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Grad student and postdoc community engagement during shelter-in-place

Head shot of Stacey Bent
Mar 24 2020
Announcement, Faculty, Stanford, Students, VPGE

Dear Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars,

We are now several weeks into this period of extraordinary change and uncertainty. I want to convey to you my appreciation for all you are doing to keep yourselves, your family, and your community safe, wherever you are right now. The disruptions to your studies, your research, and your immediate career plans can feel enormous, and each of you is adapting and sacrificing in unique ways. I am moved by your resilience.

Since I wrote to you last week, several significant University decisions were made, including cessation of all non-essential research laboratory activity in response to the March 17 shelter-in-place order and the announcement that spring quarter courses will taught virtually (see the latest updates on Health Alerts). These decisions provide much-needed clarity in an uncertain time, allowing us to focus now on ways we can support your academic progress and training under these exceptional circumstances.

The critical role that institutions such as Stanford play in society are never more apparent than in times of crisis. And indeed, our University community is deeply engaged in numerous aspects of the global response to COVID-19, ranging from the medical to the legal, from policy analysis to social implications of the pandemic. Knowing that so many of you are motivated by a deep desire to make the world a better place and would like to engage intellectually with the complexities of this current global challenge, I am initiating a series of “Community Conversations about the Global Pandemic” that I will be hosting starting this Thursday, March 26 from 12-1 pm with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne as my first guest. Subsequent guests will be announced later. I hope you can take a lunch break and join us for these discussions on Zoom.

Here are a few ideas of other activities already underway. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the VPGE office are moving some of our spring professional development programs to Zoom, making them available in real time and asynchronously. We are also collaborating on curating and developing new virtual programming to help you meet your academic and training goals, including trainings on virtual research tools. Many of our partner offices are also providing one-on-one coaching sessions and other virtual programming. Please look for more information in future emails and newsletters.

For those of you planning to graduate or complete your training soon, VPGE co-sponsors two spring courses that will be offered virtually and are open to all grad students and postdocs (by registration or audit): John Boothroyd’s Preparing for Faculty Careers course (with OPA) and the Life Design Lab’s Designing the Professional. In addition, our five Career Centers offer virtual coaching, workshops, and clinics to help you explore career options, prepare applications and interviews, and negotiate job offers. This may also be an opportunity for those of you at any stage of your training to develop virtual mentoring relationships. The Stanford Alumni Association and the Stanford LinkedIn group can connect you with thousands of Stanford affiliates who may share your aspirations.

We would love to hear your suggestions about how we can support your academic progress as well as foster a sense of community even as we are physically separated. Please send ideas via email to or And please continue to check the Health Alerts website for new information.

I know the next few months will be challenging in many ways; at the same time, I know each of us will adapt to new ways of working and living. It is also natural at times like these to slow our pace, redefine our goals, and focus on supporting others. Your well being, the role you play as an important member of our community, and your contributions to the world beyond matter to all of us.

Kind regards,

Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor, by courtesy, of Materials Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Chemistry