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Panoramic photo of South Building on UNCʼs campus, Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill

OPA offers a variety of career-related seminars, panels, and professional development workshops throughout the year. Visit the OPA Calendar for a list of upcoming programs.


Grant Writing for Postdocs: Summer 2023

The UNC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is pleased to announce the following programming for postdocs interested in grant opportunities and grant writing. These will be advertised individually closer to the date of each event.

Grant Opportunities for Postdocs

Grant Opportunities for Postdocs| May 23rd | 12:00-1:00PM | Virtual

In the first seminar of OPA’s Summer Grant-Writing Series, Nate Warren will provide an overview of the grant landscape for UNC postdocs. This is an introduction that is best suited for early-stage postdocs, covering F and K grants, career development and foundation awards, and business program funding. Nate will also discuss international eligibility, resources for identifying funding sources, what you need to consider when putting your grant applications together, and how to submit grants through the UNC system. Register here to receive the zoom link.

Nate Warren is the Research Development Manager at UNC’s Office of Research Development. Nate received his PhD studying metabolism and immunology at the University of Alabama. Following a 2 year postdoc at Duke, and before coming to UNC, Nate worked as a scientific consultant for Eva Garland Consulting, assisting companies with grant applications.


Twelve Keys to Successful Grant Writing

Twelve Keys to Successful Grant Writing | June 27th | 9:00AM-12:30PM | BCBS Auditorium 0001 Michael Hooker Research Center

Designed for the grant writer with limited experience, this workshop starts from the premise that nothing succeeds like a good idea. But there are other important ingredients of success, from assembling a winning team to achieving a strong match between the idea and a potential sponsor. In all, this workshop presents twelve key concepts related to success in grant writing. It stresses the importance of planning, and presents the sponsor as a potential ally, not an adversary. This in-person, 3.5-hour workshop is designed for junior faculty and postdocs in any discipline. Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to register soon to avoid disappointment. Please only register if you plan to attend, to avoid taking a spot from someone else. Registration Link:

Bob Lowman is the owner of Workshops for Grant Writers, LLC.  He has spent most of his career working in executive positions in academic research settings and has presented workshops on grant writing at more than 50 colleges, universities, and research hospitals throughout the country.  As former associate vice chancellor for research and a research professor of psychology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served as senior advisor to the vice chancellor in the areas of research policy, planning, regulatory compliance, training, and infrastructure.  He also served as research integrity officer for the university for more than 20 years.


Developing Your K99/R00 and CASI: A Guide for UNC Postdocs

Developing Your K99/R00 and CASI: A Guide for UNC Postdocs| July 11th | 12:00-1:00PM | Virtual

Postdocs often seek awards providing independent funding and financial support to facilitate the transition to faculty. The Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from NIH is a competitive award that supports exceptional postdoctoral researchers in completing the final years of their postdoctoral work and transitioning to a role as an independent scientist. Career Awards at the Scientific Interface (CASI) offered by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF; headquartered in Durham) presents an alternative path to securing an award that will facilitate this transition. CASI provides $500,000 over five years to bridge advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of faculty service. Both awards are open to non-US citizens. In this webinar, Dr. Collins will give an overview of the K99/R00 and CASI programs and provide some tips for thinking about when to apply, which center to apply to, broad tips on specific aims & other aspects as well as comparing and contrasting the K99/R00 and the CASI award, showcasing reviewer comments on each. Registration Link:

Tammy Collins, Ph.D., recently joined the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF), a nonprofit philanthropic organization whose mission is to nurture a diverse group of leaders in biomedical sciences to improve human health. At BWF, Collins serves as a program officer where she directs the Career Awards at the Scientific Interface (CASI) program and the Innovations in Regulatory Science Awards (IRSA). Prior to joining BWF, she was the director of the Office of Fellows’ Career Development at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).


Postdoc Communication Series: Summer 2023

Communication is an essential skill, regardless of whether you choose to stay in academia or opt for a different career path. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is pleased to announce a range of communication-themed programming that will run throughout the Summer for UNC postdocs. Sessions will focus on developing interpersonal skills, media skills, and learning how to communicate to a general audience. The programming includes a presentation competition, and for the first time, an online communication course. See below for more information and registration links.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills with Dr. Irina Filonova

Communicating clearly can help scientists promote research projects, secure funding, and collaborate across disciplines and cultures. However, developing a message that resonates with people from unrelated groups can be difficult. Irina Filanova, a career coach specializing in communication, will visit UNC next week to deliver a series of talks and workshops for postdocs and graduate students. Postdocs can register for one or multiple of the workshops listed below, all taking place on Wednesday May 10th. For those attending Interpersonal Skills for Scientists, lunch will be provided. These events are co-sponsored by TIBBS & OPA.

Communication Across Borders | May 10th | 10:30 -11:30AM | MEJ 3112

This interactive session introduces tools and frameworks to facilitate information exchange and to create engaging conversations about what matters to scientists and society. Register here for this event.

Leadership Luncheon: Interpersonal Skills for Scientists | May 10th | 12:00-1:00PM | MEJ 3112

Have you ever wondered how to be a professional that communicates clearly across contexts, ways to develop your own conversation skills, or how communication skills can impact your academic career progress and career transitions? Come chat with Dr. Filonova over a free lunch! Register here for this event.

People Skills 101 – The Scientist Edition | May 10th | 2:00-3:30PM | Marsico 5004

Join Irina as she coaches on how to understand the foundational skills needed for successful interpersonal interactions, and practice essential skills to increase your influence and effectiveness. Irina will talk us through how to identify assumptions, beliefs and/or blind spots that might undermine relationship building, how to use a cross-cultural lens to effectively understand interpersonal interactions. Register here for this event.

