Activities & Initiatives

Science Events

Student/Postdoc Summer Seminar Series

Each summer, the PDA hosts a weekly seminar series for Rockefeller postdocs and students.  Each session consists of two ~20 minute talks followed by a few minutes of discussion. Afterwards there is a reception that allows the scientific discussion to continue beyond the allotted presentation time. If you're interested in participating stay tuned for announcements in the spring for more information or please contact us at

Past seminar series:
Tri-I Postdoc seminars

Social Events

Here are some of the parties that the PDA sponsors and/or organizes. If you have ideas for other events, we might be able to sponsor them, as long as postdocs from more than one lab attend.

PDA Campus Parties

The PDA organizes two campus-wide parties annually, for all members of RU - postdocs, students, faculty, administration, and staff - to come and socialize with appropriate drink and calorie contents. Some of our previous themes have been:

Summer 2013: Summer party!
Summer 2012: Wine and Cheese with live music
Winter 2011: DJ Juan with dance, ethanol and middle-eastern inspired dinner
Summer 2010: Summertime Jazz with wine-and-cheese, live music
Summer 2009: Outdoor BBQ, DJ Juan's music medley and open-air dancing
Summer 2015: Featuring musical guests 'The Southern Blots'

Each of our parties attracts a few hundred people, so its always a great and fun way to meet new people!

Intra-lab BBQs

The PDA sponsors postdocs for up to $150 to host their own inter-lab BBQs. Please email us for approval at least two weeks ahead of time and CC us on your invitation email, so that we can make sure that our one simple condition is met: Postdocs from >1 lab should attend your party. Upon approval and your Inter-lab BBQ taking place please email the PDA for reimbursement.

Intra-RU Pool Tournament

The PDA sponsors two fun events each year on campus-the pool tournament and the darts tournament. This is a fun play-off at the Faculty club, with lots of beer and pizza to help the participants aim their strikes and the audience to cheer loudly. Look out for our emails advertizing these events each year. Email us if you want to spearhead these events, or if you want us to sponsor any other such events on campus (scrabble or chess, anyone?)

Superbowl Sunday, Soccer, Cricket...

The PDA sponsors beer and pizzas for Superbowl, World cup Soccer and World cup Cricket.

Click here for a photo from the superbowl party. 

PDA Luncheons

The PDA and Dean's office plan to host luncheons in the Abby Dining room for ~12 postdocs on a monthly basis. The seating arrangements will be aimed to facilitate interactions between postdocs from different labs.


The annual PDA retreat is perhaps the largest and most important of all PDA undertakings. Completely on our own, we organize a two day event outside of NYC in a scenic resort, where RU postdocs get to present their scientific acumen (as talks or poster sessions), and show off their non-scientific talents (dance, dinner-table quiz, afternoon volleyball, kayaking, etc). It is a matter of satisfaction for us to know that more than a few scientific collaborations were started by a chance meeting at our retreat!

13th Annual Retreat, September 6-7, 2018

Venue: Woodloch Resort, Hawley, PA
Keynote speaker: Scott Keeney (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
Panel participants: Paul-Andre Genest, Leslie Vosshall
Attendance: 85

12th Annual Retreat, September 14-15, 2017

Venue: Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY
Keynote speaker: Shirley Tilghman (Princeton University)
Panel participants: Jesse Ausubel, Rebecca Leshan, Haung Yu
Attendance: 117

11th Annual Retreat, September 21-22, 2016

Venue: Interlaken Inn, Lakeville, CT
Keynote speaker: George Yancopoulos (President & CSO of Regeneron)
Panel participants: Richard Lifton, Imran Babar, Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, Nadim Shohdy, David Pompliano
Attendance: 124

10th Annual Retreat, September 16-17, 2015

Venue: Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, NY
Keynote speaker: Oliver Hobert (Columbia University)
Panel participants: Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Sid Strickland, Emily Harms, Andrea Morris, Paul Cohen
Attendance: 133

9th Annual Retreat, September 11-12, 2014

Venue: Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk, NY
Keynote speaker: Rob Martienssen (Cold Spring Harbor Labs)
Panel participants: Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Sid Strickland, Emily Harms, Leslie Vosshall, Daniel Mucida
Attendance: 108

8th Annual Retreat, September 17-18, 2013

Venue: Water's Edge Resort & Spa, Westbrook, CT
Keynote speaker: Ruslan Medzitov (Yale Medical School)
Panel participants: Kate Ross, Emily Harms, Daniel Kronauer, Jim Darnell
Attendance: 104

7th Annual Retreat, September 12-13, 2012

Venue: Interlaken Inn, Lakeville, CT
Keynote speaker: Pamela Silver (Harvard Medical School)
Panel participants: Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Mary Beth Hatten, Sohail Tavazoie
Attendance: 89 participants

