September 2019 – Upcoming Opportunities

Volunteer at STEM Starters

When: September 21st, 1 pm-3 pm (Physics), October 19th, November 9th.

Where: Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute (609 West 129th Street), Education Lab (ground floor).

STEM Starters is an outreach program run by Columbia University graduate students passionate about teaching STEM topics to middle and high school students. Every month, scientists and students gather together for an afternoon of experiments in different fields.

If you want to mingle and have fun while sharing your knowledge and passion with kids contact STEM Starters. For more information, check their webpage.


Volunteer with CUNO at Citizen Schools

When: Multi-visit program for this Fall semester (10 weeks).

Where: East Harlem.

CUNO (Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach) is seeking volunteers to participate in the after-school program Citizen Schools. All the lessons are already planned out and supplies are given, so except for some prep you can mostly show up and teach (or feel free to change the lessons in any way you want). A Citizen Schools teacher is there the whole time, so it ‘s an easy way to start teaching if you have no previous experience.

This semester we will be pairing with a school in East Harlem – either Renaissance School of the Arts or P.S./I.S 157 Benjamin Franklin. The class day will be determined depending on volunteer availability, with the options being Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 4:15- 5:40pm.
The first day of apprenticeships will be in the week of September 30th; the Apprenticeship Pitch Fairs will take place the week of September 16th, and the Apprenticeship Design Training will be the week of September 23rd, and The WOW!s (poster session) will take place the week of December 16th.

If you think you might be interested in volunteering or have questions, please email or and they will get back to you with some more information!

[Please keep in mind if you decide to volunteer for this you have to commit to teaching all the sessions. If you need to miss one that is ok as long as you communicate it to the other volunteer(s) and teacher, but in general you must be available for the whole session.]

Summer Social

Summer Social:

June-August, 2019 @ NYC (Organizers: Networking & Community Building Committee) 

The Summer was full of fun events for Columbia Postdocs led by our favorite Networking & Community Building Committee team: Olaya, Alessia, John, Dhru, Alex, Holly, Nicolas and Nicole.


We kicked off the Summer with a Soccer & Picnic Combo Event at Riverbank State Park on June 22. We played soccer, card games, shared food and enjoyed the super sunny weather.


On July 23, fans of the traditional Disney movie “The Lion King” got to discover the 2019 computer-animated remake of the movie in a legendary Movie Night outing. Nostalgia levels: off the charts!


We also got to enjoy another great Happy Hour at one of our favorite spots: the beer garden of Bierstrasse Harlem on August 2nd. Great attendance once again!


Oh and that’s not all! We also had PostdoQs and OPA hosting a Pride Month Happy Hour in June while a few lucky attendants got to watch the movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet“, Free Movie in the Park! (July, Pier 46 at Hudson River Park).

Stay tuned and check out our social media posts  for more social events coming up soon!



Financial Planning Seminar Series

Financial Planning Seminar Series:

August 8th, 2019 @ VEC, CUMC Campus (Organizers: Olaya Fernandez Gayol, Regina Martuscello, Advocacy Committee) 


The Advocacy Committee is introducing a brand new series of talks aimed at postdocs to learn about different aspects of everyday life in the United States, from personal finances to taxes, insurance and housing.

For the first talk in this brand new series, we received Leonard Berman from First Manhattan Co. In this seminar, Leonard covered the basics of savings, investments and personal finance management giving postdocs practical tools to help manage their finances in such an expensive city like NYC!

Take-home messages:

  1. Invest in your retirement early and often, the power of the compound will make your money grow.
  2. Always make the highest amount of matching funds into your retirement – its free money!
  3. The market fluctuates. Don’t panic. Don’t sell at the bottom.

Stay tuned for our next session that will cover “Insurance in the USA” in the Fall!





All the information given in this seminar is for educational purposes only, and not to be considered as financial advice. Neither we (CUPS) nor the speaker (Leonard Berman) have any responsability in the consequences of your actions derived from the information obtained in this seminar or elsewhere.








Meet Alex Karambelas, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Dr. Alex Karambelas, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Meet Our Postdocs: Alex Karambelas, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Which department are you in at Columbia and what is your position?

I’m a postdoctoral research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. I started at Columbia University as a recipient of The Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Where are you from and how long have you been in NYC?  Hoffman Estates, IL and I’ve been in NYC for 3 years!

Where did you go to school? Describe your path to your current position.          

I went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison for atmospheric sciences, but I knew my passion was outside the realm of mid-latitude cyclones or the Madden-Julian oscillation. As a senior undergraduate, I worked on projects modeling concentrations of air pollution in the lower atmosphere and comparing with observations, and I quickly found my “happy place” in science. I continued on with my advisor through a Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary environmental science program with a minor in Energy Analysis and Policy, which I applied directly to my work in assessing energy sector contributions to modeled air pollution.

What research question are you trying to figure out right now?

I’m currently investigating the differences in aerosol composition and optical properties between average conditions and peak pollution events in India. Unpacking these differences has implications for assessing the climate implications of aerosols as a whole and specific types that may warm or cool the local environment.

In a nutshell, what tools or approaches are you using to try and figure this out?

For this work, I use a chemical transport community model (it’s worked on by researchers all over the world!) called GEOS-Chem. There’s a specific module that calculates the optical properties of different aerosol components over a set of size bins. We run the model with this component a few different times to get information over a long period of time (3 years) and at a very high resolution for peak events lasting just 5 days to assess the differences in composition and direct radiative effects induced by the aerosol components.

What is the best part of your job?            

The best part of my job is working with and learning from some really amazing, world-class researchers. Whether at workshops or on calls, it’s been really wonderful to move forward in my research alongside some stellar role models.

Why do you love science?

I love science because it encourages curiosity. Long ago I got into an argument with a scientist friend who disagreed with me that science was an art. I still stand by my statement, and I think a lot of others might agree with me too.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in science?

If you can’t find “your people,” don’t give up and keep your eyes open for new directions. Every few years I start to feel a little jaded by my research, whether it’s a specific project I’ve been hammering at for too long or I feel out of place in the field. I use this as an opportunity to wrap things up and move on. It’s been a real blessing to finally be able to read (and listen to) myself.

Tell us a bit about yourself or your projects that are not related to science.           

Outside of CUPS, I am focused on work-life balance (it’s a work in progress). I found a workout class I love that I go to weekly (finally! ask me about it and come with!), I’ve found a way to include time for reading fiction (usually when I’m traveling), and recently I re-kindled my relationship with cooking as I’m discovering all of the neat vegetarian-friendly protein options available in the grocery stores.

What is your favorite thing about NYC?

I have two favorite things: (1) that — for the most part — you don’t need a car to get around town, and (2) that in NYC you can feel comfortable to be yourself especially if it means standing out.

When did you join CUPS and what is your current role, if any?        

I joined CUPS in 2018, after finally feeling like I had my footing in my research and my life in NYC. I’ve been active in all of our committees during my time with CUPS, and currently I’m the outgoing President.

What do you like the most about CUPS? 

First, CUPS has been an incredibly easy way to learn about the diverse array of research ongoing at Columbia. I would have never been exposed to neuroscientists and pathologists and biomedical engineers and more, nor would I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from them as individuals. Second, it has been an honor to serve as the President of CUPS (even for a short time), where I was able to learn more about the inner-workings of Columbia, hear from a variety of postdocs about their struggles and triumphs, and ensure ongoing leadership of an easy-access support network for us as postdocs.

To follow Alex: