Postdoctoral Association






As an association run by postdocs for postdocs, the WSU-PDA's mission is to promote the professional development and social well-being of the postdoctoral community at Wayne State University. We aim to:

  • Optimize the professional development of postdoctoral scholars at Wayne State University in order to facilitate their successful transition to a professional career
  • Promote social interactions between its members by creating a forum for social gathering and discussion of issues related to the postdoctoral experience at WSU.
  • ​Recognize outstanding postdoctoral scholars at WSU, highlight the impact of postdoctoral research within WSU and connect WSU postdoctoral scholars to regional and national postdoctoral organizations.
  • Organize community outreach efforts by the postdoctoral scholars of WSU.

The WSU-PDA is run by a steering committee composed of a dedicated team of postdocs from various departments across the WSU campus. In addition to the steering committee, several standing committees have been set up to effectively carry out the mission of the WSU-PDA. These include the Professional Development, Advocacy, Media and Networking, Events, and Fundraising and Publications committees. The advisor for the PDA is Associate Dean of Postdoctoral Affairs, Dr. Tim Stemmler.

​Please read the WSU-PDA's bylaws for further information.

Meet the PDA

PDA 2017 committee member bios

Want to join the PDA? Complete this form, and a committee member will be in touch with you. Sign up to get timely email alerts of all our activities and other relevant information for postdocs. You can also follow us and join our group on Facebook and LinkedIn.

We are always looking for postdocs who would like to get involved.  If interested, please contact Nadia Saadat, or Chitra Thakur,


WSU-PDA Spotlight Seminar December 2017

2:30 to 3:30 p.m., December 15
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Rm 3105 (259 Mack Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201)

Drs. Chitra Thakur and Jennifer Gómez presenting their research. See bios below.

RSVP by Thursday, Dec. 14

Chitra Thakur PhD postdoctoral scholarChitra Thakur, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Molecular Oncology

Chitra Thakur has been working in the field of cancer research ever since she started her graduate studies in molecular oncology, which enabled her to expand her scientific training on transgenic mouse technology, molecular biology of metastasis and lung cancer. During her doctoral studies, she generated a novel mouse model that allowed her to perform lineage tracing of metastasis in Non-small cell lung cancer.

In her postdoctoral research work, she began studying the role of mdig gene in environmental factors mediated pulmonary pathologies and lung carcinogenesis. Towards this project she found that mdig gene deficiency ameliorated silica mediated lung fibrosis in mice by alerting the balance between T regulatory cells and Th 17 cells (Thakur et al. Oncotarget, 2015). Her curiosity to investigate mdig's role in human cancers directed her focus on breast cancer and lung cancer, as they are the deadliest and leading cause of cancer related deaths in women and men respectively. Her studies became the first report to show the existence of an inverse relationship between mdig gene expression and patient survival including poorer overall, distant metastasis free, relapse free and post progression survival in breast cancer patients (Thakur et al. Gene, 2014). These findings motivated her to explore more on the mechanisms by which mdig gene influences breast cancer development on exposures to environmental and occupational hazards. Her goal is to pursue the potential interaction between mdig gene and environmental risk factors in breast cancer as well as in lung cancer, thereby gaining useful mechanistic insights about how mdig gene alters the normal breast and lung tissue homeostasis and affects immune system resulting in breast and lung cancer. The overall motive is to understand how external factors influence the etiology of breast and lung cancer with mdig gene as the central player in environmental induced breast and lung cancer development and progression.

Dr. Thakur loves writing and working in teams to help people reach their full potential. She likes spending time and travelling with her 3 year old daughter and husband.

Jennifer M. Gomez PhD postdoctoral fellowJennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute

Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2017 from University of Oregon. She is a postdoctoral fellow in the Wayne State University Postdoctoral to Faculty Transition Fellowship Program, researching trauma in minority middle and late adolescents at Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. Dr. Gómez has published 12 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals, 2 book chapters, 7 scholarly articles, and 10 pieces for the general public. Additionally, she has given 11 invited talks, 9 paper presentations, and 17 poster presentations. Her work has been recognized, with "Shifting the focus: Nonpathologizing approaches to healing from betrayal trauma through an emphasis on relational care" (Gómez et al., 2016) winning the Richard P. Kluft Award for Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 2016 Best Article and "Are Hallucinations Related to Betrayal Trauma Exposure? A Three-Study Exploration" (Gómez et al., 2014) among the top 10 most cited articles of 2016 in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, & Policy. Additionally, she received the American Psychology Association Division 56 Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Field of Trauma Psychology. Her dissertation was funded by the National Academy of Sciences through the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program and featured on the Association of Black Psychologists website. In proposing cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT), Dr. Gómez includes interpersonal trauma in conjunction with discrimination to examine mental health outcomes in minority populations. According to CBTT, if a Black female is sexually assaulted by a Black male, the outcomes of this cultural betrayal trauma, such as PTSD, are impacted by both the victim and perpetrator experiencing discrimination in society. Condemned To Dance: Cultural Betrayal Trauma Theory, choreographed by Dr. Gómez, illustrates CBTT for a general audience on youtube. Research in CBTT has implications for reducing urban disparities through informing culturally competent mental healthcare for minority victims of trauma.

Spotlights and publications

In an effort to promote awareness of all the great work being done by postdocs at Wayne State, the PDA collects and shares recent publication highlights and professional accomplishments from postdoctoral scholars. For information about sharing these notices with the PDA, contact Amy Pennar,

*If you would like to be removed from the WSU-PDA e-mail list, send an e-mail (from the e-mail address you would like removed) to LISTSERV@LISTS.WAYNE.EDU with the text: signoff POSTDOCS