Collin Diedrich, PhD
Manifesto for UPPDA Advocacy Chair position
I am a 5th year post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics in the Children’s Hospital of UPMC, studying how HIV increases an individual’s susceptibility to tuberculosis. I have been in my current position for approximately one and a half years. Before this I was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Cape Town for approximately 3 years. I received my PhD in molecular virology and microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012.
I’m interested in being the UPPDA Advocacy Chair to help improve the experience of being a postdoctoral scholar and associate here at Pitt. I believe the status quo for the majority of postdoctoral researchers should be improved. For the past year, for example, I have been working with the current Advocacy Chair, Chelsea Stillman, on pushing through a proposal to increase paternity time from its current four weeks to the NIH-recommended eight weeks for all postdoctoral scholars and fellows. This proposal is currently being considered by the administration and I will continually work to get this pushed through. I am therefore familiar with the procedures for getting changes, that related to parental leave, accomplished, and I plan to continue the previous Chair’s efforts in this domain. I will also work to enhance the postdoc experience in other areas related to postdoctoral benefits, as I have noticed several inequities (e.g, fringe benefit issues, inability of postdocs being co-PI on significant research grants, and a lack of a minimum pay scale that follows NRSA stipend levels).
Postdocs can be in a vulnerable position. I know some postdocs have been taken advantage of by their PIs and I want to ensure that when this happens PIs are held accountable. Most importantly, I intend to listen to my peers so I fully understand all issues affecting our postdoctoral community. Together, we can then decide which ones are worth pursuing and how. I want to ensure that the university understands the importance of the postdoctoral community and, when issues arise that speak otherwise, I will diligently work with the UPPDA do what we can to help ameliorate them.