Published: Sept. 17, 2020

Brian Aguado

Brian Aguado

CU Boulder’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), in partnership with universities across the country, is offering a slate of virtual sessions for both postdocs and mentors during National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) from September 21–25, 2020. 

Now in its eleventh year, NPAW is annually sponsored by the National Postdoc Association, of which all CU Boulder postdocs are members, to highlight the impact postdocs have on the research, scholarship and creative work of institutions. 


This year’s Outstanding Postdoc Award, reserved for postdocs excelling in research productivity and innovation, communication and leadership, is awarded to Dr. Brian Aguado (BioFrontiers, Chemical & Biological Engineering). 

Laura Dee

Laura Dee

Aguado was nominated by Dr. Kristi Anseth, distinguished professor, Tisone professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and head of academic leadership of the BioFrontiers Institute.

Anseth’s research group aims to develop biomaterial systems for 3D cell culture that can be applied in cell delivery and regenerative medicine. Anseth described Aguado as “a gem of a scientist and person…with keen intellect, natural drive for research, infectious enthusiasm, scientific rigor and commitment to mentorship and diversity.” 

Aguado is a recipient of the prestigious NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award and will assume a faculty position at the University of California San Diego in July 2021.

Aguado is also a former president of the Postdoctoral Association of Colorado Boulder (PAC Boulder), a group of CU Boulder postdocs with whom OPA partners closely on initiatives to enhance CU Boulder’s postdoc community.

Nancy Emery

Nancy Emery

The Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Awards, recognizing exceptional advisors who regularly engage with their postdocs, are presented to Drs. Laura Dee (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), Nancy Emery (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) and Bill Penuel (Institute of Cognitive Science, School of Education). 

Dee is an ecologist who explores strategies to sustain robust ecosystems in the face of climate change. Lill Karraka, a postdoc fellow in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, attested to Dee’s valuable professional guidance in “reviewing job application documents, sharing resources and advice, organizing practice sessions for job interviews and ‘job-talks’” for every member of the research group. 

Also from Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Nancy Emery and her team seek to understand plant adaptation and survival. Emery was nominated by Meagan Oldfather who praised Emery’s mentorship around scientific writing and job exploration. Oldfather wrote that Emery provides postdocs “the opportunity to push forward projects and further collaborations that are beneficial for multiple potential career trajectories” noting she does so in an “incredibly encouraging and meaningful” way. 

William Penuel

Bill Penuel

Penuel, a member of the National Academy of Education, is a professor of learning sciences and human development. He was nominated by Kerri Wingert (School of Education), who, testifying to Penuel’s comradery wrote “many of his postdocs become long-term fixtures in our respective CU Boulder units, staying on as research faculty and conducting independent research efforts long after our postdoc appointments are finished.” Additional nominators for Penuel include research associates Ashley Potvin (Institute of Cognitive Science, School of Education) and Jessica Alzen (Institute of Cognitive Science, School of Education), as well as doctoral candidate Robbin Riedy (School of Education).

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