The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) held its inaugural meeting at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley on Saturday, full of optimism but struggling to define itself and its goals.
Carol Manahan, a postdoc at Johns Hopkins University and one of seven founding members of the NPA, opened the meeting, saying, "I really hope that this is a moment in history." From the audience of nearly 100 came spontaneous applause, and even a few "woo-hoos." Enthusiasm dominated the day-long forum, as speakers expressed hope that the NPA would give a voice to one of the most underappreciated groups in science.
But a strong note of uncertainty tempered the enthusiasm. The meeting's main sessions were devoted to addressing a single question, "What is a Postdoc?" By the end of the day, few clear answers had emerged and little had been done toward establishing goals and strategies for the new association.