Professional Development Awards for Postdocs

The Professional Development Awards for Postdocs (PDAP) were established in Fall 2013. The awards are designed to assist postdoctoral scholars and house officers pursuing professional development or training opportunities and help them reach their professional and/or career goals. Awards can be up to $1,000 each.

The 2019-2020 award application is now open! Please see the application requirements for more information.

Please submit your complete application as a single PDF file to by one of the two deadlines (Fall or Winter).

Your application should include all of the following:
1) Current copy of your CV
2) Signed letter of support from your faculty advisor
3) Budget proposal of how the money will be spent with specific details (titles of conferences or workshops, etc.) and dollar amounts; budget cannot exceed $1,000
4) One-page including: a. Brief description of your research project at NC State AND b. Description of how the award relates to your research and career goals

Fall Application Deadline: Sunday, September 22nd, 2019 at 11:59 PM
Fall Award Announced: Mid October 2019

Winter Application Deadline: Sunday, January 12th, 2020 at 11:59 PM
Fall Award Announced: Mid February 2020

Past PDAP Recipients

Fall 2019

  • Dr. Adam Hoffman, Department of Psychology
    • Project/Activity: Social Network Analysis workshop for NC State University
    • Professional Development outcome: Increased demonstration of teaching effectiveness for preparation for a faculty career; providing useful insights on a data analysis approach to the university community
  • Dr. Nadine Kotlarz, Department of Biological Sciences
    • Project/Activity: Auditing Case Studies in Data Science course at Duke University
    • Professional Development outcome: Increased understanding of statistical approaches in public health data to be applied to postdoc work at NC State
  • Dr. Maricar Morales-Aguilos, Department of Forestry & Environmental Resources
    • Project/Activity: Lecture & workshop series on wetland ecosystem research at Mindanao State University in the Philippines
    • Professional Development outcome: Development and delivery of workshop on research area, establishment of new institutional partnerships, and science outreach to groups often under-served
  • Dr. John Nardini, Department of Mathematics
    • Project/Activity: Purchase of Poll Everyone license to aid in teaching
    • Professional Development outcome: Software will allow for better interaction with large lecture classrooms, provide valuable feedback on teaching, and assist in improvement of teaching skills for eventual faculty career

  • Dr. Aurore Canoville, Department of Biological Sciences (NC State) & Paleontology Research Program (NC Museum of Natural Sciences)
    • Project/Activity: Designing & leading a short course on bone (paleo)histology and workshop on petrographic thin-sections at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences
    • Professional Development outcome: Increased demonstration of teaching effectiveness for preparation for a faculty caree
  • Dr. Teng Su, Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (NC State and UNC Chapel Hill)
    • Project/Activity: Meet the faculty candidate forum at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting
    • Professional Development outcome: Networking & exposure of Dr. Su and his research to department chairs, faculty, and recruiters seeking new faculty hires
  • Dr. Cheng Zhu, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    • Project/Activity: Attend the Providing Effective and Knowledgeable leadership course at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting
    • Professional Development outcome: Leadership training including how to develop one’s personal capabilities, work with others, and focus on results/outcomes

  • Dr. Andrew Ballinger, NC Institute of Climate Sciences
  • Dr. Stefanie Chen, Department of Biotechnology Teaching
  • Dr. Christine Culler, Department of Clinical Sciences, Terry Companion Veterinary Medical Center
  • Dr. Younggeon Jin, Department of Clinical Sciences, CVM
  • Dr. Eleanor Lahr, Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
  • Dr. Deepika Saini, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Dr. Kunwar Singh, Department of Forest and Environmental Resources
  • Dr. Erin Sproul, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Dr. Xinyu Zhang, Department of Biomedical Engineering

In 2016-2017, 14 postdocs applied and 7 postdocs were awarded. Recipients were notified in September 2016.

  • Dr. Dane Grismer, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
  • Dr. Pandiyarajan Chinnayan Kannan, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
  • Dr. Serina Mazzoni-Putnam, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
  • Dr. Kurt Schab, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Dr. Deborah Soares Bispo Santos Silva, Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
  • Dr. Derek Van Berkel, Center of Geospatial Analytics
  • Dr. Diana Oviedo Vargas, Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric

In 2015-2016, 16 postdocs applied and 6 postdocs were awarded. Recipients were notified in September 2015.

Dr. Thomas Lentz

Biotechnology Program

Dr. Lentz used the professional development award to improve his teaching ability, specifically in the area of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Dr. Lentz enrolled in two online teacher training courses through the CAST professional learning organization which focused on how to design a course with learning variability in mind, and how to tailor that message for the science classroom. Drawing form what he learned in these courses, Dr. Lentz has already transformed his lesson plans for the Biotechnology (BIT) 100 course he teaches at NC State.

Dr. Hiroyuki Mochizuki

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences

In October 2015, Dr. Mochizuki presented his research on the management of animal cancers using a molecular biology approach at the Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) annual conference. The VCS annual conference is the largest veterinary oncology meeting in the world, with the purpose of improving standards of care in the management of veterinary patients with cancer. Dr. Mochizuki’s presentation was regarding development of a new molecular diagnostic test for early detection of canine bladder/prostate cancer, which is usually detected in advanced stage and carries poor prognosis due to the lack of reliable diagnostic tests.

