Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association announces award winners from 14th annual symposium

The Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association held its 14th Annual VPA Symposium on Oct. 29. The event featured a keynote seminar, poster sessions, presentations and talks by Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Kentucky consortium postdoctoral scholars.

The event was originally scheduled to be held at the end of April, but was rescheduled due to COVID-19 and took place on the platforms Zoom and Gather. The keynote seminar, led by Chad Topaz, professor of mathematics at Williams College and co-founder and executive director of research for the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, was titled “Quantitative Approaches to Social Justice.” The symposium featured study topics such as social science, materials science and biomedical science.

In addition, a number of award winners were recognized during the symposium. The complete list is as follows:

Symposium Award Winners

Best Lightning Talk

  • Inga Saknite (VUMC): Cutaneous Imaging
  • Stephanie Moore-Lotridge (VUMC): Pediatric Diagnosis

Best Poster Presentation

  • Andrew Patterson (VUMC): T Cell Development
  • Jessica Thomas (VU): Autism Spectrum Disorder Modeling
  • Kakali Ghoshal (VUMC): Insulin Resistance
  • Tomas Rush (ORNL): Biotic Stress Factors

Postdoctoral Association Award Winners

  • Mentor of the Year Award: Jennifer Ufnar
  • Postdoc Service Award: Carlyn Mueller
  • Postdoc Honorable Mention Awards: Sam Centanni and Katie Leaptrot
  • Postdoc of the Year Award: Karan Jani

“I would like to extend thanks to Ashley Brady and the BRET office for holding the career advising session and for the partnering science and policy panel discussion during the symposium,” said Jim Sears, senior co-chair of the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association. “I also greatly appreciate the participation and partnership of all the faculty judges, the Division of Communications, the OPA, ORAU, the BRET office and all of the booth representatives and organizations.”

About Vanderbilt’s postdoctoral scholars community

Vanderbilt postdoctoral scholars, commonly known as postdocs, are professionals who have earned doctoral degrees and are, in most cases, temporarily pursuing additional scholarly training, experience and research progress necessary for a wide range of career paths. Postdocs play an important role in Vanderbilt’s research enterprise and are integral to the discovery and learning mission of Vanderbilt University and Medical Center. At any given time, Vanderbilt has more than 500 postdocs across both VU and VUMC. To learn more, visit