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Professional Development Courses and Workshops

Build Your Skills, Expand Your Career Horizons

At Stony Brook, postdocs have a number of opportunities for professional development, including occasional seminars, workshops, short courses, and sometimes the opportunity to audit graduate courses for free. This page provides an overview of some of these offerings, but new opportunities and resources are always becoming available. Postdocs should make sure they are subscribed to the Postdoc Update for more up-to-date news and opportunities. 


Career Exploration & Preparation

Planning Your Path to a Satisfying Career

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs regularly offers Planning  Your Path to a Satisfying Career, which is a career self-assessment and planning workshop for graduate students and postdocs. Typically offered once every semester, this workshop encourages postdocs to broaden their horizons about the types of careers that might suit their interests, skills and values. Participants leave this two-hour workshop with a first draft of a career action plan, often called an Individual Development Plan, or IDP. Postdocs supported by NIH funding are expected to have an  IDP. 

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PhD Career Ladder Program 

PCLP Ladder LogoThe PhD Career Ladder Program, or PCLP, provides  postdocs with small-group career mentoring. PCLP groups meet once a month and follow a structured curriculum of steps that take participants "up the ladder" of career development from self-assessment and skill identification to informational interviews and resume coaching. PCLP provides peer support to postdocs in their preparation for any career path, providing a framework of skills useful for any job search. Newly funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, PCLP has recently expanded to serve postdocs across any field as well as graduate students from both the sciences and humanities. Postdocs interested when the next postdoc PCLP group will start should contact the organizers at

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Career Center 

Stony  Brook is fortunate to have a Career Center with a full-time advisor for postdocs, Assistant Director Alfreda James, PhD. Dr. James offers one-on-one advising and resume review, in addition to a wide array of career resources and programs, such as employer career fairs, resume bootcamps, negotiating workshops, and other services. For more information and to make an appointment, visit the Career Center's website. 

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Communication & Writing

Communicating Science

Deep Mukherjee at 2017 Postdoc SpotlightLooking to enhance your ability to talk about your research to anyone?  The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science offers a series of 1-credit graduate-level modules on their innovative communication techniques for connecting with an audience. Interested participants are recommended to begin with 503 and 501.

Postdocs:   A limited number of seats are reserved in most Alda Center courses* for postdocs to enroll "free" as an auditor.  Postdocs may only sign up for one class per semester, and must sign up  during course registration each semester by contacting the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at .  Only two seats per section are available on a first come, first served basis. Postdoc enrollment typically opens mid semester for the next semester's courses. 

*Postdoc enrollment is available in JRN 501, JRN 502, JRN 503, JRN 508, JRN 509, and JRN 512. 

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Graduate-Level Writing

WRT 621: Graduate-Level Writing: The Program in Writing and Rhetoric will offer a course each semester, WRT 621, Graduate-Level Writing, designed for students in all disciplines.  The course will be a workshop that allows the students to work on whatever writing they are currently doing in their graduate programs, whether course papers, lab reports, reviews of research, publishable articles, or theses.  The students for the course will be from all disciplines and they will learn from each other as well as from the instructor.  The course will concern itself with all the fundamentals of writing, from considerations of grammar and punctuation, to rhetorical considerations of audience, evidence, inference-drawing, sentence and paragraph construction, and organization.

JRN 502: Communicating Science: Writing to Be Understood: This course is offered by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and focuses on writing strategies. Students develop their ability to write about science or health for a public audience without “dumbing down” their material. The course focuses on such forms as letters to the editor, blogs and op-edits. See the course schedule for more information. 

Postdocs seeking to enroll should  contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs .


Spotlight bannerStony Brook's Postdoc Spotlight is an opportunity for postdocs to hone their communication skills by presenting their research for a general audience in only five minutes. These bitesized talks provide an exciting snapshot of postdoctoral research for our campus community, drawing a full house from across campus. Postdoc speakers receive intensive coaching on their talks from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, providing them with tools for talking about their research with any audience. Prizes are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place talks. The Postdoc Spotlight is held annually during the Fall semester. 

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Digital Humanities

Humanities Institute at Stony Brook  

The Humanities Institute at Stony Brook offers a rich slate of seminars and programming throughout the year. The Institute promotes interdisciplinary research and collaboration across the university through conferences, lectures, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, film series, and performances.

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Library resources on Digital Humanities

The Library provides a series of resources, research guides and workshops on digital humanities for the SBU community. 

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Entrepreneurship & Innovation


Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry

The  Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry Program is an innovative, one semester, evening program designed to  provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the Bioscience Industry from target identification through commercial application.  This program is targeted toward graduate students and postdocs seeking to facilitate commercial activities within their academic labs or enhance their knowledge of the commercial sector in order to transition into non-academic careers .

