Maximizing the Postdoctoral Period

Speakers: MIT faculty members

  • Catherine Drennan, HHMI Professor and Investigator, Departments of Chemistry and Biology
  • John Leonard, Associate Department Head/Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research

Professor Drennan's Presentation PDF

Hear suggestions from two MIT faculty members for getting the most out of an MIT postdoctoral experience. They will address questions and others you may raise, including:

  • Outside of research, what should a postdoc be learning?
  • What are some mechanisms to improve communication skills and other non-lab bench skills?
  • How can postdocs best prepare for faculty positions, and present themselves as compelling candidates?
  • What are effective strategies for evaluating and preparing for a nonacademic path?
  • What are ways to strengthen communication with faculty supervisors and other mentors?

About the Speakers:

Professor Catherine Drennan is a professor of chemistry and biology at MIT, and a professor and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She received an A.B. in chemistry from Vassar College, working in the laboratory of Professor Miriam Rossi, and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan, working in the laboratory of the late Professor Martha L. Ludwig. She was also a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Douglas C. Rees at the California Institute of Technology. In 1999, she joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has risen through the ranks to full Professor. Cathy’s research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology. Her laboratory seeks to understand how Nature harnesses and re-directs the reactivity of enzyme metallocenters in order to perform challenging reactions. By combining X-ray crystallography with other biophysical methods, her goal is to “visualize” molecular processes by obtaining snapshots of enzymes in action. Professor Drennan is one of four MIT professors who have been named 2015 MacVicar Faculty Fellows, awarded for exceptional undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and educational innovation.

John J. Leonard is Samuel C. Collins Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering and Associate Department Head for Research in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is also a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research addresses the problems of navigation and mapping for autonomous mobile robots.He holds the degrees of B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering and Science from the University of Pennsylvania (1987) and D.Phil. in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford (1994). Prof. Leonard joined the MIT faculty in 1996, after five years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Research Scientist in the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Laboratory. He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award (1998), an E.T.S. Walton Visitor Award from Science Foundation Ireland (2004), the King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Transactions on Robotics Paper Award (2006), and he is an IEEE Fellow (2014).

Both speakers serve on the MIT Faculty-Postdoc Advisory Committee.