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Rutgers Postdoctoral Association (PDA)


The Postdoctoral Career Development Program is open to all postdocs at Rutgers.

Dr. Martha Soto works with the postdoc officers of the Rutgers PDA (Postdoctoral Association) to host events specifically designed to support Postdoctoral Career Development. 

A Postdoc Appreciation Symposium is held every year in September (2015 was the 7th annual symposium). This is the largest single event for postdocs at Rutgers and also draws postdocs from all over New Jersey and nearby states--as well as graduate students who aspire to career advancement through having a postdoctoral appointment and tenure-track/tenured faculty and staff at Rutgers who want to support and improve the postdoctoral experience. 

The Postdoc Union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, works closely with the Postdoctoral Association (PDA). What's the difference between the two groups?

The PDA offers professional development workshops, while the union is direct empowerment to make current postdoc appointments more secure and to negotiate improvements in the terms and conditions of employment.

The union-negotiated Collective Agreement is a solid legal foundation underneath postdoc daily working conditions. Full union members are better informed about their employment rights and responsibilities and their membership ensures that the Postdoc Union continues to have legal standing to advocate for postdoc employment rights and benefits.

The Postdoc Union is of, for, and by postdocs at Rutgers--while other faculty have similiar self-representation in their respective bargaining units.  For example, the PDA's faculty advisor, Dr. Martha Soto, is an AAUP union member in the bargaining unit of the (former) UMDNJ faculty, now called the AAUP-BHSNJ (Biomedical and Health Sciences of New Jersey), the newest section of Rutgers University via merger. The merger of UMDNJ and RWJMS into Rutgers University created the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) campus and brought "Legacy UMDNJ" postdocs into Rutgers.

The existing Rutgers postdoctoral union is working closely with our new colleagues to bring them into the Postdoc Union because they were not unionized when they were UMDNJ postdocs and did not have a voice in their terms and conditions of employment. 

Postdocs are encouraged to join the union, changing the payroll deduction from the AAUP-AFT nonmember representation fee (required by New Jersey labor law) to full AAUP-AFT membership dues. Visit this page to learn more. If you're not sure if your position currently enjoys union representation, then contact the Postdoc Union at (732) 964-1000 and ask.

Here is the Postdoctoral Association's mission statement:

The Rutgers/RWJMS Postdoctoral Association (PDA) was formed in 2009.  The goal of the PDA is to improve the lives of postdocs at Rutgers, bring postdocs together, and to provide postdocs with career development programs and opportunities so that they are better prepared for the next stage of their careers.  To accomplish this goal, the PDA (President and officers) collaborates with Dr. Martha Soto, the Director of the RWJMS Postdoctoral Career Development Program, and staff assistant, Tina Cicolella, to organize monthly luncheons that cover all aspects of career development.  These luncheons expose postdocs to job skills training and feature invited speakers with broad expertise ranging from grant writing, to interviews skills, to time management, to non-traditional careers for scientist.  In addition, the PDA hosts an annual postdoctoral appreciation day symposium during National Postdoc Appreciation Week.  The symposium attracts postdocs, from all Rutgers campuses as well as scientist from the tristate area and highlights the excellent research of postdocs, educates postdocs about how to further their career development, and network with potential employers.

PDA Officers:

The current Postdoctoral Association (PDA) Officers are Dr. Stephen Shannon, Dr. Azadeh Jadali, Dr. Amber Krauchunas, Dr. Itzamarie Chevere-Torres, and Dr. Andre Wallace.

Dr. Stephen Shannon, PDA President, may be contacted via email: shannosg @

The staff person who assists Dr. Martha Soto is Tina Cicolella; reach her via this email address: cicoletm @

If you want to receive regular email alerts from the Postdoctoral Association, visit the following website and follow the links to sign up for the PDA email listserv:

Also, feel free to forward useful postings other postdocs may want to see to Dr. Martha Soto via

Martha Soto, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Department of Pathology
Research Tower - R232
675 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Office: 732-235-4424 Lab: 732-235-4798

Director, Postdoctoral Career Development Program

Co-Director, INSPIRE at RWJMS

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