Lunch and Learn: Outreach as a Postdocs

Topic: Outreach as a Postdocs

Date: June 14th, 2016

Invited Speakers:

  • Judith Neugebauer, PhD, BioEYES Utah Program Manager, Department of Pediatrics Research Enterprise, University of Utah
  • Hailey Leek, Office of Engagement, Youth Education, University of Utah
  • Nate Friedman, MPA, Director, Youth Protection and Program Support, University of Utah
  • Kellie Yates, Outreach and Project Specialist, Utah STEM Action Center Program Director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development
  • Dean McGovern, Executive Director, Bennion Community Service Center, University of Utah


Our panelists provided a comprehensive overview of opportunities available to postdocs to participate in outreach programs.

This summary was written at the end of June 2016. For the latest information on each program, please visit their website:

  • BioEYES is a weeklong program for 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 10th Utah grades that aims to increase STEM learning for K-12 students and break down barriers about what science is and who can become a scientist. The program offers a 1 h orientation to volunteers.

Contact: Judith Neugebauer,

  • The Bennion Center fosters lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the University with the greater community in action, change and learning. You can find more information about each program, as well as fill out a volunteer interest form, on their website (you will need to log in with your university credentials)

  • The STEM Action Center is Utah’s leader in promoting science, technology, engineering and math through best practices in education to ensure connection with industry and Utah’s long-term economic prosperity.

Contact: Kellie Yates,

  • The U’s Office of Engagement connects community with the promises of higher education in several important ways—through first helping young people IMAGINE and really believe they can go to college, then by mentoring and preparing them for the process, and finally by helping them DO—fostering real achievement though counseling, engagement, and the creation of a safe space to learn and discover. You can contact them at

A summary of discussed key points is provided below. Since this is a summary of a panel discussion, each comment does not necessarily represent the opinion of all panelists.

  •    The panelists commented on the importance of volunteers to run their outreach programs. Each program has a range of opportunities to meet the volunteer’s time availability as well as commitment length.
  •    Beyond the personal reward, engaging in outreach activities can increase your competiveness not only in academia (e.g. addresses grants’ broader impacts criteria) but also in industry (e.g. creating networking opportunities with community partners).
  •    How do I start to become involved in an outreach program? The easiest way is to send an email to the person in charge of volunteers of the program. Some programs, like the Bennion Center, have a Volunteer Interest Form. Even if the program that you contact is not a good fit for you, they can probably connect you with the right person/program.
  •    Most programs will offer you some form of certificate for your volunteer work. It is also possible to obtain letters that describe the work that was done and personal performance.

On July 1, 2016, a new policy (1-015) will take effect in he University of Utah. This policy, which applies to all members of the University including postdocs, is designed to promote the safety of minors participating in programs sponsored or supported by the University. The details of this policy can be found here.