Postdocs may enroll, but typically must pay full tuition. Talk to your supervisor to see if funding may be available. 

Created by the  Center for Biotechnology , this highly interactive program gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the development of commercialization strategies around real intellectual property and business issues.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Increased marketability for participants by expanding their education beyond the typical classroom
  • Practical, hands on work with technologies to advance an invention through to commercialization
  • Connections made with industry leaders through on going classroom interaction
  • Access to a network of over 300 program alumni providing career opportunities, mentoring, professional development and social interaction


For more information: Contact Kate Hutchinson at the   Center for Biotechnology  

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How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad

Have an interest in entrepreneurship and building a startup company? Consider enrolling in  "How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad."   This hands-on course teaches how to take a business from idea to startup under the guidance of experienced mentors. Teams going on to form companies will receive post-class assistance and can go on to compete in the SB Entrepreneurs Challenge. 

Offered each Fall and Spring semester, crosslisted as BUS 364/EST 364/BUS554/EST534.

Hear Steve Blank, internationally recognized Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, describe the course: 

Note that pre-requisites can be waived with permission of the instructor. 

Postdocs seeking to enroll should contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Wolfie Tank

Wolfie Tank is a pitch competition based on the model of the popular TV show, Shark Tank. Members of Stony Brook's community showcase their social entrepreneurial ideas in presentations to a panel of judges. Winners of the competition can receive seed money to proceed with their idea. Wolfie Tank is typically held each  November. 

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innovation Lab

Stony Brook's Innovation Lab provides a maker space for our community to think, create and innovate, providing the tools to see new ideas come to life. The facilities offer a range of equipment and tools, from 3D printers to sewing machines to laser cutters to visualization tools. Drop in or sign up for a workshop or training. 

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Policy & Decision Making

GRD 520: Introduction to Science Policy

This one credit graduate course offers graduate students and postdocs an introduction to science, technology and innovation policy. Scientists and engineers who take this  course will: learn how science influences the rules and regulations that affect the public, make connections with science policy experts, and stay informed of opportunities in the world of science policy. The course meets for two hours a week for ten weeks, featuring guest speakers  from the science policy community on such topics as: communication for scientists and engineers, policy for science, the history of science policy, science advocacy, science from the Inside, and the scientific workforce.  Participants will write two one-page policy memos. 

Postdocs seeking to enroll should contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

JRN 511: Scientific Communication for Decision Makers

Learning how to effectively communicate science to decision makers is increasingly important for
scientists and health professions. This interactive course provides students with the skills, practice and knowledge needed to clearly and vividly communicate complex science to decisions makers (e.g., Congress, local officials, community groups, etc.) in a variety of forums and settings.

Postdocs seeking to enroll should  contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs . 


Teaching, Outreach & Mentoring

Center for excellence in learning & teaching (cELT)

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) offers training on classroom technolocy, pedagogy and other teaching and learning methods. CELT also offers consultation on both instructional design and assessment. You can see a full list of their upcoming events  here

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Opportunities for outreach, teaching, & mentoring

Stony Brook offers a wide array of opportunities for experience in educational outreach, teaching and mentoring. The programs listed below are an example of some of these opportunities. For assistance in connecting with these programs, contact the Director for Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, Kathleen Flint Ehm. 

SBU Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program: WISE's honors curriculum for undergraduate women often seeks instructors for its courses, such as their Introduction to Research course. These short research courses can be the perfect, postdoc-sized teaching assignment. 

iSTEM: iSTEM is a hub for dozens of K-12 outreach programs with schools here on Long Island. iSTEM also has consulted with students, postdocs and faculty seeking help in designing outreach programs for grants, such as for NSF broader impacts projects. 

Alda Center's Science Unplugged: The Alda Center for Communicating Science offers a two-semester outreach opportunity for alumni of its core courses to bring science talks to local schools. 

Brookhaven National Lab's K-12 educational outreach programs: Brookhaven National Lab's Office of Educational Programs brings in K-12 school groups all throughout the year, and offers opportunities for postdocs to help support these initiatives. 

IRACDA NY-CAPS Postdoctoral Training Program: The Center for Inclusive Education's NIH-funded IRACDA program offers a unique research and teaching training program for postdoctoral scholars in the biological sciences. Applications are accepted annually. 


How To Enroll


Postdocs who wish to earn credit may  enroll as non-matriculating students  in the School of Professional Development, and may have  tuition assistance  available through their employee benefits (State and Research Foundation employee postdocs).  Postdocs  may also be able to audit some courses for free, but should first talk to the course instructor. In the case of communicating science courses from the Alda Center for Communicating Science, a limited number of postdocs may enroll free of charge through  the  Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.  

To sign up for occasional seminars, workshops, and short courses, contact the event organizers.