Current Committee Members

NUPF Chair

Dean Procter – Having finished my PhD in Sydney, Australia, I am now a post-doc in the Walsh Lab. I use a lot of basic molecular techniques and live-cell fluorescent microscopy to study Herpesviruses and their regulation of microtubule dynamics and transport during assembly and egress. Before moving to Chicago, I worked for a short time in the office of Australia’s first Muslim female politician. I’d like to continue using/developing the communication and organizing skills I learnt there for NUPF.

NUPF Communications Director

Sandra Hackelberg – I am a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Daniela M Menichella in the Neurology Department. In my project, I seek to understand the molecular mechanisms of painful diabetic neuropathy. I received my PhD from the Phillips University of Marburg, Germany. I moved to the US for my first postdoc at the University of Michigan. At U of M I participated in meetings of the postdoctoral association, and knew I wanted to take a more active role in the postdoc community at Northwestern. I joined the CAP committee in fall 2016, and subsequently took on the role as communications director. My role includes preparing the monthly newsletter, coordinating our announcements and co-managing the website.

NUPF Membership and Outreach Officer

Thomas Stoeger – Thomas enjoys the unknown. His attention has wandered from chemistry to fly breeding to computers to the science of science. He believes that NUPF is a great organization for promoting scientific exchange across disciplines and institutional borders.


NUPF Treasurer

Yijuan Du – I joined Dr. James Surmeier’s lab in Department of Physiology as a postdoctoral fellow after receiving my PhD in neuroscience from University of Pittsburgh. My research focuses on cellular mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease and dyskinesia. I joined NUPF CAP committee in October 2016, with the goal of promoting career exploration and development. I am particularly interested in careers in science writing and intellectual property.


NUPF Career and Professional Development Committee Chair

Ana Vicente-Sanchez – I am a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of David Klumpp and Richard Miller studying the mechanisms by which some E.coli strains produce asymptomatic bacteriuria, and their potential therapeutic use as analgesic probiotics. I joined the NUPF CAP committee in September 2015 motivated to foster the NU postdoctoral community, and help other scientists to explore careers and set goals for career development. I believe career planning is essential not only for professional success but also for personal happiness. For this reason, I am also actively engaged in the organization of social scientific events to facilitate networking and collaborations among Chicago Life Science professionals as event planning committee chair of CHIentist.

NUPF Social Committee Co-Chair

Pieter Norden – I am a postdoc in the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute in the laboratory of Tsutomu Kume. I joined the social committee of NUPF in the spring of 2016, shortly after my postdoc began. I joined NUPF because I wanted to be able to reach out to the larger postdoc community at Northwestern outside of my department and serve in a position where I could give back to that community. As a social committee co-chair on the Chicago campus, I help to organize monthly events for postdocs to take a mental break from laboratory work and make long-lasting connections with one another. Over the past year we’ve been able to organize a variety of happy hour events, restaurant outings, and meet-ups at breweries, the orchestra, and other events happening downtown. I look forward to meeting new postdocs and am always open to hear exciting, new ideas for activities!

NUPF Social Committee Co-Chair

Otman Charaf –
NUPF Chicago Women in STEM Initiative Chair

Colleen Zaccard – As a postdoctoral fellow in the Penzes lab, I utilize cutting-edge enhanced resolution microscopy techniques to investigate dynamic microglia-neuron interactions in health and neuropsychiatric disease. My fascination with the immune system began when I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I did not discover my love for imaging, which provides a window into hidden new worlds, until my predoctoral studies in Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh. When I am not imaging, I am probably watching Wisconsin Badgers or GB Packers football. I am also a strong advocate for diversity and gender equity to increase innovation in STEM, where women continue to be under-represented at advanced career stages and in leadership. The goal of NUPF’s recently launched initiative is to facilitate an accelerated path to gender parity by building an inclusive local STEM community. Currently, we are establishing a mentorship network at NU to support the development of tomorrow’s women leaders in STEM-related fields. I encourage you to contact us by emailing joining our volunteers channel on our slack.

NUPF Advisor

Liz Jablonski, Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Training and Development – Liz joined The Graduate School in late 2017. Liz earned her PhD through the Multidisciplinary Doctoral Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with combined training in biology research, bioengineering, biochemistry and biophysics. She then completed two postdoctoral training programs at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago before accepting a position with the American Cancer Society to lead the Research division. Liz spent eight years at the American Cancer Society gaining extensive experience in program development, management, partnership building, and strategic planning. Her most recent position was at the Museum of Science and Industry as the Director of Corporate Giving and Sponsorship where as part of the leadership team she contributed to the development and implementation of a new vision for the future of the Museum’s operations.


NUPF Advisor


Kristen K. Mighty, PhD, MPH, Senior Program Coordinator for Postdoctoral Affairs, joined the OPA as Program Administrator in 2014, following her postdoctoral training at Rush University Medical Center.