Postdoc FAQs

Check out our list of the most common questions postdocs have at all stages of their journey at Columbia University. 

FAQs

All new postdocs will be automatically added to OPA’s listserv within a few weeks of their arrival at Columbia. If you have started your appointment at Columbia more than a few weeks ago and you are not yet receiving weekly emails from our office, please email [email protected] and we will add you to the listserv.

Yes! In addition to the main postdoc listserv, postdocs may wish to join one of the four following mailing lists, which will give them the ability to send and receive messages within the group: 

[email protected]
Share, plan and discuss social events going on at Columbia or around the city. Connect with other CU postdocs. Invite other postdocs to attend social activities and events around New York City, or alert the community when something is happening at Columbia that is not hosted by OPA.

[email protected]
Do you have a piece of equipment that you are not using in your lab? Do you need something, but don’t know where to get it, or don’t want to spend a lot of money purchasing something? Send an email to this list to see if anyone can help you out. Of course, all exchanges should be legal and allowed by your lab or PI. OPA does not endorse selling/collecting money through these lists.

[email protected]
Get in touch with other postdocs who have children and families. Learn about events and social activities for parents, and kid-friendly events for families. Exchange opinions and recommendations for babysitters, schools, after school activities, etc. 

[email protected]
Are you moving? Looking for housing? Post here and see if other members of the postdoc community have any information to share!

In addition to watching our recorded orientation for new postdocs (or attending an in-person orientation session), we encourage all new postdocs to browse the New Postdocs section of our website and to read through the Postdoctoral Officers Handbook.

 

You can watch our recorded orientation for new postdocs at your convenience. If you would like to attend an in-person orientation session, please take a look at our calendar.

Columbia reserves a small number of University apartments for postdoc housing.  Only postdocs approved by their school or department are eligible for this University housing. University housing policies and procedures differ based on the campus on which your department of appointment is located. 

Full information about the CUIMC Housing Lottery, including the housing application, can be found here.

For all questions regarding the CUIMC Housing Lottery, contact the Housing Leasing Manager, Noemi Bueno at 212-304-7008.

*Residency Fellows: CUIMC only provides housing to newly appointed Postdoctoral Residency Fellows who graduated from the University and resided in CUIMC student housing immediately prior to their appointment. Individuals occupying single student designated housing are re-assigned to a campus studio apartment.

Housing for postdocs working at select departments within the Morningside, Lamont and Manhattanville Campuses is handled by Columbia Residential.

You can learn more about housing on the Housing and Benefits section of our website. This page has links to off-campus housing resources.

Please make sure to attend the Human Resource new employee orientation, which is separate from OPA’s orientation. The HR orientation goes into more detail about the benefits available to you at Columbia and your enrollment options. The Human Resource offices at the Morningside Campus and the Medical School Campus each run their own new employee orientation (the one on the Medical Campus is called the "Welcome Program"). Please click on the appropriate link below to obtain the orientation schedule.  It is strongly recommended that postdoctoral research scientists/scholars attend one of these sessions within 30 days of their start date.

You can also email [email protected] for specific benefits-related questions.

 

You can learn more about our career development programs here. Some of our large-scale annual career development programs include the Individual Development Plan (IDP) Program and the Academic Application Boot Camp

You can learn more about our wellness programming here. In addition to one-on-one wellness appointments, monthly wellness workshops and weekly wellness events, we organize mini wellness challenges each month. 

 

 

We offer 1-on-1 appointments to postdocs who:

  • would like to discuss their career goals/exploration
  • would like a career counselor to review their CV/resume and/or cover letter
  • would like help preparing for an interview

Please email OPA’s Associate Director, Samantha Samel, to schedule an appointment.

 

 

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs collaborates with other offices to offer some programs that provide certifications that may be necessary for specific grant requirements. Postdocs who participate in the IDP Program and would like to earn a certificate can do so by filling out the IDP submission form, attending at least one IDP Program event, and filling out the IDP evaluation form.

