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Postdoc Academy


The Postdoc Academy is leading a project to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 on postdocs at Cambridge and how the University can best respond to the needs which are emerging.

In particular, we are seeking to understand how the pandemic’s impacts have differed, and how its after-effects will continue to differ, across groups within our community.

We want to build a highly nuanced, inclusive understanding of the challenges experienced and potential future issues, so that we can shape responses in ways which fully respect the extraordinary diversity of the University’s postdocs.

We are looking for volunteers to participate in a series of community focus groups. These sessions will be facilitated by two expert equity and inclusion consultants, Suzy Levy and Diane Stephen. Sessions will last 90-120 minutes and will take place on Zoom.


Why participate?

By getting involved in this project, you will have the opportunity to:

  • talk through your experiences of the pandemic with colleagues from similar backgrounds, in a confidential discussion supported by impartial external facilitators
  • identify shared challenges and collectively explore potential solutions
  • help the University to identify specific actions to support key groups within the postdoc community
  • contribute to making Cambridge a more inclusive environment for all postdocs, now and in the future.


Community groups

If you decide to participate, you will self-select whichever community group you feel is right for you, and you are welcome to attend more than one session if doing so will better enable you to represent the intersectionality of your experience.

Community groups will be formed of postdocs who identify as:

  • having caring responsibilities, e.g. children, elderly people, other
  • Black
  • East Asian, e.g. Chinese, Hong Kong, Japanese, Korean
  • South Asian, e.g. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi
  • LGBTQ+
  • women
  • men
  • having one or more physical disability (visible and non-visible)
  • neurodiverse, e.g. autistic spectrum, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, other
  • experiencing mental ill health, e.g. depression, anxiety, bipolar, other.


We know that colleagues right across academia are extremely busy and, in many cases, exhausted from the disruption of the past year, so we recognise that participating in a community focus group at this time might feel like a lot to ask.

We also acknowledge that this is the first time that the University has sought to reach out to postdocs from particular personal backgrounds in this way, and this may not feel comfortable for everyone.

Our intent is to provide a safe space for an honest reflection on the impacts of the pandemic, with a particular view to identifying unequal or uneven trends, and to achieve a step change in how we understand the diverse needs of the postdoc community.


Take part

If you would like to participate in this project, please complete this short form.

The groups have been provisionally scheduled for the following dates/times:

15 June 13:00 - 15:00 Postdocs with caring responsibilities (e.g. children, elderly people, other)
16 June 13:00 - 15:00 Female postdocs
22 June 13:00 - 15:00 South Asian postdocs (e.g. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi)
23 June 13:00 - 15:00 Male postdocs
24 June 10:30 - 12:30 LGBTQ+ postdocs
25 June 10:00 - 12:00 Black postdocs
28 June 12:30 - 14:30 East Asian postdocs (e.g. Chinese, Hong Kong, Japanese, Korean)
30 June 13:00 - 15:00 Postdocs with one or more physical disability (visisble and non-visible)
1 July 10:30 - 12:30 Neurodiverse postdocs ( e.g. autistic spectrum, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, other)
7 July 13:00 - 15:00 Postdocs experiencing mental ill health (e.g. depression, anxiety, bipolar, other)



Data protection

When you apply, your web form will be sent directly to the Project Coordinator.

Nobody else at the University will have access to this information, and there will be no observers or note-takers from the University sitting in on the community focus groups.

All groups will be run under the Chatham House Rule. Any notes, chat messages, or other data associated with the groups will be kept by the Project Coordinator and the two Consultants, and all data will deleted at or before the completion of the project (30 September 2021).



If you would like to ask questions or discuss any aspect of this project, then please contact Stephanie Tolhurst, Project Coordinator.