July 2021

SURPAS Council Meeting Agenda

Wednesday, July 28th , 2021 11:30am-1:00pm 

Location: Zoom



  • Acknowledgment statement, inc group norms/mutual respect (2’) 
  • Welcome, Zoom etiquette (2’) 
  • Introductions and approval of minutes (5’)

8 new postdocs introduced, minutes approved (Vimala and Rohini)

  • Updates (10’)
    • Call for nominations for postdoc representatives for Faculty-Senate Committees
      • C-LIB
      • C-RES
      • C-ACIS

Postdocs that served on the committees spoke about their roles on them. 

C-RES: Meets once a month, provides input on policies related to research.

C-ACIS: Meets about 5 times, Storage on computers, establishing better wifi connection on campus, online tools that are available to students. 

C-LIB: Draft resolution to Open access policy so that research from Stanford is accessible to the wider community. Met approximately 6 times. 

Nominate yourself and elections will happen at next month’s council meeting. 

  • Guest Speaker: Sarah Heilshorn
    • Chair, Provost’s Advisory Committee on Postdoctoral Affairs (PACPA)

Committee reports to PGE and considers policies that relate to postdocs (benefits, appointment, ect…). Postdoc representatives are at the PACPA meetings but can reach out anytime. Background degrees in Chem Engineering, postdoc in Cell Biology then joined Stanford, interdisciplinary research. Protein engineering to create materials for human tissues, collaborate with Med School and train trainees from different backgrounds. Spoke about her trajectory and career path. Took over as chair right when COVID started and have been involved in those related changes since then. Husband is also a Faculty member. Sarah then opened the floor to questions.


Tim: What role a postdoc really plays in academia, how can we build in some stability to postdocs? 

Roles of postdocs on campus: Is evolving over time, and getting Stanford admin to recognize the critical role postdocs play as both researchers and educators which has been more so embarrassing now. Previously thought of like staffed scientists but now understanding more of the training to undergrads and education that they provide. Have talked about some of the structural barriers that there are. PACPA wanted to increase the PRISM program which would diversify the postdoctoral community, but some people were not interested in applying because they felt unwelcome by Stanford. She is hopeful the program will continue to expand. Stability is a more challenging thing to craft policy around because it is all based on research funding. 

Tim brings up budget and funding: Sarah mentions that’s why it’s important to make administration aware of the importance of Postdocs. Previously Stanford said we have an obligation to the University mission (as educators and doing impactful work). Previously a lot of pushback in taking University funds and applying them to postdocs because they weren’t students. Now Postdocs are considered now to include graduate students and postdocs together and understanding that they are both trainees. It was difficult to get to this step. There is still a pushback on fundraising so PACPA needs to convince them. To endow anything will require fundraising. Stanford wants to avoid large amounts of layouts which is what that rainy day fund is for. Sarah agrees endowments for postdoctoral training should be the goal. 

Ioana: Issues we’re having is that some University Admin don’t listen to postdocs all the time. Is PACPA serving Faculty or Postdocs

PACPA has an obligation to both Faculty and Postdocs and only advisory but cannot set policies. Ex. suggest the salary changes but the policy needs to be approved by the administration. There is a healthy tension between balancing the sources from postdocs and faculty, maybe don’t hear enough from administrators. PACPA argued for transportation benefits, housing is a chance to make the biggest change but have to have the University admit that postdocs are integral to the community. Good to have new members on PACPA and continue communication with SURPAS. Change happens slowly. 


Eamon: Easier to raise money for postdocs if they’re trainees. Are we students or employees?

PACPA hasn’t had as many meetings because of COVID but Sarah mentions that if lean into postdocs are trainees and that they’re our future faculty members this identity allows the argument to the University to put more money into postdocs. Also responsibility to train them (ex. IDPS). Makes the case to Stanford that they have an ethical obligation to produce a diverse group of postdocs that will become the best professors. Leaning into postdocs in the trainee role is Sarah’s personal take. Stanford has recently expanded money for OPA and new hiring of staff to create better programs and data collection. 

  • Council Member Elections (10’)
    • Peng Gao
    •  Panjamaporn Sangwung

Peng: Managed financial records, used Granted for reimbursements, wants to provide support to underrepresented groups. VOTED IN (14 yes)

Pam: experience in lab management, familiar with Stanford Oracle financial systems to purchase reagents for the lab, also used Granted. VOTED IN (14 yes)

  • Leadership positions voting (20’)
    • Co-chair- Chuchu Wang  
    • Financial Officer – Peng Gao and Panjamaporn Sangwung

Chuchu (Co-chair): Was previously elected FO but she is an HHMI postdoc and having issues with policy so now running for co-chair. One thing to figure out as co-chair is how to fix the problem above for future postdocs in this situation. Wants to invite postdocs to talk about their stories in an article. 

Ioana question: How do you feel about working with Stanford admin, how would you approach these offices? 

Chuchu says she needs to talk to the Dean about changes with GrantED so that all postdocs have access. 

Tim: Hypothetical situation about not being able to share to postdocs about eligibility of vaccines to postdocs?

Chuchu would follow policies but find other ways to find out what postdocs want to know. 

Eamon: Have you met with OPA in any capacity, what is your relationship like with them?

Chuchu has met with OPA and Stanford IT officer to try and figure out those issues. OPA helped to connect to initiate other conversations. VOTED in, (10 yes, 4 abstain)


Financial officer:

See above

Bradley: Any specific initiatives that you want to support for funding?

Peng: Wants to ask for more funding from University or School of Medicine to fund more social or research activities.

Pam: Can go to OPA or other source? Can maybe do some fundraising or ask for money from alumni. Want to go through VPGE or other sources for advice if not fundraising 


6 votes Peng, 5 votes Pam, 3 abstain

  • Symposium Committee Update(5’)
    •  David and Jason

Waiting to hear back on reimbursement. Theme is developing soft skills for the modern postdoc 

  • Postdoc Highlights (5’)
    • Solene will tell us about the Postdoc Highlights and her vision for the program

Advertising of postdoc publications on social media. 

  • Upcoming events (5’)
    • August Council Meeting – Thurs, Aug 26th
      • Elections for postdoc representatives for Faculty Senate Committees