Dr. Muntazar Monsur

Department of Design Research

Dr. Monsur used the professional development award to fund his research on the effects of outdoor classrooms on children’s STEM learning behavior. Dr. Monsur conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of an outdoor classroom intervention on three STEM learning behaviors of preschool-aged children. Funds were used to buy STEM tools for the experiments and create modifications for the outdoor classroom. Dr. Monsur presented his research at the 2016 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference, as well as at the Postdoc Research Symposium at NC State.

Dr. Jonathan Mueller

Department of Nuclear Engineering

Dr. Jonathan Mueller used the professional development award to attend the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Winter Meeting. At the conference, he learned about how to develop engaging question formats to probe student learning, and how to successfully utilize a flipped classroom format. Furthermore, he learned new techniques for laboratory demos and research-based learning assessments. The conference solidified his career interest in becoming a faculty member in physics.

Dr. Qing Shao

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Dr. Shao attended the 2015 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) annual conference, where he gave two oral talks, one poster presentation, and networked with colleagues from universities across the US. He also presented his poster as the 2016 Postdoctoral Research Symposium.

Dr. Kathryn Stevenson

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Program

Dr. Stevenson presented her research in environmental education and policy at the North American Association of Environmental Education in San Diego, CA. Through her participation in the conference, Dr. Stevenson created opportunities to take her research team to the Conservation Psychology Institution at Anitoch University, fostered a mentor relationship with a premier research in the field, developed professional development workshops, and reconnect with professionals across the country.  

In 2014-2015, 23 postdocs applied and 5 postdocs were awarded. The awards were presented on September 25, 2014 in the Hunt Library as part of National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week.

Dr. Brian Cummins


Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering – Dr. Frances Ligler’s group

Dr. Cummins used the Professional Development Award for Postdocs (PDAP) to implement the coaching support and resources of the Udacity “How to Build a Startup” course by developing a smart phone application to incentivize people with Type 1 Diabetes to test themselves more frequently throughout the day, and then receive user feedback. Dr. Cummins also participated in the 4th Annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium, where he won 1st place for his research poster presentation.

Dr. Megan Fritz


Entomology Department – Dr. Fred Gould’s group

Dr. Fritz organized and hosted a Software Carpentry’s “A Programming Boot Camp for Biologists” event on January 29 and 30, 2015 in the Hunt Library. The event was a training opportunity for postdocs, graduate students, faculty, and research staff. Dr. Fritz also participated in the 4th Annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium, where she won 2nd place for her research poster presentation.

Dr. Carlos Goller


Biotechnology Department – Dr. Robert Kelly’s group

With the funding available from the PDAP, Dr. Goller hired an undergraduate student to help develop a new course, “Yeast Metabolic Engineering” in Spring 2015 for 7 undergraduate and graduate students. The course will be offered again in Fall 2015 for 18 undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Goller co-authored a manuscript on the new course he developed that was recently accepted to Journal of Young Investigators .

Dr. Ying Liu

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Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department – Dr. Michael Dickey’s group

Dr. Liu attended several workshops at the 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ conference in Atlanta, GA, including: the “Women Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows in Chemical Engineering: Developing your Career” workshop by the AIChE’s Women’s Initiatives Committee, the “Looking for an Academic Job – The Process and the Package” workshop by the AIChE’s Women’s Initiatives Committee, and a luncheon with keynote speaker, Dr. Jennifer Sinclair Curtis on career development.

Dr. Liliana Mellor


Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering – Dr. Elizabeth Loboa’s group

Dr. Mellor delivered a podium presentation, “Changes in Articular Cartilage Associated with Reduced Gravity May Contribute to Subchondral Bone Loss”, at the 2014 American Society for Gravitational and Space Research in Pasadena, CA. During March 2015, she led an outreach activity at Swift Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, NC to thirty fifth graders using “Genes in a Bottle” kits.

In 2013-2014, 37 postdocs applied and 4 postdocs were awarded. The awards were presented on September 20, 2014 in the Hunt Library as part of National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week.

Dr. Theodore Brzinski


Physics Department – Dr. Karen Daniels’ group

Dr. Brzinski designed and developed a new laboratory module and lab report for an undergraduate Physics course to measure entropy with respect to temperature. He gained valuable teaching experience through instructing approximately 30 students on the lab module.

Dr. Tiina Nypelo


Forest Biomaterials Department – Dr. Orlando Rojas’ group

In March 2014, Dr. Nypelo presented a lecture, “Lignin as precursor for functional particles”, at the Symposium of Functional Lignocellulosic and Nanotechnology at the 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Dallas, TX

Dr. Kota Takahaski


Biomedical Engineering Department – Dr. Gregory Sawicki’s group

Dr. Takahaski presented a tutorial lecture, “From body to joints to muscles: an integrative multi-scale assessment of ankle and foot function in human locomotion”, at the 2014 Gait & Clinical Movement Analysis Society Annual Conference at the University of Delaware. At the 7th World Congress for Biomechanics in Boston in July 2014, Dr. Takahaski presented a poster titled, “A user-controlled powered ankle exoskeleton to drive gait modifications post-stroke”.

Dr. Chenxi Zhang


Crop Science Department – Dr. Tom Rufty’s group

Dr. Zhang presented a poster, “Evaluation of Ammonia Volatilization from Stabilized Urea Sources via Continuous Measurement”, at the 2013 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, & Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL. The following spring Dr. Zhang attended a workshop, “Statistical Methods for Genome-Enabled Prediction of Complex Traits” at the 26th Annual Conference on Applied Statistics in Agriculture at Kansas State University.