6th Annual Retreat, August 3-4, 2011

Venue: Ocean Place Resort & Spa, Long Branch, NJ
Keynote speaker: Tom Maniatis (Columbia University)
Panel participants: Sean Muthian (Pfizer), Nina Papavasilou, Sid Strickland
Attendance: 94 participants
Photos: (from Yingpu Yu, Rice Lab)

5th Annual Retreat, August 4-5, 2010

Venue: Skytop Lodge, Skytop, PA
Keynote Speaker: Richard Axel (Columbia University)
Guest Faculty: Fred Cross
Attendance: 84 participants

4th Annual Retreat, September 21-22, 2009

Venue: Hudson Valley Resort, Kerhonkson, NY
Keynote Speaker: David Roth (New York University)
Photos: (from Daniel Andor, Hudspeth Lab)

3rd Annual Retreat, 2008

Venue: Water's Edge Resort and Spa, Westbrook, CT
Keynote Speaker: Tom Pollard (Yale University)
Attendance: 97 participants

2nd Annual Retreat, 2007, September 21, 2007

Venue: NY Botanical Gardens, Bronx, NY

1st Annual Retreat, 2006

Venue: NY Botanical Gardens, Bronx, NY

Career Development Awards

The PDA Career Development Award was established to help postdocs and research associates attend career development events. Application for award will be open twice per year (Spring and Fall) and will consist of 10 awards to attend scientific conferences and meetings (max $500) and 10 awards to attend non-scientific career development events (max $1000). A postdoc can only be awarded the PDA Career Development Award once during their time at RU.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria:

  • All Rockefeller postdocs may apply for the award, however preference will be given to postdocs in their 2nd-5th years at RU.
  • The award cannot be used for travel to job interviews.
  • Awards are intended for future meetings or events within 1 year of the application date. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis for past events that occurred within 5 months of the application date.
  • Awards for scientific conferences and meetings will be given only to those postdocs who present a poster or talk at the conference and who have not attended similar meetings during their time at RU.
  • Eligible non-scientific career development events include workshops, courses, mini-MBA programs, and other similar events. If you are not sure about an event’s eligibility please contact the PDA.
  • The award is intended for the event specified during the application process. However, in some cases the award may be used for a different event provided the PDA is notified at least 30 days in advance and the new event meets PDA guidelines.

Application Process:

  • Twice a year (Spring and Fall) the PDA will send out an application form to all postdocs and research associates. Applicants will be required to provide the name, location, and date(s) of the event for which the award is being requested.
  • The application window will be open for 1 month.
  • Those selected will be notified by email shortly after the close of the application window.


  • Recipients are required to submit receipts for reimbursement no later than 30 days after the date of the event.
  • Reimbursements will require all relevant receipts, proof of attendance, and proof of either poster or oral presentation in case of scientific conferences.
  • Expenses eligible for reimbursement are registration fees, travel and lodging costs

PDA Career Development Mini-Award

Separately from the full Career Development Award (above) the PDA will also sponsor for up to $100, attendance at various local career development events such as (but not limited to) the RU Consulting Bootcamp, the ‘What Can You Be with a PhD Symposium,’ and other similar events.

  • Opportunities will be announced by email as they occur throughout the year. All postdocs are eligible to receive this subsidy, even those who have already received the full Career Development Award.
  • For each event awards will be given for a limited number of postdocs on a first-come first-serve basis.
  • The PDA will continuously look for local career development events. However, postdocs who find events that are not advertised by the PDA are encouraged to ask the PDA about eligibility.


Career Development


Outside the Ivory Tower: A Guide for Academics Considering Alternative Careers. Margaret Newhouse. Office of Career Services, Harvard University, 1993.
Alternative Careers in Science, Second Edition: Leaving the Ivory Tower (Scientific Survival Skills), Cynthia Robbins-Roth, Editor, Elsevier Academic Press, 2006
Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Madhavan, Oakley and Kun, Editors, 2008.
Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development, Toby Freedman, 2008, Cold Spring Harbor Press

PDA in print

Science/Nature etc

  1. "Sustainability in Science: A Nature Biotechnology article by Rockefeller PDA members Aakanksha Singhvi and Pallavi Sachdev summarizing discussions during the 2009 PDA retreat.
  2. "Paying the rent", Nature Jobs
  3. "Rental Disagreements", Nature Jobs
  4. "Location, location, location", Nature

Natural Selections

The PDA co-sponsors together with the Dean's office Natural Selections, the Rockefeller University monthly Newsletters ( We also regularly contribute articles about current initiatives, meetings with the administration, or social and science related events that we organize and/ or sponsor. A list of past articles can be found here.

RetreatScience EventsSocial EventsCareer Development AwardsCareer DevelopmentPDA in printScience EventsStudent/Postdoc Summer Seminar SeriesEach summer, the PDA hosts a weekly