Irina Filanova specializes in career coaching and is the founder of The PhD Whisperer, an evidence-based coaching and training company for PhDs within and outside academia. Cross-cultural communication in her international work informs her practice, presentations, and cross-cultural training lens. Dr. Filonova has a non-conventional professional background, gaining expertise in biomedical sciences (neuroscience) as a former Russian international trainee (doctoral and postdoctoral training) in the United States, first specializing in Russian literature and linguistics, and later as an American professional working in Japan to navigate career cultural differences. 


SCOPE: Science Communication Online Program

SCOPE: Science Communication Online Program| June 1st – Aug 4th | Virtual

We are excited to announce that OPA will be administering a virtual short course at UNC throughout June and July. SCOPE (Science Communication Online Program) is an asynchronous, 8-module program specifically developed for postdocs and graduate students in STEM. This engaging course is NSF-funded and designed by communication experts to provide training in persuasive writing, communication without jargon, stage presence, visuals and graphic design, and scientific storytelling. The full syllabus is available here, and you can watch a sample video here. The modules are hosted on Canvas and will be released on a weekly basis, beginning June 1st. The course is self-paced and without exams, but participants are expected to actively engage using the discussion thread to advance throughout the course. Those who complete the course will be awarded a micro-badge in Science Communication to add to their LinkedIn profile. Spaces for this course are limited. To apply, please submit a short application form. Applications will close at noon on Monday, May 29th.


Science to Stories: Communicating Research to a General Audience

Science to Stories | June 6th | 12:30-1:30PM | Marsico 2004

Have you ever wondered how to better communicate your research? How to reduce jargon and make your story compelling? Alyssa Faro, a professional communicator who has years of experience translating science into engaging content for broad audiences, will give UNC postdocs examples of complex ideas told as engaging and easy-to-understand 5-minute stories, with a breakdown of why the talk was engaging. For postdocs interested in the upcoming Research Café Competition (see below), this seminar should be of particular value. This event will take place in person at Marsico Hall (room 2004) on June 6th, from 12:30-1:30pm. Although we encourage in-person attendance for this event, there will be a virtual option for those who cannot make it (zoom link will be provided upon registration). Register here for this event:

Alyssa Faro works at the UNC Research Communications Office and has years of experience composing articles for UNC’s Endeavors magazine and UNC Research, communicating UNC’s research to the world. 


Media Relations: Engaging Media to Communicate your Research

Media Relations | July 18th | 12:30-1:30PM | Marsico 2004

Getting the word out to the public about your exciting research is an important part of being a researcher. However, has anybody ever told you about the dos and don’ts when it comes to engaging media? Join Catherine Posler for this session explaining the best way to communicate your research to media outlets, how to craft your messages and talking points, and employ good interview tactics. Please note that this event does not cover social media or personal brand aspects, which will be covered separately in an upcoming seminar (see below). Although we encourage in-person attendance for this event, there will be a virtual option for those who cannot make it (zoom link will be provided upon registration). Register here for this event:

Catherine Long is the Research Communications Manager at UNC’s Office of University Communications. Before her current role, Catherine worked with both the CDC and Richmond City Health District.


Postdoc Research Café

Presentation Competition | July 19th | 12:00-1:30PM | Marsico 2004

The annual postdoc presentation competition will take place on July 19th in Marsico 2004 from 12:00-1:30PM! Participating postdocs will present their research in an exciting, simple (i.e., jargon-free), 5-minute talk designed for a general audience. The most engaging speakers with the best topics will be selected as winners and invited to deliver talks in the Postdoc Research Café series throughout the 2023-2024 academic year. The Research Café is a wonderful, postdoc-led community engagement series where UNC researchers communicate their research to a general audience at TRU, located just off Franklin St. Regardless of who wins, this friendly competition is a great opportunity for postdocs looking to hone their communication and presentation skills. Postdocs from any discipline in UNC are encouraged to attend – the more variety the better! Please sign up here by July 5th if you want to give a 5-minute presentation and compete for one of the spots to become a Research Café speaker.

Postdoc Research Café: The Placenta | July 11th | 6:30-7:30PM | TRU Deli

The postdoc-led communication series continues in July with a talk on The Placenta, from Dr. Madeline Keenen. Dr. Keenen will discuss the surprising origins of the placenta, and why the relationship between the mother, the fetus, and the placenta is more complex than we might think. The Research Café takes place once every 2 months. You can find additional details on the series here.

PDA Research Café is a free series, organized by postdocs, to share the exciting research being carried out at UNC with the local community. All talks are delivered by engaging professionals who are leading experts in their fields of research. Talks take place on the first Tuesday of every 2nd month at TRU Deli Sandwich and Wine Bar in Chapel Hill ( No background knowledge is required – everyone is welcome! 


Postdoc Social Media Training: Establish Your Brand

Social Media Training | August 9th | 12:00-1:00PM | Marsico 2004

Social media has transformed the way people learn about science and communicate their research. Researchers today benefit from knowing how to effectively use online tools to disseminate their message and establish their brand. Join this social media workshop, where Chelsey Holts will explain how to make the most of the various platforms, including good social media hygiene and how to effectively craft posts for maximum engagement. While we encourage in-person attendance for this event, there will be a virtual option for those who cannot make it. Register here for this event:

Chelsey Holts is the Director of Social Media at UNC’s Office of University Communications.