, and Professional Development Coordinator Sonya Newlyn.


Graduate Division Staff Supporting Postdocs
Peter Biehl Peter Biehl, Ph.D.
Vice Provost and Dean
Division of Graduate Studies
Don Smith

Don Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

Sonya Newlyn, professional development coordinator for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the Division of Graduate Studies Sonya Newlyn
Professional Development Coordinator for
Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

VPDGS Peter Biehl and Associate Dean Don Smith are available to meet with postdocs on any topic and work closely with the UCSC Postdoc Association (USPA) to support postdocs and their needs. Sonya Newlyn, in addition to providing professional development events, can offer help with or directions to the correct contacts to assist with resources listed on the left menu. Contact the USPA to get involved by emailing

The Graduate Division, in collaboration with campus partners, the USPA, and the Graduate Student Commons governance board, provides career and professional development events to both postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. Additionally, the USPA sponsors:

  • An annual postdoc research symposium in the spring
  • Social networking events for postdocs throughout the year

The Graduate Division and the USPA also co-manage a Google Group for postdoctoral scholars. If you have not been added to this group, email the USPA at to be added to it. USPA officers email the group to notify members about events and opportunities for postdocs.

What is a postdoctoral scholar? 

Postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs, are researchers pursuing additional training under the guidance of faculty mentors after receiving their Ph.D. “Postdoc” in this context refers to a specific training position and does not mean “anyone with a Ph.D.”

Postdoc positions are temporary and intended to provide experience and training for careers in academia, industry, government, or the nonprofit sector. UC Santa Cruz postdocs may not accrue more than five years of postdoctoral experience at other institutions prior to appointment at UCSC.

What do postdocs do?

Postdocs carry out research under the direction of faculty advisers in a manner similar to graduate student researchers. Postdocs are expected to be more independent and experienced than a graduate student. Postdocs often train and mentor graduate and undergraduate students while receiving mentorship from faculty members, making them an important part of the training environment.

In the academic year 2022-2023, UC Santa Cruz has postdoctoral scholars in the following departments:

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Arts Division
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Computational Media
  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Science
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environmental Studies
  • Feminist Studies
  • Film and Digital Media
  • The Genomics Institute
  • History
  • History of Consciousness
  • Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells (IBSC)
  • Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Latin American and Latino Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
  • Ocean Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP)
  • UC Observatories