In addition to his research interests, postdoctoral fellow David Bradshaw, Ph.D., has always wanted to improve the well-being of his fellow students and colleagues. Now, he’s got the chance as the new president of the FAU Postdoctoral Association.
As a previous doctoral student at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI), Bradshaw secured the first student center, a designated place on campus where students could gather and socialize. For fellow postdocs, he wants to help build a sense of community and available resources, such as bringing in lecturers. “Lorena (the previous president) did a superb job and I just want to continue what she was doing and expand upon it,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology in 2010. He spent a little more than two years at Strich School of Medicine in Chicago as part of the Naval Health Professions Scholarship Program and the Inactive Reserves, but withdrew to pursue a research focused career. “I realized I wanted to add to our current knowledge and then improve things.”
After withdrawing from medical school, Bradshaw began looking at graduate programs where he could study diseases. He joined the lab of Peter McCarthy, Ph.D., a research professor at HBOI to investigate the diversity of bacteria and other microorganism communities in the Indian River Lagoon, and how those populations change in response to natural and human impacts, like hurricanes and dredging, respectively. “In the environmental realm, the body is like the water or sediment and the disease is the heavy metals or muck.”
Bradshaw graduated with his doctoral degree last year, and immediately began his work as a postdoctoral fellow. Now, he works with the aquaculture team on a joint project with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help improve marine finfish aquaculture, specifically Florida pompano. His role is to learn more about their genetics and microbiomes. For instance, one of his projects is to examine if fish have more or less pathogens when raised in different salinities by extracting DNA to figure out what microorganisms are present. Understanding how the fish are impacted by salinity helps the farmers, and could ultimately, help them save money and raise healthier fish, he said.
Admittedly, Bradshaw, who spends his free time paddle boarding with his fiance, said he doesn’t know many other postdocs outside those in his lab, which is partly because of the pandemic. Regardless, he said, he realizes there is no well-known place for these researchers to go for counseling or resources to help colleagues to improve their work-life balance. “There’s really not that much of a postdoc community, like having some social gatherings for people who are going through similar experiences,” said Bradshaw, who plans to change all that while working with the team as the postdoc association’s new president.