The Vice President of Research at MIT, Maria T. Zuber, invited faculty and postdocs to MIT’s Postdoc Appreciation Lunch, which was held on Monday, September 19th at Morss Hall in Walker Memorial, in celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW). The US House of Representatives formally acknowledged this week in 2010, to highlight the tremendous contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to American research and innovation.

MIT chose to recognize the importance of mentoring in the postdoctoral experience by creating the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award. The goal of the award is to honor and acknowledge MIT PIs for excellent postdoctoral scholar mentoring, and to recognize both the value of quality mentoring and its impact on the career path of postdoctoral scholars. The award highlights the unique opportunities and challenges of mentoring postdoctoral scholars, who are poised to become the next generation of academic and scientific leaders.

The primary nomination had to be submitted by a current MIT postdoctoral scholar, with supporting statements from additional current and past postdocs. The nominees were reviewed on the following criteria:

  • Excellence in fostering and encouraging professional skills development and growth towards independence
  • Ability to foster an inclusive work environment where postdoctoral mentees across a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives are empowered to engage in the mentee-mentor relationship
  • Ability to support postdoctoral mentees in their pursuit of a chosen career path
  • A commitment to a continued professional mentoring relationship with mentees, beyond the limit of the postdoctoral term

Over thirty people across MIT were nominated for the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award, with Professor Muriel Médard winning the award. She was pleasantly surprised at the Postdoc Appreciation Lunch with the announcement of the award and the gift of a plaque, in the presence of her five current postdoctoral associates. Prof. Médard said of the event: “Of all the considerable pleasures and privileges of faculty life, certainly working with postdocs is one of the greatest. I am honored and deeply touched that the MIT Postdoctoral Association (PDA) awarded me the PDA’s inaugural Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award, from over thirty nominations over all of MIT. Thank you to all of my postdocs, past and present.” Our congratulations and appreciation go out to Professor Médard on this well-deserved accomplishment!