OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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What is a Postdoc?

Trainee appointments:

Postdoctoral Scholar

A mentored position that is restricted to individuals who have received PhDs (or comparable advanced degrees) within five years and with a three-year maximum term at OSU. Postdoctoral Scholars are mentored by professorial faculty members and they train within faculty research programs. As trainees rather than employees, their work is  primarily for their own professional development.  At least 15% of their time must be devoted to professional development activities outside of their reserach training activities.  An Individual Development Plan (IDP), co-developed by the mentor and the Postdoctoral Scholar, defines the scope, goals and anticipated products from research training and professional development activities. The best measure of success for a postdoctoral trainee position is subsequent employment as a fully independent researcher. Health insurance is paid for Postdoctoral Scholars through the grant or contract that funds their stipends.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Similar to Postdoctoral Scholars, but fellows are typically awarded a fellowship independently by a federal or private agency. These are short-term research appointments (typically two to three years maximum) under supervision of an OSU faculty member. Health insurance is required and provided by OSU but paid by the Fellow or funding agency. The Office of Post-award Administration manages the financial aspects of these positions and the Office of Postdoctoral Programs provides professional guidance and training opportunities.

 

Employee appointment: 

Research Associate (Postdoc)

This is a position of indefinite length, which can progress into a career position of Research Associate. Research Associates are supervised by professorial faculty members; they provide support for faculty members and they provide support for faculty research programs. There is no explicit expectation for professional development other than what supervisors normally provide to all employees.  The Research Associate position is a faculty position carrying normal benefits provided to all non-classified employees of the University. The Office of Human Resources establishes policies and provides information about these positions as they do all other employee categories.

Courtesy appointment: 

Courtesy Postdoctoral Scientist

Similar to Postdoctoral Fellows, “Courtesy Postdoctoral Scientists” are funded externally – typically by a foreign government or agency or by a grant or contract managed by another university – and they work at OSU for a fixed time period under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Some Courtesy Postdocs may be funded by a grant to another institution and work at OSU temporarily as part of a multi-institutional collaboration. International and Faculty Services provides support on international issues and the Office of Postdoctoral Programs provides professional guidance and training opportunities for Courtesy Postdoctoral Scientists.

Lynissa R. Stokes, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Associate - College of Public Health and Human SciencesJun Yong Kang - Postdoctoral Scholar - Carter Research GroupMark Albins - NSF Predoctoral Fellow - Hixon Lab - ZoologyRebecca A. Hutchinson - Postdoctoral Fellow - School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The President's Task Force on Postdoctoral Appointments

In 2007 President Ray organized a Task Force to examine how to manage postdoctoral appointments at OSU. Specifically, this task force looked at appropriate classification, appointment procedures, compensation and benefits; how the postdoctoral experience at OSU can be enhanced; and appropriate centralized support systems for postdoctoral scholars.

The Task Force recognized that there is a traditional category of postdoctoral employee titled, “Research Associate (Postdoc)” at OSU and proposed adding a postdoctoral trainee category titled “Postdoctoral Scholar”. This position was established in 2008. Although some of the duties of these two postdoctoral positions are similar, there are also crucial distinctions. OSU’s Postdoctoral Scholar position follows recommendations for postdoctoral scholars established by the American Association of Universities, Committee on Postdoctoral Education, Report and Recommendations, March 31, 1998, as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation (see: Reed Letter).