skip to content

Postdoc Academy


Karina Prasad

Head of Academy


Karina has spent more than 20 years as a senior project manager for the Charity and Higher education sectors both in the USA and UK. These included a leading national Children’s charity in the US and Age Concern (Now AgeUK) here in the UK.

Following a number of years working with graduate matters and programmes related to clinical academics, Karina is now the Head of the Postdoc Academy at the University of Cambridge. Previously Karina spent eight years at the University’s Clinical School of Medicine where she set up and ran the Clinical Academic Training Office.

Karina is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, a Professional By-Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge and holds positions on numerous Cambridge University committees including human resources, researcher development, entrepreneurship and leadership development, volunteering, and equality and diversity matters related to gender. Karina also engages widely with national and international organisations related to early career research staff.

Back to staff list.



Liz Simmonds

Assistant Head of Academy - Strategy


Liz is assistant head of office with responsibility for strategy. Liz works on policy development and projects relevant to postdocs at the institutional and national level. She is chair of the university’s Concordat Working Group, which is leading the implementation of the Researcher Development Concordat. She also sits on the University REC and Athena Swann operational committees, the DORA working group, the staff survey operational team, and the advisory board for CUSPE.

She is secretary to the PdOC Society, and also supports the Postdoc Chairs’ Network. On a national level, she represents Cambridge on Researchers’ 14.

Liz has been working with postdocs for more than 12 years. In 2007, she joined the University of Cambridge where she helped to set up the Postdoc Careers Service, developing workshops, resources and offering individual support to help postdocs achieve their career aspirations.

Prior to joining the University, Liz worked as a Programme Manager at STEMNET, an organisation dedicated to engaging young people in STEM subjects, and as a News Editor for Chemistry in Britain magazine. She has a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Back to staff list.



Susie Chan

Assistant Head of Academy - Operations


The Operations Manager role covers Finance, HR, Communications and administration of the office, centres and projects.

Susie joined the University of Cambridge in 2000 and has worked in a number of roles, including the creation and management of central finance support teams, business process improvements, project management for building refurbishment, as a member of the Finance Division’s management team and interim finance manager for the Judge Business School.

She has served on the Staff Childcare Committee, Greenwich House Management Committee, Greenwich House Green Impact Team and as chair for the Social Committee. She currently sits on the NWC Stakeholders Group, serves as a non-executive director for two University subsidiaries and oversees operational aspects of the Postdoc Academy and its three centres.

Susie’s interests include enhancing the customer/user experience and implementing improvements to the work-life balance of staff and the volunteer corps. She is committed in helping with the building of the new community at Eddington.

Back to staff list.



Steve Joy

Head of Researcher Development


Steve has been working with postdocs since 2009. He currently leads the researcher development teams in the PdA and the Cambridge Centre for Teaching & Learning, supporting innovation and continuous enhancement. He also supports the wider researcher development agenda across the University, working with colleagues in professional and academic departments to ensure accessible, inclusive, high-quality provision.

Steve's background is in German Studies, and he wrote his PhD on the fiction of Thomas Mann. He has five years' experience of supervising and lecturing at Cambridge, and is also an accredited practitioner for MBTI and Belbin.

Back to staff list.



Hannah Fromageau

Senior Researcher Development Associate


Hannah specialises in the design and delivery of professional development courses for postdocs, focusing particularly on leadership, coaching and mentoring, and personal effectiveness.

Hannah's background is in career development and, before joining Cambridge, she worked in a number of London universities establishing and managing mentorship programmes, and teaching on careers education and guidance courses. She became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.

Back to staff list.



Katia Smith-Litiere

Project Manager - Knowledge Transfer & Entrepreneurship


Katia is the project manager of the postdocs 2 innovators (p2i) programme. The p2i network is a partnership between five leading European HEIs and three global businesses with the aims to develop and strengthen an entrepreneurial mindset in postdoctoral researchers and encourage not just entrepreneurial activities but a broad approach to endeavours both in and outside academia.

Katia has over 15 years experience in life sciences and the healthcare sector, initially as academic researcher and subsequently through consulting for government and for pharmaceutical, diagnostics, medical device, biotechnology and consumer healthcare organisations. Previously, co-founder and Director of Programmes and Partnerships of the Cambridge Science Centre, an educational charity aimed at highlighting the relevance of science, technology, engineering and maths to our everyday lives through hands-on exhibits, events and outreach programmes.

Katia is currently a director of Biomakespace Cambridge, a non-profit organisation creating an open access laboratory outside academic and industry premises, providing members with affordable access to a well equipped lab and prototyping space, as well as to training and social events.

Back to staff list.



Kristen Frers

Projects & Programmes Coordinator 

Contact: .

Kristen oversees the Postdoc Academy’s projects and programmes for postdocs which includes a Fellowships programme, a mentoring scheme, internship/secondment opportunities and College affiliations.

Previously, she worked as a Research Coordinator at the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences coordinating internal funding streams and a social sciences research programme.

Prior to moving to Cambridge to pursue a PhD, she worked in the museums sector in the US. Kristen holds a BA (Hons) in English and History from Loyola University Chicago, an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a PhD in History from Cambridge.

Back to staff list.



Nicole Horst

Researcher Development Associate - Leadership Training


Nicole works jointly with Researcher Development and with the Postdoc Academy to support the development of postdocs of all disciplines.

