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Department of Plant Sciences

The Department of Plant Sciences has a thriving postdoc community, with regular events, including lunches, social occasions, talks by invited external speakers and sessions on everything from public engagement to pensions. The Department's Postdoc Committee oversees these activities and maintains the Department's postdoc mentoring scheme. In addition to this, the Committee also acts to represent the views of postdocs, assesses the postdoc needs in the Department and carries out an annual survey. 


Postdoc committee

The postdoc committee facilitates communication between postdocs and the Department and function as a first point of contact between both parties. Postdoc committee meetings are organised in Michaelmas, Lent and Easter terms, two weeks after the start of term. Members of the committee can be contacted by e-mailing Current members of the committee are:
Dr Kumari Billakurthi (Chair) Chairperson
Dr Cristina Sales (Co-Chair) Postdoc Welcome Event Co-organiser
Dr Sarabeth Buckley  
Dr Patrick Dickinson  
Dr Eftychios Frangedakis Postdoc Welcome Event Co-organiser
Dr Humberto Herrera Ubaldo Postdoc Social Events Co-organiser
Dr Eva Herrero Serrano Postdoc Lunchtime Seminars Co-organiser
Dr Gabriela Pingarron-Cardenas Postdoc Social Events Co-organiser
Dr Bhavani Natarajan Postdoc Lunchtime Seminar Co-organiser


Postdoc representation

It is important to the Department that the views of our postdocs are represented, and for this reason postdocs sit on many of the Department's important committees from health and safety to equality and diversity. Currently the following postdocs sit on the following Department committees.
Staff committee
Health and safety committee
Biological safety committee
Equality and diversity committee
Eftychios Frangedakis
Internal seminar series organiser


Postdoc survey

A survey of postdoc opinion within the Department is held every year. The Postdoc Committee and the Department use the results of this survey to act on the issues raised and to implement solutions. The results of the latest survey along with details of how the Postdoc Committee and the Department are acting to resolve the issues raised in the responses to the survey can be seen on the Department's intranet.


Postdoc events 

On the first Friday of the month postdocs in the Department meet for a postdoc lunch, each time covering a different topic, such as funding or teaching opportunities. The sessions are often delivered by external speakers that are invited by the committee to present and are usually held in the large lecture theatre or seminar room. Its a great opportunity to meet fellow postdocs 


Past postdoc events 

  • In 2018 more than 60 participants took part in the joint retreat for Cambridge Plant Science postdocs at the Postdoc Centre in Eddington. This event was the first of its kind and included participants from the Department of Plant Sciences, Sainsbury Lab, NIAB and Department of Chemistry. The aim was to generate inspiration, ideas for possible career paths and increase networking. It was organised by the Postdoc Committee and supported by CambPlants.

  • In 2018 the committee organised a session on outreach programs with Chantal Helm as well as a meet a member of the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge session.

  • In 2017 at the postdoc lunch on teaching Julia Davies and Matt Davey presented a talk about what supervising and demonstrating are like and about the opportunities and training offered by the Department.

  • In 2016 the Postdoc Committee organised a session on pensions as part of its postdoc after work series and a lab supervisor information session  delivered by Part II Senior Examiner Julia Davis. See a full list of the 2016 postdoc events.

  • In 2015 postdoc sessions included a lunch with acting Head of Department Professor Alison Smith, a discussion with Dr Mariana Fadenza on innovation and enterprise, a presentation about OpenPlant Fund by Jennifer Molloy and sessions on mentoring schemes and how to get the best from mentoring delivered by Dr Sharon Saunders. In addition to this was a session on teaching opportunities by Katherine Hubbard and a presentation on EU Marie Curie funding applications delivered by Graham Dransfield from the University's Chemical Engineering Department.

  • In 2015 the committee also organised a series of public engagement and outreach sessions with speakers including Nicola Buckley (Head of Public Engagement, University of Cambridge), Harriet Truscott (Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme), Elisabeth Burmeister (Events and Outreach Manager, Sainsbury Lab) Dr Mariana Fazenda (Innovation and Enterprise Project Officer, CambPlants) and Dijana Maric (Project Coordinator, Department of Plant Sciences).