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Welcome Dr. Paola Cepeda – Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Published December 17, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that, after a nationwide search, Paola Cepeda, PhD, has been named Director of Postdoctoral Affairs in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, effective January 4, 2022.

Paola currently serves as the Program Manager for Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development at Stony Brook University. In the role since 2019, Paola develops curricula for the professional development and career education of doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars. A well-established career of academic mentoring and coaching, Paola has advised over 500 students and trainees from various disciplines of STEM, Medicine, Arts, Humanities and Social Science on topics such as academic success, career planning, personal growth, professional skills development, fellowship applications and science communication. Paola also leads the PhD Career Ladder Program (PCLP), an innovative 7-step peer-led preparation framework that explores career pathways within and beyond academia.

In her new role at Washington University, Paola will serve the postdoctoral community on both campuses. She will manage all the administrative aspects of the Community including directing and implementing programs and events, developing publications, providing information on positions, housing and career opportunities, and facilitating communications that address the specific needs of the postdoctoral community.

An expert in implicit bias awareness and inclusive language, Paola will leverage her expertise towards initiatives and projects that support the advancement for people of color, women, and LGBTQ-identifying trainees. Paola, a fierce advocate for clear and inclusive policies and regulations for postdoctoral training, will collaborate with faculty, department leaders and administrators across the university to promote inclusive perspectives and create new opportunities that will enhance the trainee experience while they pursue their professional growth and academic success at WashU.

Paola earned her bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Linguistics, a master’s in Linguistics and a doctorate in Linguistics & Andean Studies from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She earned her second doctorate degree in Linguistics from Stony Brook University.

Paola succeeds Erin Heckler, PhD, who left the position this summer to assume the role of Associate Provost for Postdoctoral Affairs at Yale University. We thank her for her role in creating the University-wide office, for the programs that she initiated, and for her service to the postdoctoral community here at Washington University.

In addition to welcoming Paola, I want to take this opportunity to thank our search committee. This position is crucial to developing and nurturing our Postdoctoral Community. We were especially fortunate to have a strong pool of applicants, and the search committee did a fantastic job of recommending such a talented person for this important role.

I am delighted that Dr. Paola Cepeda will be joining Washington University to lead the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Please join me in congratulating Paola on her new position!

Jennifer Lodge, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Research