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The Changing Landscape for Postdocs in the US: Potential Implications and Systemic Changes to Support Postdocs in the US Beyond the FLSA Ruling


for Members

The Changing Landscape for Postdocs in the US: Potential Implications and Systemic Changes to Support Postdocs in the US Beyond the FLSA Ruling

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By


This year changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) put into place a historic new rule changing the minimum salary level in order to be exempt from overtime ages. Effective December 1, 2016 salaried workers earning less than $47,476 per year are eligible for overtime wages, up from the previous threshold of $23,660. As a result, institutions have the option to increase the minimum salary for postdocs or to classify postdocs as hourly workers eligible for overtime wages if they work over 40 hours per week.

In this Webinar we will discuss the basic structure of the new rules, how institutions and NGOs are adapting to the changes, and the implications for the postdoc job market going forward. The second part of the Webinar will feature comments and feedback from the National Postdoctoral Association and the Future of Research organization, as well as examples from institutions like the University of California that have been implemented for postdocs and visiting scholars.

Some of the questions to be covered include:

  • Who is exempt from this new rule?
  • What are Institutions doing to support the new FLSA ruling? What about non-NRSA postdocs?
  • Which fields will be most heavily impacted by the rule and potential repercussions?
  • Would the number of postdocs decrease? How will research be affected?
  • What other aspects should be considered (parental leave, health insurance, and time off)?
  • What does this mean for the postdoc job market going forward?
  • How will international postdocs be impacted by this new rule?

This webinar is intended for graduate students considering postdoctoral positions, current postdocs and PI/institutions.

Organizer: Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD- The New York Academy of Sciences

Moderator: Alison P. Sanders, PhD- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Kate Sleeth, PhD - National Postdoctoral Association
Gary McDowell, PhD- The Future of Research
Sam Castañeda- University of California at Berkeley

Webinar Registration Pricing

Member (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow)$0
Nonmember (Student / Postdoc / Resident / Fellow)$10


Kate Sleeth, PhD

Board of Directors, National Postdoctoral Association

Kate Sleeth, Ph.D., earned her doctoral degree from the University of Reading in the UK investigating DNA repair mechanisms through biochemical approaches. She performed postdoctoral research at the University of Sheffield investigating DNA repair using molecular biology techniques. Sleeth then utilized both biochemistry and molecular biology as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Oxford optimizing a novel radiopharmaceutical.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope she transitioned into a role in the institutions Professional Education department.  She is currently the Associate Dean of Administration and Student Development.  She has international experience in science and public communications through scientific papers, a book chapter, high school visits, science festivals, posters, presentations and a blog on  Sleeth was involved with the Postdoctoral Association at the City of Hope for over 3 years, previously serving as social chair and President. She has been re-elected to her second term as a member of the National Postdoctoral Association Board of Directors where she currently serves as the Chair of the Board. She is also a member of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Gary S. McDowell, PhD

Executive Director, The Future of Research

Gary S. McDowell, PhD is the Executive Director of The Future of Research, Inc. and runs the day-to-day operations of the organization, funded by a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. From June, he will be based at the Manylabs open science workspace for a 6-month residency funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Gary grew up in Belfast, N. Ireland and then Elgin, Scotland. He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specializing in Chemistry, graduating in 2007, with both BA (Hons) and MSci. He did his master’s work in the lab of Professor Jane Clarke on the kinetics and thermodynamics of protein folding. He stayed in Cambridge, moving to the Department of Oncology in the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, to study for a PhD with Professor Anna Philpott investigating protein degradation in a developmental biology context, where he discovered the joy of working with the frog Xenopus. He graduated in 2011 and moved to Boston, where he spent 2 years as a postdoc in the lab of Hanno Steenlearning mass spectrometry and studying changes in protein levels during Xenopus embryo development. Then he moved to the lab of Michael Levin, Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology at Tufts University. There he studied the role of the cytoskeleton in early left-right patterning of embryos, again in Xenopus, until May 2016.

As coincidence would have it, during his time at Tufts, Gary began expanding his interest in studying the very scientific enterprise that Vannevar Bush proposed in Science: The Endless Frontier. He became involved with The Future of Research during the early days of the Boston Postdoctoral Association, and was an organizer as part of the team led by Jessica Polka and Kristin Krukenberg to generate the first Future of Research Symposium in Boston. He was an author on the resulting paper, Shaping the Future of Research: a perspective from junior scientists. He was co-lead organizer with Sarah Mazzilli for the 2015 Boston symposium, and attended all other FoR symposia in 2015, as well as co-chairing a workshop at the FOBGAPT meeting in Michigan. In 2016 he co-chaired a subgroup at an ASBMB-led national summit to identify action items to implement consensus recommendations identified by the biomedical research community, and as a result is currently driving efforts to better categorize postdoctoral researchers at universities.

Sam Castañeda

Director of the Visiting scholars and Postdoctoral Office, University of California at Berkeley

Sam Castañeda graduated with a B.A. in sociology from San Francisco State University, and has worked for the University of California (UC)—at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses—for more than 20 years. During this time, he created innovative programs that lent support to international students and scholars. Concurrently, Sam also held leadership positions with the California chapter of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. At the national level, Sam is currently chair of the newly recognized NAFSA Postdoc Special Interest Group and is the institutional liaison between NAFSA and the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA).

At UC Berkeley, Sam was instrumental in the development of the Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) Program- the first postdoc office in the UC system and one of the first in the United States.

As director of Berkeley’s VSPA Program, Sam is responsible for the oversight of postdocs at Berkeley, who are provided with a variety of professional support systems such as lecture series, networking events, and other tools which help to broaden career and professional development opportunities for Berkeley’s 1,500 postdocs. With an extensive international student and scholar background, Sam has won recognition for a variety of customized courses serving the international research community.

Sam is founder and managing editor of UC Postdoc Newsletter, an electronic journal that connects more than 6,500 postdocs with 500 faculty and staff administrators who work together to enhance the postdoctoral experience at UC.

Alison Sanders, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Alison P. Sanders is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) specializing in maternal and children's environmental health, molecular epidemiology, and epigenetics. She received her doctorate in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2013 and her MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2009. Dr. Sanders' academic training includes applied engineering, global health, toxicology, and epidemiologic approaches to address trans-disciplinary research challenges. Her work investigates the role of environmental exposures and epigenetics in preterm birth, a leading cause of infant mortality. She has authored 16 publications and delivered invited presentations to the CDC and NIEHS among others. In addition to her cutting-edge research, Dr. Sanders devotes her time to advocacy and education in the communities that surround her.

Dr. Sanders served as co-chair of the ISMMS Postdoc Executive Committee, a group committed to improving the postdoctoral training environment. In this role she oversaw a committee of 35 postdocs, interfaced directly with Graduate School Deans, and drafted policy for postdoctoral issues. She is also a founding member of the NYC Postdoc Coalition, a group that represents postdoctoral leadership from the 7 major NYC institutes and advocates on behalf on NYC postdocs. The Coalition includes approximately 20 members and collectively represents over 4,000 postdoctoral constituents. Lastly, Dr. Sanders directs a science communication and teaching program funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund that develops skills in lay and scientific communications for postdoctoral fellows. Her program has successfully trained 25 top postdoctoral scientists at ISMMS in communication with lay audiences through an 8-session short course followed by hands-on interactive instruction opportunities; 20% of the program's participants have already obtained their next jobs or received promotions.