Meet Michigan Medicine: Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

June 9, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,
A brief introduction to The Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, with team members faded in the background.

Picture this: You’re a “trainee” (postbac, grad student, or postdoc) at Michigan Medicine. Whether you decide to begin your search for a science career or are looking for ways of coping with stress, you’d be wise to make your way to the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) to engage in the programs, services and resources they provide year-round.

Indeed, OGPS offers various stakeholders a rich menu, including career services, wellness counsel, communication, training grant support — and more.

Here’s what you may not know about this small, yet important team that looks out for trainees at Michigan Medicine.

Career, professional development and wellness services for trainees

Preparing for current and future professional success

Graduate students and postdocs are remarkable in their own right for their dedication to discovery. For those who are ready to expand their network and skills beyond the lab or their specialized field, the career and professional development team (CPD) in OGPS is their next stop.

“The pandemic has made it clear that well-trained scientists are vital to society — to develop vaccines and therapeutics, to make the right policies, to communicate science well and in many other ways,” said Shoba Subramanian, Ph.D., head of the CPD team. “As the founding lead of a team that helps our trainees build the right skills to be successful in a range of careers, and helps them explore and achieve their career goals, it is humbling to think about the broad impact we can and are making.”

Two women stand next to each other in a hallway smiling at the camera.
Shoba Subramanian, Ph.D., left, and Maggie Gardner, Ph.D., right, in a photo taken pre-COVID-19.

The CPD team also includes coordinators Beth Bodiya and Maggie Gardner, Ph.D.

“It is exciting to lead a team where we collaboratively build innovative CPD modules, so our learners can engage effectively with our programs. This is apparent by the constant thank you notes we receive from various stakeholders,” said Subramanian.

Bodiya, Gardner and Subramanian collaboratively plan and develop the content for CPD programs. As a former U-M postdoc, Gardner leverages her experiences and institutional knowledge to build rapport with trainees and provide individualized support during advising appointments.

“Helping students and postdocs navigate the intersection of their scientific interests and professional goals is one of the most energizing and satisfying aspects of my role,” said Gardner. “My science background and experience as a U-M trainee puts me in a unique position to connect with our audience.”

Getting trainees back on course

At times, academic dedication and personal demands may push personal wellness to the backburner. Or a traumatic event — or global pandemic — throws trainees off course.

The OGPS wellness counselors, Kate Hagadone, Ph.D., and LaNeshia Murphy, offer trainees short-term individual counseling on emotional personal, family and academic/workplace issues. Clients can confer with these specialists in one to six counseling sessions a year, as the situation demands.

“We all have mental health and our well-being is critical to our ability to thrive academically,” said Hagadone. “Having embedded counselors who understand the unique needs of OGPS trainees helps to provide tailored services, including brief counseling, support and skills groups, and outreach. We provide around 400 individual appointments each calendar year, with an average number of sessions per client of 3.6.”

Hagadone and Murphy are experienced, fully-licensed psychologists working with students, trainees, faculty and staff in a wide variety of settings. In addition to the 1:1 counseling, groups and outreach, the Health & Wellness Team also organizes free yoga classes taught by a certified instructor every Monday and Thursday.

The Postdoc Office

Within OGPS, the Office of Postdoctoral Studies serves postdoctoral research fellows, postdoc administrators and faculty mentors within the medical school. The office partners with the Rackham School of Graduate Studies on main campus to facilitate a monthly postdoc orientation and, day-to-day, connects postdocs with the abundant resources available at U-M. 

The Postdoc Office is led by Michele Swanson, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology, and longtime advocate of postdoctoral researchers, and postdoc coordinator Beth Bodiya. Together they provide guidance on postdoc policies and compliance, curate a monthly newsletter for postdocs, The Postdoc Pulse, and liaise with the Michigan Medicine Postdoc Senate and broader U-M Postdoctoral Association (UMPDA), who serve as a voice for postdoctoral fellows. They also host a bi-annual Postdoc Preview event to recruit top talent to Michigan Medicine and further diversify the postdoc community.

“With close to 600 research fellows contributing to the research enterprise at Michigan Medicine, we are grateful to collaborate with postdocs, their departments and mentors to ensure a successful launch into their independent careers,” said Bodiya.

Bodiya’s goal is to support postdocs during their time at Michigan, orienting them to the university and Ann Arbor, helping them navigate policies, and advancing their transition to independent careers after their postdoctoral training.

Administrative, staff and program support

Support from OGPS doesn’t end with students and postdoctoral fellows. Graduate programs are supported as a whole with marketing and communication advising, budget allocation and training grant support. 

OGPS also manages recruiting and admissions for the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) — a first-year graduate program that enables students to rotate between different program specializations to find the best fit for them.

In all, OGPS is an ambitious team with an ambitious goal — providing support both today and in the future to acquire a broad portfolio of skills that equip U-M’s future scientists to thrive in their career and contribute to the organization’s mission of advancing health to serve Michigan and the world.

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