Postdoctoral Training Course in Scientific Leadership

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Office of Postdoctoral Studies

(608) 265 6225

Critical Skills Training

Postdoctoral trainees are typically well trained in the technical aspects of their discipline but few receive formal training in leadership. This course will equip you with the critical leadership skills you need to succeed in a wide range of scientific career paths.

Interactive Format

The course will consist of six three-hour sessions offered once per month for six months. The sessions will be dynamic and interactive through the use of self-assessments, small group discussions, and case studies drawn from the scientific workplace.

Tailored for Scientists

You will hear the viewpoints and experiences of a range of scientific leaders from industry, academia and government via interviews recorded for the course. These unique videos, in addition to science-specific case studies, will illustrate the relevance of developing leadership and management skills in the context of a scientific career.

Course Brochure (pdf)

The course will be taught by two experts in leadership and management training.

  • Jessica Swenson has been coaching, consulting, and training leadership and management development for more than 12 years and currently serves as the program manager for the Fully Prepared to Lead program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Maureen Miner has been facilitating employee development and coaching employees on best practices in managing teams, conflict, and communication for more than 10 years and currently leads the human resources departments at WARF, WiCell and WiSys.

Course sessions will cover the following fundamental topics in leadership:

Session 1. Exploring Leadership and Discovering Your Interpersonal Style

Friday October 19, 2018
Leadership is not about formal title or authority, it is about your personal behaviors and the ability to influence others to affect positive change. This session will introduce the concepts of leadership and guide you in understanding your personal style and how that affects your relationships with others.

Session 2. Managing Conflict and Communication Essentials

Friday November 16, 2018
Conflict is necessary in leading a successful team, however, it needs to be managed effectively. This session will provide you with best practices on handling conflict and give you a chance to practice applying communication techniques in a variety of situations.

Session 3. Creating High Performing Teams and Leading Successful Meetings

Friday December 14, 2018
Every team goes through phases of development before becoming high performing. Even if you are not the formal team leader, there are positive behaviors you can employ to help teams progress. This session will introduce the phases of team development, different decision-making styles, and tools to help run productive meetings.

Session 4. Giving Constructive Feedback and Motivating for Peak Performance

Friday January 18, 2019
If properly delivered, feedback can be an invaluable gift of mutual respect and learning. This session will guide you through giving constructive feedback instead of criticism. We will also discuss how to harness the motivation within others to help promote a culture of open, honest communication.

Session 5. Conquering Change

Friday February 15, 2019
Change is the only constant in our lives. Understanding the types of change, how individuals react to change differently, and how you can positively manage change is an essential part of leadership. In this session you will become aware of personal choices that help with change and transition as well as methods that will develop your resiliency to change.

Session 6. Program Capstone: Practical Leadership Applications

Friday March 15, 2019
To be an effective leader, you must find the style that works best for you, openly communicate, and commit to personal development and growth. The capstone session will bring together the key takeaways from each session and guide you in developing a personal action plan to become a better leader.

Any research associate, postdoctoral fellow or postdoctoral trainee at UW–Madison or the Morgridge Institute for Research may apply to participate in the course. There are no course fees thanks to the course sponsors.

The application deadline for the 2018 course is September 1, 2018.

The application consists of two parts:

  1. Online application form
  2. Personal statement (5,000 characters maximum)
    Email the statement in a Microsoft Word document to the Office of Postdoctoral Studies ( The statement should explain why you are interested in this course and how it fits your career goals. In the past, the strongest applicants distinguished themselves from other applicants by providing specific examples from their own experiences that outlined how they would benefit from the training offered by this particular course. They also demonstrated in detail that they understood the purpose of each session of the course and how these would apply to them personally in their chosen careers.

Space is limited to 28 participants. You will be notified of the result of the review process by September 30. By accepting a place on the course, you agree to participate in all six sessions.

Please email the Office Postdoctoral Studies ( if you have questions about the application process.

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