The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Annual Conference is the largest national meeting and networking event dedicated to postdoctoral scholars, and the 20th Annual Conference was held at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 21–April 22. As the 2021–2023 SOT Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA) Executive Board Secretary, I attended on behalf of SOT. There were over 400 attendees at this year’s NPA conference. The attendees comprised of postdoctoral scholars, administrators, faculty, and representatives from disciplinary societies, industry, and corporations. This diversity provided excellent networking opportunities for postdoctoral scholars who represent the next generation of research, academia, and industry.
This year’s NPA conference sessions covered a wide range of topics of interest to postdoctoral scholars, such as career and personal development, career navigation from postdoctoral scholar to faculty or industry, career growth, mentorship, diversification, and growth of the scientific workforce. Other conference activities included exhibitions from sponsors, networking breaks, a poster and networking reception, and the presentation of poster awards/prizes.
During the poster and networking reception, attendees had the opportunity to network and present their posters. Over 25 posters were presented on topics related to data on national postdoctoral membership; expansion of postdoctoral associations; professional development of postdoctoral scholars; mental health awareness in the postdoctoral community; postdoctoral women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); diversity; and postdoctoral activities in various professional organizations. I presented the SOT PDA poster which was well received, especially because of the PDA structure, membership, diversity, job board, professional resources, and yearly activities. Additionally, it was recognized that SOT is one of only a few societies to have Postdoctoral Assembly Executive Board Officers who are elected to fill voluntary postdoctoral positions that represent all postdoctoral scholars in their society.
During the conference, there was a career fair that was designed to facilitate the transitioning of postdoctoral scholars and graduate students into the academic and industry job markets. The career fair also provided postdoctoral scholars the opportunity to network with organizations and discuss career opportunities.
Overall, the NPA conference has served as a channel through which the SOT PDA is able to share knowledge about the group with postdoctoral communities outside SOT, gain ideas through the NPA education and career development sessions, and learn how to improve our community. The NPA Annual Conference was also a great space and resource to make connections with potential webinar and session speakers for the upcoming year. The PDA Executive Board hopes to continue to represent SOT at the NPA Annual Conference and incorporate the ideas gained to enhance the SOT PDA activities.