Professional development

Career development and mentoring

Career resources


Preparing Future Faculty program at VCU

The PFF program offers a series of short courses and professional development opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in higher education. PFF courses introduce students to the roles and responsibilities of higher education, address teaching and learning issues in the college classroom and provide supervised internship opportunities. Postdoctoral scholars at VCU are eligible to take these courses with permission of the PFF program. Postdoctoral scholars taking these courses may be eligible for tuition assistance.


Mentoring is recognized as an important component to career success in the academic environment. The following links provide several resources related to mentoring and being mentored.

The NSF is now requiring mentoring plans in all proposals that include postdoctoral scholars.

How-to talks by postdocs

VCU Libraries, the Wright Center, and the VCU Postdoctoral Association sponsor a yearly series of talks given by postdocs to the VCU health sciences community. These are not research seminar talks, but an opportunity for postdocs to hone their science communication skills by informing the public about how to do something related to their research, teaching, or career development. Successful speakers have engaged audiences with a wide variety of topics ranging from how to perform immunohistochemistry to how to use social media to promote your personal scientific brand. Postdoctoral scholars receive individualized training from series runners, to support their efforts in this new type of speaking engagement, and have the opportunity to attend How-to Talk Sponsored Sessions, which feature leaders in education and science communication from the VCU community. Postdocs are eligible to compete for the VCU Science Communication Award when they are accepted to speak in this series.

VCU Postdoctoral Association

PDA listserv

Stay up to date with PDA via the listserv. Please email to enroll. 

VCU PDA on Twitter

PDA travel awards program

The PDA at VCU offers need-based travel awards in the amount of $700 dollars to select individuals to help defray meeting travel expenses. Four awards are offered in the spring and fall semesters, and three awards are offered in the summer.

How to apply

  1. Sign up for the PDA listserv and/or follow on Twitter @VCU_PDA.
  2. Watch for the call for awards announcement.
  3. Submit the abstract title, abstract and author names along with proof of submission of abstract to the meeting. Then include a letter identifying why you need this award.
  4. Additional instructions are included in the call of awards announcement and any questions can be directed to

Postdoctoral recognition program

Want the PDA to tweet out about your newly published paper? Did you just receive a F32 or K99? How about a pat on the back for that presentation at that awesome conference? PDA would like to highlight the accomplishments of postdoctoral fellows at VCU. Please send an email to with a few sentences about your accomplishment (or a postdoc that you think needs recognition), and PDA will contact you so that we can recognize amazing postdoctoral fellows over social media.

National Postdoc Association

npa logoVirginia Commonwealth University has purchased a sustaining membership from the National Postdoctoral Association. This entitles everyone who is affiliated with VCU to obtain a free affiliate membership in NPA. Anyone who has an email address with the domain can join NPA for free. All you need to do is complete an online or paper enrollment form using your VCU email address. Affiliate members receive a modified package of benefits, including subscriptions to NPA publications, access to members-only web content and eligibility for NPA committee service. Please note that affiliate members are not eligible to vote or serve on the NPA board of directors. Affiliate members who wish to vote or serve on the board should join NPA as full individual voting members (dues is $35).

Click here to begin an affiliate member enrollment.

Postdoctoral Independent Research Award (PIRA)

Postdoctoral Services, in collaboration with the VCU Postdoctoral Association, has established a grant program to provide VCU postdocs an opportunity to pursue independent lines of scientific inquiry. The goal is to assist postdocs in establishing themselves as independent researchers.

Applications are due Aug. 1. Awardees will be announced during National Postdoc Appreciation Week in mid-September. Two to four grants of $5,000 each will be awarded each year.

To be eligible for this research grant program you must meet the following three requirements:

  1. Your initial appointment as a postdoc at VCU must be prior to Sept. 16 of the previous year.
  2. Postdoctoral Services must have verification that you have completed an approved Responsible Conduct of Research course within the last four years.
  3. You have not previously received one of these postdoctoral independent research awards.

PIRA application