About Kerstin and PostdocTraining
Depending on your definition of a postdoc, I have been one for a long time! In my research environment (university-based, in Queensland, Australia) an early career research-only academic on ‘soft’ money is considered a postdoc.
|A profile of Dr Kerstin Fritsches, published in Cosmos Magazine issue 7, 2006 © Cosmos Magazine www.cosmosmagazine.com.|
My research combines two great loves: neuroscience and the ocean. Essentially I’m interested in what fish can see, especially those living in the open ocean, where the light habitat changes dramatically with depth. I mainly work on large fish such as marlin, swordfish and tuna, as well as sea turtles. I use anatomical and electrophysiological techniques, and also behavioural paradigms (though definitely not with big fish that have swords for noses!).
During my first fellowship I established connections with researchers from the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Suddenly I had access to research vessels allowing me to get much closer to my study animals. Then the NMFS started a new project, screening the sensory abilities of open ocean fishes and sea turtles to find ways to reduce capture of non-target species. I got the gig to study fish and later sea turtle vision, with my collaborator and I the only non-US citizens on the project. This was partly because we were a rarity working with these animals’ vision, but also because we happened to be in the right place at the right time.
At the same time I got involved in postdoc issues with my Faculty, helping design policies and trying to implement them. It was a hugely rewarding and interesting experience, seeing all the competing interests and politics at the Faculty level, teaching me a lot about how difficult it is to implement anything in a big organisation.
As part of my part-position with the faculty I also managed career development seminars for postdocs. I ran these as networking sessions and got senior academics to speak about their careers, as well as recruiting external speakers to talk about skills essential to postdoc career development. The seminar series made me realise:
a. how much there is to learn about career development;
b. how much postdocs enjoy being exposed to new ideas and ways to be strategic about career development – and how little of this training they generally receive; and
c. how difficult it is to get support for such a program on a continuing basis within an institution.
And voilà – the genesis of PostdocTraining! Steve and I set out to create a private training program specifically for postdocs, funded by subscriptions of members. The aim is to provide current, unbiased and focussed advice and training on how to develop a highly successful career according to your strengths and preferences.
Steve has worked in business and government in the UK and Australia, with stints in scientific research and grant support. He has seen the grant game from the granting agency side and has been involved in high-level project management and mentoring.
I grew up in Germany and moved to Australia for my Masters (Diplomarbeit for those of you who know the German system), where I fell in love with research and Australia (Steve came a little later), so I stayed. Apart from being a postdoc and research fellow, I’ve also been involved in teaching, have coordinated my School’s Honours program for several years and have trained in facilitation and mentoring.
Where do we want to go with PostdocTraining? We think there is a great need for career development support for postdocs that goes beyond the existing, largely generic, theoretical and academia-biased advice. We want to provide practical support based on the reality of the postdoc experience and the circumstances you are actually in. Our mission is to help postdocs achieve their full career potential, wherever they decide they want to end up. We trust you to let us know when we succeed!
Kerstin, Steve and the PostdocTraining Team
If you like, you can circle me on my Google+ Profile.