Recently, seven postdoctoral scholars shared their research with fellow academics and graduate students in the Werklund School of Education.
The event, entitled Generating Possibilities Through Postdoctoral Scholarship, loosely followed a PechaKucha format, which lets speakers present up to 20 slides for 20 seconds each. Topics covered included research into ways to reduce weight bias, experiences of first-generation Canadians in informal science settings, gender in mathematics education, and HIV vulnerability among Brazilian newcomers to Ontario.
“PechaKucha allowed us to create concise presentations so that all seven postdoctoral scholars were able explain their diverse research projects in four minutes,” says Diane Watt, who helped organize the event.
Dean Dennis Sumara says he is not surprised by the quality of the work the postdocs have undertaken and that their impact was felt immediately upon their arrival at the school.
"Here in Werklund we recognize the valuable contribution that postdoctoral scholars make to teaching and research. We have been fortunate to attract a number of outstanding postdocs whose energy, expertise and passion continue to benefit students and colleagues alike, while also supporting the university in reaching its Eyes High goals."
When asked why they felt it important to share their work publicly, the postdocs agreed that they wanted to connect with the education community and demystify what it is they do at the University of Calgary.
“One of our goals was to discuss with graduate students some of the possibilities available to them for enhancing their research opportunities and career through postdoctoral scholarship. We are always happy to help graduate students and I’m happy that we were able to create a space to do so,” says Miwa Takeuchi.
“This event was a great opportunity for us to share our work and research interests with the education community,” adds Monica Sesma-Vazquez. “Also, we hoped to have a dialogue with faculty members about ways to maximize our postdoctoral scholarship at Werklund.”
During the question period that followed the presentations, the discussion focused on how to capitalize on the expertise of postdocs — a subject about which post-secondary institutes have more to learn, says associate professor Gene Kowch.
“The proliferation of postdoc positions in universities is relatively new,” he explains. “As an organizational theorist I wonder if we know enough about how our institutions can maximize their innovation potentials while serving their needs and their growth as future colleagues. This is fertile ground area for studying the new university itself, I think.”
Plans have been put in place to hold another event next year, based on positive feedback from students and academics in attendance.