NPAW 2022: What’s Next After a Cal Postdoc? Berkeley Postdoc Alum Shed Some Light


By Tarini Mehta | VSPA News Editor | September 29, 2022

Being a postdoctoral scholar is a great commitment and an even greater achievement. But even the brightest researchers struggle with one basic question that plagues students across disciplines and stages: what next? 

As part of National Postdoc Appreciation Week 2022, the Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) office and Berkeley Postdoc Association came together to host a virtual panel discussion on careers after postdoc appointments. The discussion was held on Tuesday, September 20. 

Three former UC Berkeley postdocs - Moustafa AbdelBaky, Briana Abrahms and David DeLiema - shared their experiences of job-hunting during the discussion. 

Moustafa AbdelBaky is a senior computer scientist at NASA Ames Research Center and the Head of Platform at Linea Labs. Previously, he was an EECS postdoc at the RISELab at UC Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. from Rutgers, where he was a three-time recipient of the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship and the recipient of the Rutgers ECE Academic Achievement Award.

Briana Abrahms is an assistant professor and Boersma Endowed Chair in Natural and Conservation at the University of Washington’s Department of Biology and Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, with broad interests in behavioral ecology, global change biology, and conservation. She has a B.S. in physics from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. 

After his postdoc appointment at UC Berkeley, David DeLiema became an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. His research examines how instructors and students notice, justify, and respond to impasses during learning. His work covers topics such as playful learning, embodied cognition, and spatial reasoning within technology-rich settings and foregrounding learning through social interaction.

The three speakers discussed how they managed the transition from their postdoctoral appointments to academic and non-academic careers. They also shared insights on the job market in the time of a pandemic. 

The session was moderated by Berkeley Postdoc Association Vice President Israel Borokini and VSPA Program Coordinator Marci Burke. 

It was one of a series of events hosted by the VSPA in September to honor postdoctoral scholars and acknowledge their important contributions.