How to get Postdoctorate positions? In conversation with Anuja Lipsa, Ph.D.

1. In brief, tell us about your postdoctoral work.

My postdoc project focus on pharmacogenomics profiling of gliomas.


2. When to start hunting for postdoc positions?

It’s always better to start hunting early, as finding a postdoc of choice can be challenging and time-consuming. I would suggest starting as soon as you have planned your synopsis (pre-defense). Spend a reasonable amount of time writing your cover letter and CV, as it can save a lot of time when you start sending applications.


3. Where to find postdoc positions?

There could be several approaches to finding a postdoc position, and they can all be followed simultaneously:


a) Make a list of labs that you are interested in or relevant to your work, and email the principal investigator. Always tailor your cover letter as per the lab, and do not send a general email. It's always important to stand out from the crowd.


b) Another approach is to make yourself available on Twitter and LinkedIn. Most of the good labs have their accounts on Twitter, and PIs are quite responsive.


c) Start making contacts during your conference visits. It's always good to stay in touch with PIs or labs you may want to work in the future.


4. What are the fellowships one can apply for a postdoc? Any particular site to get information about the same?

Postdocs have several funding opportunities depending on where you are applying. I find the below website to be beneficial and can be tailored as per your interest:

https://ecrcentral.org/


5. How to communicate with the PIs to get a postdoc position? Like SOPs/work experience, what all are needed?

It is always good to build professional relationships during your Ph.D. so you can reach out to them later. If you are writing to a PI you already know, start with introducing yourself, possibly mentioning how you know each other, and most importantly, articulating the purpose of the email/letter, that is, you are seeking a job. In addition, mention what you are doing now, position, affiliation, expected date of graduation, etc. This still holds true if you are writing to a PI whom you have not known before. Next, you should tailor your email to the research work of the PI. What you know they do or did in the past and highlighting whatever other positive aspects of their work are a relevant reason for your application. The purpose here is to prepare the ground for articulating why you fit for them in the subsequent paragraph and to show that you mean it and did your homework well (e.g., read their papers). The third, most crucial paragraph should be about your fit for the position or the group. It revolves around how you can contribute to their work and why they should hire you. Here you expand on the relevant experience/projects you did, your abilities to publish papers in top journals/conferences in the field, solicit external funding, teaching, etc. Also, consider how much bragging is appropriate. The message should be clear and concise: "there is a potential fit between the two of us." Finally, close the letter by explaining what can be found in the attached documents and possibly what other constraints you might have. Attach your CV and SOP with the email. It is also beneficial to send a gentle reminder email after ten days if you do not receive a reply on the first. Always remember, any PI easily gets more than 100 application a day; a personal email is your chance to stand out.


6. What was your strategy while sorting the postdoc labs?

I wanted to learn something new and still use my Ph.D. experience because, in a postdoc, there's always a 2 way street: what to learn and what you bring to the table. If you would like to stick to your field, then shortlist the labs working on the respective topics and go through their lab website. Check their publication stats and ongoing projects. Also, see where their aluminize are now. This should give you an idea of your career trajectory if you join a specific lab. Always look for red flags by reaching out to past or current lab members or anyone else from the department or institute.


7. What made you choose the lab you are currently pursuing for your postdoc?

It was the perfect intersection for me to bring my genomics experience from my Ph.D. field and learn about precision medicine from my current lab.


8. Is there any chance of getting a postdoc position in a different field than your Ph.D. background?

Yes, it is difficult but possible. At the postdoc level, potential PIs usually look for candidates who could bring in experience they can use in their lab. Still, if you can show them that you are a motivated and fast learner, as well as put up the right reasons as to why you want to switch your field, you have a good chance.


9. On average, how much can one expect to get as a postdoc salary, and is this negotiable?

It varies based on the country you will work in and the lab funding. However, I can give a basic idea:

India: 50k-90k rupees per month

Europe: 3000-5000 Euros/month

USA: 4000-6000 Dollars/month

It could be negotiable again depending upon the regulations and funding of the lab


10. Postdoc or industry, which is better?

Both career options have their share of pressure and demands. The best fit for you is subjective and depends entirely on your individual preference and working style.


11. Do work presentations in international conferences facilitate getting a postdoc abroad?

Yes, it can certainly give you an edge if you consciously try to connect with potential lab supervisors and stay in touch with them. However, it is always better to have multiple options and multiple startegies when applying for postdoc positions abroad.


I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cancer Research, Luxembourg Institute of Health. I completed my Ph.D. degree in cancer genomics from ACTREC in 2020. I have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. My research interests are cancer genomics, multi-omics profiling, organoid technology, and high throughput drug screpostdoctoralavailable to help and answer any doubts that you may have.

You may reach me at anuja.lipsa.88@gmail.com.





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