Welcome to The Crimson Chronicle, the PDA Council Newsletter for the Harvard Public
Health Scientific Community. The Newsletter is intended to provide a variety of information including, but not limited to short articles, resources, views, comments, and opinions for Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates, by Postdoctoral Fellows,
Research Associates, and other members of our Scientific Community.
State of the Union-Christian Suharlim, PDA President
Spotlight On-Sylvia Ley, PDA Treasurer and Research Associate, Nutrition Department The Research Associates Corner
Nanocourses Travel Awards
Recent PDA Council Sponsored Events Editors Column and PDA Contact Information
PDA Council Newsletter HARVARD | T.H. Chan SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Edited by Gillian Franklin, MD, MPH, PhD
Photograph by Gillian Franklin The Jet dEau Fountain (Lake Geneva) Geneva, Switzerland
My fellow members of the Postdoctoral Association: It is my upmost pleasure to update you on our organization. Recently, some of you may have participated or instructed a nanocourse series. This initiative, led by our council advisor Usheer Kanjee and educational initiative chair Shoukai Yu, is geared towards providing teaching experience for Harvard Chan postdoctoral fellows and research associates. We have executed two out of the eight nanocourses planned to date, educating and having engaging discussions with more than 150 participants, from interns to professors, medical practitioners and directors from the greater Boston area. This is a very exciting opportunity that you do not want to miss. Further, we launched the school wide Peer Grant Network, a novel initiative to help new researchers navigate the realm of grant writing. The PDA grant and research strategy chair Alex Carll, has successfully piloted this initiative in the environmental health department for the past few years, and we are thrilled to bring this initiative to all researchers at the school. I would also express my deep appreciation to our vice president Morteza Asgarzadeh, treasurer Sylvia Ley, and secretary Fred Tabung, who tirelessly advocate for PDA members. As a result of their work, the Deans office and the Office of Faculty Affairs supported our budget increase request. This will accommodate our new initiatives as well as support the recently integrated research associate members to our social functions and travel awards. The Kocaeli International Travel award in Turkey has been a great success for the past four years. In addition, we have been working to establish new international collaboration with Matsushita Institute (Tokyo), Universitas Udayana (Bali), and Universitas Indonesia (Jakarta). Like you, I have high hopes that we can soon have additional international award opportunities for PDA members. To date, the PDA consists of 324 Postdoctoral research fellows and 152 research associates. More than half are international researchers representing 55 countries around the globe. Coming from Indonesia, I myself experienced the much-needed sense of community and belonging at the school. The PDA gave that to me. I am thankful to have worked together with very bright people around me while building strong friendship that could last forever. This is a humbling experience for me. I invite YOU to join us, and together we can create a better Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Yours truly, Christian Suharlim, MD, MPH
Tell us a little bit about yourself I am a Research Associate in the Department of Nutrition training under the primary mentorship of Dr. Frank Hu, and I am the treasurer for the Postdoctoral Association Council. I tell people that I am from Toronto, but I spent earlier years in a small town East of Toronto. Tell us about your research. The topic of my research is dietary approaches to prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes. I also have special interests in pregnancy and the lifecourse. I am currently a research team member of gestational diabetes sub-cohort within the Nurses Health Study II, called the Diabetes & Womens Health Study. Why did you come to Harvard? When I was a doctoral student attending a conference, I walked into a Kelly West Award lecture, honoring an outstanding diabetes epidemiologist from the American Diabetes Association. I sat in a huge auditorium filled with diverse audience from basic scientist to diabetologist, and witnessed the awardee, a nutritional epidemiologist delivering a captivating lecture. I remember thinking I want to be like him when I grow up. He, Dr. Frank Hu, is my primary advisor at Harvard. What would you have been doing if you were not a postdoc here at HSPH? I would be involved in similar research work elsewhere. Best and worst things about Boston? Having access to research facilities and mentorship within the walking distance of Longwood area is truly incredible. I am also amazed by how vibrant the
city of Boston is! We have newcomers from everywhere, but many dont stay here long to get to know them well. Whats your favorite place to eat in town? I went to the Elephant Walk with my doctoral study advisor when she visited. She was impressed! Its a special place with warm (academic) memories. If you could be a superhero, what would your superpower be? Friends called me Bambi when I was younger because I used to fall like him (aka. Bambi-on-ice). He may not be a superhero, but he carries the inner strength behind his cutie looks. I admire that in a fictional fawn that turns into a full size buck.
A penguin walks through your door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here? (Stolen shamelessly from Huffpost in the past, and will continue the tradition!): I would have to ask a marine biologist about that, but this question made me to look up the nutrient composition of penguin meat.
What last fun question do you want to answer about yourself? I had a goldfish named "Finny" during my doctoral study. I used to talk to the fish and was convinced that she understood English. Since then, I have completed my doctoral thesis and regained my sanity. and if that does not make you laugh, I dont know what would
Dr. Sylvia Ley-Harvard Chan PDA Treasurer 2014-2015 has literally been the workhorse of our team. She has worked incessantly with members of the Harvard Chan community to make sure that we have funds for this year and beyond.
The PDA therefore chose Sylvia to be in the Spotlight! Thank you Sylvia!
Notes from David Gregory, Ph.D.
This academic years nanocourse series were coordinated by two of our incredibly talented PDA council members; Usheer Kanjee, PhD-Council Advisor and Shoukai Yu, PhD-Educaitonal Initiative Chair. According to Dr. Kanjee, these short, two-session courses aim to introduce a field of study to a general audience. Dr. Kanjee goes on to say that, in 2013, the PDA Council, in collaboration with the Curriculum Fellows Program, initiated a series of Public Health-themed Nanocourses, starting with "Public Health 101" that introduced the fundamental concepts of public health. Dr. Kanjee tells us that the impetus for this course was the realizations that while we are based at a school of public health, not all of the postdocs and research associates have formal training in public health, and there is a need outside of traditional coursework to communicate fundamental public health concepts to this audience. He says that, the Nanocourses have provided a valuable and sought-after opportunity for postdocs and research associates to obtain teaching experience.
Drs. Kanjee and Yu provided the following course schedule that covered nanocourses conducted over the past few months and upcoming nanocourses: Public Health 101: Health Decision Sciences (April 2015) Public Health 101: Environmental Health (May 2015) Public Health 101: Nutritional Metabolomics (June 2015) Public Health 101: Nutritional Epidemiology (October 2015) Fore more details on the Public Health 101 Nanocourse, please see our recent publication (http://goo.gl/SXWV3F) and visit the Nanocoursewebsite (https://nanosandothercourses.hms.harvard.edu/node/8) We are continually looking for postdocs who would like to get involved with the Nanocourses initiative. Please feel free to contact us: email@example.com for more information!
I am working with the PDA and Faculty Affairs to improve opportunities for involvement and advancement available to Research Associates (RAs). We now have access to the career development workshops run by Faculty Affairs, and to all the initiatives and activities run by the PDA. I am now trying to: 1) Increase research associates awareness and uptake of these opportunities; 2) clarify what a Research Associate position is, how it differs from Postdoc and Research Scientist (do you know? Nobody does?), and how we can advance; 3) Alter the title to something a little less damaging on the job market. Id love to receive your input and opinions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Best wishes, David
David, thank you for your efforts to improve RAs opportunities for collaboration and integration with the PDA.
Awards in the amount of $1,500 each, sponsored by the PDA, will be presented to eight winners annually, six postdoctoral fellows and two research associates (RAs). The purpose of the award is to promote the professional career development of postdoc and RAs in their field of expertise. Activities envisioned for this award included, but are not limited to, travel