Rowan celebrates postdoctoral researchers during National Postdoc Appreciation Week

Rowan celebrates postdoctoral researchers during National Postdoc Appreciation Week


Postdoctoral fellows, or postdocs, are university employees who have completed doctoral studies and make up a vital part of the university ecosystem.

Rowan University, the fourth-fastest growing public university in America, has had as many as 26 postdocs in a single academic year and honors all its current postdocs Sept. 18-22 during National Postdoc Appreciation Week.

Dr. Tabbetha A. Dobbins, dean of Rowan University’s School of Graduate Studies and professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, said postdocs contribute greatly to a broad spectrum of research in positions that often serve as a bridge between doctoral studies and career.

“They’re the engines that get the research done,” Dobbins said. “Postdocs drive innovation and outcomes.”

Following investigative agendas set by supervising professors, postdocs do not, as a rule, have teaching responsibilities, and commit themselves wholly to research, Dobbins said.

Currently, she said, postdocs work across all of Rowan’s campuses including in the departments of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Pediatrics, Psychology and Chemical Engineering.

Dr. Yusuf Mehta, director of Rowan CREATES (the Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering), this year has eight postdoctoral fellows working for him, more than any other University program.

He said postdocs are critical for a continuity of research at CREATES, which develops innovative pavement applications for a broad array of clients, from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).

“Postdocs help me maintain continuity as students graduate and provide a level of detail, extensive technical rigor, that the projects demand,” Mehta said.

Dr. Ahmed Saidi, who earned his Ph.D. from the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering in 2022, works with Mehta, currently testing ways to make recycling roadway asphalt more efficient.

“With our project, cold in-place recycling, we do not introduce heat,” Saidi said. “We go to a roadway that’s in bad or severe condition, mill it and reuse it.”

Also a postdoc in the CREATES lab, Dr. Surya Teja Swarna received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland. His work involves designing pavements that are resistant to extreme weather, products that could be vitally important to American drivers and clients such as the NJDOT and the DOD.

“Because of climate change, temperatures are increasing and there’s more flooding,” Swarna said. “Our project involves coming up with pavements that are more sustainable and resistant to a changing climate.”

A licensed psychologist with the CARES Institute at Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Elizabeth McIntyre served as a postdoc with the institute from 2020-2022, providing treatment to children who experienced abuse or trauma.

“From the beginning of my postdoc, there was intentionality in crafting a training experience that was well-balanced, supportive and rigorous, and that also fostered my connection to the CARES community,” said McIntyre, who took part in the program amid the COVID-19 pandemic and who now serves as a mental health clinician at CARES. “I could not have landed in a better place for navigating that unique time while receiving excellent clinical training (providing) specialized mental health services (to) children impacted by trauma.”