By participating in the Office of Research Compliance and Training’s Hot Topics in Responsible and Ethical Conduct or Research training series for postdocs, postdocs can earn required hours of RCR training for NIH.

 To file your annual Conflict of Interest disclosure, go to Rascal (https://www.rascal.columbia.edu/) and select "Conflict of Interest." For more information on Financial Conflicts of Interest and Research, including links to the CU policy and FAQs, visit: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/compliance/docs/conflict_interest/index.html.

Yes! Many of our career development and wellness workshops and events have been recorded and are accessible to postdocs anytime on our recorded workshops page.

In addition, postdocs can take advantage of various on-demand resources, including the PhD Career Training Platform, the IDP Career Planning Worksheet.

For our Academic Application Boot Camp series, the majority of materials from

 

Postdocs can schedule 1-on-1 wellness appointments to develop wellness goals or discuss resources that may be helpful in meeting specific wellness needs. Additionally, PIs or other faculty and staff members are able to schedule individual appointments to discuss postdoctoral wellness needs. Please email OPA’s Wellness Director, Anna Womack, to schedule an individual wellness appointment.

Yes! Postdocs can take advantage of additional University wellness resources, as well as external mental health and wellness resources. For any additional wellness questions, you can contact OPA’s Wellness Director, Anna Womack, to schedule an appointment.

You can learn more on our Grants Support for Postdocs page and Columbia’s Find Funding page. 

 

Our office is not able to provide assistance with tax-related questions, but if you would like to talk to someone about taxes 1:1, you can make a free appointment with a financial specialist through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). All Postdocs have access to the EAP, whose services include short-term confidential counseling, financial counseling, wellness resources, and tools to help be successful in the workplace. Here is the website: https://humanresources.columbia.edu/content/employee-assistance-program

Username: Columbia             
Password: eap

Be sure to be clear about questions/concerns in the initial appointment booking call so the EAP can assign a specialist who will be knowledgeable about the tax situation.

The University has two International Students and Scholars Offices that provide assistance to postdocs coming to Columbia from outside of the United States. The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) assists the Morningside, CUIMC and Lamont campuses and offers full advisory services every day. In addition to providing immigration support, they also host workshops, programs, and social and cultural events. International students and scholars with questions or requests concerning visas, immigration, travel, employment, and/or other matters related to their stay at Columbia are welcome to walk in to speak to a Program Officer.

International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) Morningside
3280 Broadway, Nash Building,
5th Floor, Room 510
New York, NY 10027

Click here for specific advisor contact information to schedule an appointment

International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) CUIMC
Black Building, 650 W 168th Street
1st Floor, Room 130
New York, NY 10032
Telephone: 212-305-8165 

For assistance, please visit the ISSO CUIMC page and follow the email assistance instructions. 

All candidates for postdoctoral appointments who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must obtain a visa prior to starting their appointment at the University. Therefore, visa issues must be addressed prior to the issuance of a letter of appointment or an offer of an extension of an appointment.

The ISSO assists international students and scholars with, among other things, documentation matters. ISSO’s website contains a wealth of information for international postdoctoral applicants. All non-U.S. citizen postdocs should visit its site here and follow the links under “VISAS and TRAVEL  FOR SCHOLARS (PROFESSORS AND RESEARCHERS).”

Immigration documentation is handled by ISSO. If you are here on a J-1 visa with Columbia sponsorship, the name and address of the appropriate University office is on your Form DS-2019 (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/SEVIS) provided with your visa information.

Although some requests for documentation submitted to ISSO may be filled on the spot, it is prudent to allow at least five business days for processing. Please bring your passport and all relevant immigration documentation (including your Form DS-2019) with you when you go to ISSO for information or document processing.

Each postdoc is responsible for maintaining his or her appropriate status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and knowing and following pertinent regulations. Postdocs should familiarize themselves with their obligations to DHS by visiting the DHS website. If you hold a J-1 visa, you may also visit the ISSO website for J-1 Scholars. If you are uncertain about your status, check with the ISSO immediately. Also, consult with ISSO before visiting the District Office of the U.S. Immigration Service.