Advocacy Committee

Chair: Vaishali Aggarwal, PhD
Department of Immunology, School of Medicine

The Advocacy Committee serves to represent your interests to the University of Pittsburgh administration.  If you have general concerns about postdoc benefits, salary, access to University resources, or similar issues, or if you have an individual situation that you would like to discuss confidentially with the Advocacy Committee, feel free to contact one of the committee members directly, or send a confidential email

If you are interested in becoming involved in advocacy and/or public policy at the national level, there are lots of great resources:
  • Join the National Postdoc Association Advocacy Committee.
  • Subscribe to a listserv that sends email alerts related to policy news and/or potential action items.  One example is Advocacy Action Alerts from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which represents 27 scientific societies and over 125,000 biological and biomedical researchers globally, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the nation. You can subscribe in the Legislative Action Center here. FASEB has many other useful links and information on their website regarding ways to become involved in science policy.
  • Several professional organizations have fellowships or internships available for PhDs to get experience in (or transition into) public policy or public affairs. Here are some examples:
  • Even if your professional organization does not offer a public policy fellowship, there is a good chance they have a committee on public affairs or a public policy office.  Contact your professional organization for specific information.  Even if you are not able to join, they may offer a newsletter or listserv to inform interested members of relevant policy or advocacy issues.
  • Contact or meet with your Congressional representative or a member of their staff.  Elected officials want to hear from their constituents -– connect with them on social media, attend local events or schedule a meeting in person with them either on Capitol Hill or at their District Office.  Check with your professional organization’s public affairs division, especially if you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C.  It is possible they can help you schedule a meeting and/or accompany you to meet with your representative.

These are just some example and certainly not a comprehensive list of ways to become involved.  If you know of a program in public policy and would like us to mention it on the UPPDA website, please let us know by email.  We are always working to improve our resources!


Postdocs, see below for an important opportunity to influence Pitt’s invention policy:

Currently, University Policy on Intellectual Property (IP) had wording that leaves scientific discoveries made by Pitt graduate students and faculty vulnerable to be claimed by individuals who are privy to this information (e.g., thesis committee members), but are not otherwise collaborating or participating in the research. The consequences of these outdated IP policies for graduate students and faculty was highlighted in recent news articles.

IP issues have clear implications not only for Pitt graduate students and faculty, but also for Pitt postdocs. You can read more about the current IP policies here.

Most policies regarding assignment of IP rights at Pitt have not been updated in more than a decade. However, these policies are currently under review.  The review committee is requesting input from the University community and aims to propose critical changes within the next few months.   

Postdocs can express their experiences, opinions, and concerns regarding IP issues via the available surveys.

In addition to participating in the surveys, the UPPDA executive board encourages any postdocs who have experienced problems in regards to IP to make the UPPDA aware so we can disseminate/address the concern. You can contact us at


NEW: Revisions made to the Fair Labor Standards Act

What do these revisions mean for Postdocs? Read the statement from the NPA here, and an op-ed from the Director of NIH and the Secretary of Labor here. For more links regarding the FLSA, click here. UPDATE: we recently received a memo from the Senior Vice Chancellor at Pitt - read it here.