Nicole has a particular interest in designing and delivering leadership skills training for postdocs, aiming to equip postdocs with knowledge and tools that facilitate both their postdoctoral journey at Cambridge and their transition to the next career stage.

Nicole previously worked as a postdoc in the Departments of Psychology and Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. She was instrumental in the foundation of the Psychology postdoc committee and helped shape University policies and practices related to postdocs as a member of the Departmental Postdoc Committee Chairs Network and the GRAduate Students and Postdocs (GRASP) Forum for the Graduate School of Life Sciences.

Prior to moving to Cambridge from the US, Nicole completed her PhD in Neuroscience followed by a postdoctoral project, both at Yale University. She also holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University, which required extensive periods of cooperative, practical experience working as a student within Ford Motor Company.

Back to staff list.



Jenny Hayward

Communications Coordinator


Jenny manages all of the Postdoc Academy's communications, including the website, weekly newsletter, social media channels, and films. She also provides communications support for the Postdoc Academy's projects, such as comms strategy, graphic design, production of materials, and promotion.

She has worked at the University since 2015, initially in the Office of External Affairs and Communications, where she worked in Research Communications, before joining the Postdoc Academy in 2016.

In 2020 Jenny completed a secondment in the University's Social Media and AV team, leading on the management, production, and promotion of podcasts.

She also sits on the WiSETI Working Group for promoting and supporting women in STEMM at the University, and the Communications Committee for the p2i network.

Back to staff list.



Hollie Godden

Committees & Societies Coordinator

Contact: .

Hollie provides support to postdoc groups including PdOC, EPOC, PCN and the College Postdoc Convenor network. She takes responsibility for day-to-day society secretarial duties, event and meeting administration, as well as postdoc group projects and funding calls. She also works to support committees and working groups in the Postdoc Academy.

Hollie has an administration background from her time in the NHS and Unified Administrative Services. Before this she was working in an administrative role, within a University department, supporting the department including postdocs in research groups.

Back to staff list.



Stephanie Tolhurst

Project Coordinator

Contact: .

Stephanie’s role as a project coordinator involves the co-ordination and administration for a range of Postdoc Academy programmes which include p2i (Postdocs to Innovators), Leadership Fellowships, mentoring and researcher development activities. General tasks include preparing project plans, monitoring and reporting on these plans and supporting project events, workshops and conferences.

Stephanie has over 13 years’ experience of working in higher and further education. Stephanie started working for the University of Cambridge in 2018, originally within a university department, supporting the organisation of undergraduate placements. Before this, Stephanie worked at a higher education college for over 11 years as a Project Coordinator and Apprenticeship Assessor.

Back to staff list.



Lydia Nowak

Project Coordinator

Contact: .

Lydia’s role as a Project Coordinator involves the coordination and administration for a range of Postdoc Academy programmes which include p2i (Postdocs to Innovators), Leadership Fellowships, mentoring and researcher activities. General tasks include preparing project plans, monitoring and reporting on these plans and supporting project events, workshops and conferences.

Lydia has a background in education, initially training as a primary school teacher. Having previously worked for the Cambridge Assessment Group, Lydia started working for the University in 2017 in the Development and Alumni Relations Office.

Back to staff list.



Ceren Kaser

Centres Coordinator / Wellbeing Advocate


Ceren joined the Postdoc Academy as a volunteer in 2014 and is currently working as a centres coordinator providing administrative support with the running of the three postdoc centres and volunteers corps.

Ceren created and runs the Wellbeing Lunchtime Series “Postdocs' Work & Family Life” which focuses on the personal challenges of being a postdoc and explores ways to balance professional and personal responsibilities. The series also creates opportunities for postdocs to meet other researchers and share their personal experiences in a supportive environment. 

Prior to joining the Postdoc Academy, Ceren worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 11 years in sales and product management.

Back to staff list.



Shaun Ballisat

Centres Coordinator

Contact: .

Shaun joined the Postdoc Academy in January 2020 in the role of Centres Coordinator, providing administrative support for the three postdoc centres.

Prior to this, with a background in music, Shaun ran a concert series at the Swinburne Hall, programming events for the students at Colchester Institute and for the general public. This led to a more diverse role as a duty manager at Firstsite Gallery and later as a centre co-ordinator at the IP-City Centre, managing conferencing facilities and serviced offices. 

Shaun recently moved to Cambridge to take up his new position at the Postdoc Academy. When not at work Shaun can either be found on a badminton court, at a classic car show or playing the trombone at one of region’s theatres.

Back to staff list.

Latest news

What's On: Postdoc Appreciation Week 2021

9 September 2021

Find out about the events and activities that are taking place this year to celebrate Postdoc Appreciation Week, and how you can get involved.

Open Research Steering Committee: Postdoc in AHSS needed

17 August 2021

Are you interested in helping shape the future of open research at Cambridge? A vacancy has arisen on this significant strategic committee.

Sustainable Business Travel Policy Consultation

17 August 2021

The University is carrying out a consultation with staff and students to gain feedback on a draft Sustainable Business Travel Policy. You are invited to share your views on business travel and provide feedback on the policy through a 15-minute questionnaire by 29 October.

Tweets from the Postdoc Academy