Dean’s messages

Archive of Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for the U of T postdoctoral fellows community.

Dear postdoctoral fellows,

September 20th to 24th is the National Postdoctoral Association’s National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Each day this week the postdoctoral services team will share resources and updates in recognition of your many contributions to the University of Toronto. Later this academic year we look forward to meeting you in person at a large celebratory event.

Over the summer, the University of Toronto has worked hard to prepare for a safe and gradual return to campus life. While this is exciting news, I know the circumstances of the ongoing pandemic will continue to cause many in our postdoctoral community to feel some degree of trepidation as the term gets underway.  

With the university requiring proof of vaccination for all students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, staff, and others who plan to be on campus, you may have questions about vaccines, quarantines, and remote learning. To help you prepare, SGS has put together a set of FAQs on vaccine validation, including specific guidelines for postdoctoral fellows who will be working in hospitals. I also recommend taking a look at the UTogether website as well as the latest COVID-19 updates from the Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

The second thing to remember is to check in with your department. Even as the university moves toward in-person instruction and increased research activity, each faculty or academic division will be determining for itself the steps and pace of that process. As you move forward with your planning for the year, please be sure to check with your faculty for the latest updates regarding in-person and remote research and teaching.

Incoming postdoctoral fellows
I’m very pleased that those of you beginning your postdoctoral journey this fall can look forward to getting to know your community in person. On-campus life may not resume in full swing right away, but I hope you will get a sense of the community and camaraderie that make postdoctoral fellowships so rewarding. And with some restrictions having been lifted in Ontario, I’m hopeful that you will be able to explore – with a few modifications and precautions – the vast array of attractions the city has to offer.

Returning postdoctoral fellows
If you are returning to the university after the ups and downs of the past year and a half, the coming semester will be a time of re-orientation. There are new methods and guidelines for conducting research, new opportunities (and challenges) related to professional development, and new rhythms to create for your time and work. To help jumpstart your semester, we’ve put together some FAQs on resuming research, with a number of tips and suggestions for connecting with your supervisor. And SGS’s Looking Ahead page contains a wealth of information on student supports, COVID-19 updates, and much more. (New postdoctoral fellows can also find important information here.)

However you’re feeling, please know that all of us at the School of Graduate Studies and our postdoctoral services staff are here to support you any way we can. From mental health supports to sports medicine to spiritual practice, we have a comprehensive list of wellness resources for you on the Postdoctoral Fellows Portal. And as always, we’ll do our best to give you the flexibility and support you need to make this a fulfilling fall semester.

Finally, it’s important to remember that we haven’t put this pandemic behind us. We will need to stay adaptable as the semester unfolds, and the university will continue to keep a close eye on public health guidelines. The safety of students, staff, and faculty members continues to be U of T’s top priority.

I wish you a happy and rewarding fall semester.



Joshua Barker, PhD
Dean, School of Graduate Studies and
Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education