Chris Smith named postdoctoral affairs program administrator
“We are committed to refining and developing mechanisms to bolster the postdocs’ experience by providing more assistance through a combination of community building, mentoring, and professional development. It is a top priority for Virginia Tech to ensure all postdocs have the best possible experience prior to launching their career," said Virginia Tech Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui.
In effort to continue to further improve the postdoctoral researcher experience and provide more assistance through a combination of building community, mentoring, and professional development, Chris Smith was named postdoctoral affairs program administrator, effective Jan. 24, 2022.
Housed in the Office of Research and Innovation, Smith will lead the establishment of a new Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at Virginia Tech, supporting postdoctoral associates across the institution, including those based on the main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences campus in Roanoke, and in Northern Virginia.
“We are delighted that Dr. Smith is on board to build the new office dedicated to strengthening Virginia Tech’s postdoctoral community,” said Virginia Tech Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui. “We are committed to refining and developing mechanisms to bolster the postdocs’ experience by providing more assistance through a combination of community building, mentoring, and professional development. It is a top priority for Virginia Tech to ensure all postdocs have the best possible experience prior to launching their career.”
As chief advocate and point of contact for postdoctoral scholars, Smith will lead the development of postdoctoral associate career programs, which may include career advising, job search and interviewing resources, career development workshops, professional seminars, responsible conduct of research trainings, and other offerings promoting the welfare and advancement of the postdoctoral population.
Smith will partner with colleges, institutes, and administrative offices across Virginia Tech's campuses to provide a supportive, inclusive, and engaging environment for Virginia Tech’s postdoctoral (postdoc) scholars through professional development and community building programs specific to the needs of postdoctoral associates and their mentors.
An advisor to the Virginia Tech Postdoctoral Association, Smith will collaborate with the association to plan and execute programming including events during Postdoctoral Appreciation Week and throughout the year.
Working closely with Human Resources, Office of International Affairs, and other key stakeholders, Smith will navigate the administrative components of postdoctoral life, developing and improving processes for the postdoctoral community, including the establishment of an orientation and onboarding program, and the development, refinement, or revision of policies and processes impacting postdocs on campus. In collaboration with the Office of Research and Innovation, Smith will track institutional postdoc data for national surveys, and with Human Resources, monitor postdoc salary, benefits, and job satisfaction.
Smith will also actively engage the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to enhance postdoctoral associate diversity across the university and actively connect with campus offices who employ postdocs, to develop and manage programs that seek to recruit high-quality postdocs.
“I am excited to join the Virginia Tech community and to help shape the newly formed office,” said Smith. “My background managing a postdoctoral affairs office over the past three years and serving in leadership roles for national groups supporting postdoctoral career and professional development has prepared me to bring best practices to postdoctoral support at Virginia Tech. I also look forward to pursuing unique initiatives — to build a thriving community for postdoctoral training and, in the process, make Virginia Tech a destination for postdoctoral talent.”
Most recently in his role as North Carolina State University’s (NC State) postdoctoral affairs program manager in the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at the Graduate School, Smith supported the university’s postdoctoral scholars regarding current training roles, career and professional development, and developed and improved policies and procedures.
Smith’s accomplishments in his previous role, which elevated the success of the postdoc community included: identifying and improving methods to better support postdocs through climate surveys; enhancing communications through postdoc Slack and LinkedIn groups, organizing postdoctoral research symposia, spotlighting current and past postdocs’ accomplishments via NC State’s ImPACKful blog; and developing and leading career exploration series and workshops.
Currently, Smith serves as a board member of the National Postdoctoral Association and chair of the association’s strategic planning committee, where he engages with a variety of stakeholders that represent postdoctoral communities across the nation.
Additionally, Smith’s service to advancing graduate student and postdoctoral associate professional development includes serving as communications chair of the Graduate Career Consortium and a member of the consortium’s benchmarking committee.
Smith holds bachelor's in neuroscience from Furman University and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.