Heard of the MCB Postdoc Lunch Club?

MCB Postdoc Lunch Club: Helpful Resources, Invaluable Connections, and Free Lunch

By Shana Singh 2016

In 2010, Te-Wen Lo and Fred Tan, two MCB postdocs, felt that something was lacking in terms of their community. There needed to be a place where postdocs could meet with one another and discuss issues relevant to them. Enter the postdoc lunch club — which now is in its sixth year and is still going strong! Postdocs’ time on campus is limited and they need to quickly connect with mentors, peers, and the information that will ensure their success. By providing these opportunities, the lunch club has the potential to positively change one’s experience at Cal.

A 2016 spring session of the Postdoc Lunch Club featuring Professor Micha Rape.

The postdoc lunch club is a forum made by postdocs, for postdocs — a unique community that's sometimes overlooked on campus due to its transient nature. Centered around an appetizing (and free!) meal, it makes a point to discuss issues that are front and center in the busy lives of postdocs, with the added benefit of meeting fellow postdocs.

The lunch club is usually held once a month, and is announced via a listserve — postdocs can join the club at any time:

To recieve announcements, visit https://calmail.berkeley.edu/manage/list/ and search for the email address mcbpostdoc “at” lists.berkeley.edu.

To be considered an “MCB Postdoc,” postdocs should be in the lab of a faculty member affiliated with MCB — the club is broadly inclusive as some MCB faculty are also associated with other departments or units on campus or in LBNL.

A new discussion topic is presented at every meeting, specifically tailored to the immediate interests of postdocs (such as navigating the fellowship application process). Typically there is a guest speaker that is a faculty member or some other expert on the topic. Organizers are always open to suggestions for future meetings. Are you a postdoc? Please share your ideas for upcoming lunches.

Organizer Andrew Manford has some advice for incoming postdocs: “Attend PDLC. It’s a great way to meet fellow MCB postdocs and faculty. There are many topics important to postdocs and issues we face as postdocs that are not covered by our normal training. PDLC provides an outlet to learn about and discuss these topics with our peers and experienced faculty and staff. The visiting scholar and postdoc affairs website is also a great resource http://vspa.berkeley.edu.”

Achim Werner, another PDLC organizer, says, “Going to the PDLC gives you a chance to connect with other postdocs and get fresh and different perspectives on your work and work situations in general. You can find out what your fellow postdocs are working on, which techniques they use, and find out about equipment and approaches that might be useful for your own research. You can also get to know faculty in a smaller, informal environment thereby making important contacts for your future career.”

In January 2016, there was a special postdoc lunch club that was sponsored by the Dean of Biological Sciences where IB and MCB postdocs joined assistant faculty Seth Finnegan (IB) and Gloria Brar (MCB) to discuss the process of applying and interviewing for faculty positions. A whopping 42 postdocs attended this luncheon, making it one of the more popular luncheons of the year! Both IB and MCB have expressed an interest in having an annual joint event like this going forward. Thanks to the dean for making it possible!

...And thanks to Gloria Brar, Seth Finnegan, and all the other faculty and special guests that have participated in these lunch clubs over the years. Most of all, thanks to all the postdocs that attend, we couldn’t hold these without you!