Sarah Thomas, Ph.D. is the recipient of the inaugural VCU Science Communication Award for her presentation: “An Introduction to Immunofluorescence: There is Light at the End of the Tunnel.” Her presentation was part of the 2019 season of “How To Talks by Postdocs. VCU Libraries. The award is new to the annual speaker series sponsored by VCU Libraries, the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and the VCU Postdoctoral Association.

Thomas, who is now a field application scientist at Olympus, a life sciences equipment company, notes that “part of the reason I got this job was because of the opportunities that VCU afforded me like the How-to Talks series. I brought up my experiences with the How-to Talks series during the interviews and even shared a link to one of my presentations because the interviewers asked for it. Clearly they liked what they saw!”

Since 2015, the How-to Talks by Postdocs series of instructional brown-bag lunch talks for the general VCU health sciences community, gives postdocs a unique opportunity for teaching and recognition. These are not seminar talks, but an opportunity for postdocs to hone their science communication skills by informing the public about a topic related to the health sciences. Each How-to Talk is about one-hour. The series is made up of six to eight sessions each Fall on a range of topics. Past talks included diverse topics such as choosing a postdoctoral fellowship, immunofluorescence microscopy, and developing new devices to aid individuals who are visually impaired.

New to the How-to Talks in 2019,  is the VCU Science Communication Award. Says series coordinator Stacey Wahl, Ph.D.: “While our talks are special opportunities for postdocs to learn and teach, we wanted to find a way to reward their participation in the series beyond our appreciation. To that end, VCU Libraries spearheaded an effort to develop an award for the series.” This award is presented to the speaker with the most outstanding talk from the series. The award includes a certificate, special recognition at the award reception and on the How-to Talks website, and a $100 cash prize, sponsored by the VCU Postdoctoral Association (PDA). Most importantly, this award is something that can be highlighted on a postdoctoral fellow’s curriculum vitae, and set them apart when they enter the job market.

Interested in learning more about the How-To Talks? Talks from the 2019 series are available on  YouTube and Kaltura.  Be sure to check out the winning talk, “An Introduction to Immunofluorescence: There is Light at the End of the Tunnel.” The application window for the 2020 series will open May 1, 2020 for the series taking place in Fall 2020. More information for interested speakers can be found at the How-to Talks website. Questions and inquiries about potential topics can be directed to School of Medicine, Basic Sciences Liaison, Stacey Wahl, Ph.D. at

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