Introducing Nisha Cavanaugh!

Nisha Cavanaugh
Nisha Cavanaugh






















In December, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) made a major change! Nisha Cavanaugh became OPA's new director, replacing Rhonda Sutton who decided to re-establish her private counseling practice. The Graduate School and OPA welcome Nisha and would like to introduce her to the rest of campus.

With a mother teaching general and organic chemistry and a father researching in the atmospheric sciences, it was only natural for Nisha to gravitate to math and science early in life. She was involved with science fairs as a kid, loved her sophomore biology course in high school, and started working on research projects, as a high school student in biology labs at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder). Nisha went on to earn her B.A. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry, both degrees from CU-Boulder.

Nisha's interest in postdoctoral affairs came from her own experience as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park. Like many other postdoc fellows, she was unsure what she wanted to do with her Ph.D., but she was certain she wanted to have a direct impact and help people. In January, Nisha was one of the recipients for the 2012 Group National Institutes of Health Merit Award for ". . . raising the awareness of the importance of environmental health sciences." The NIEHS group developed and facilitated a 10-week curriculum on healthy lungs for the Citizen Schools Apprenticeship Project for middle school students.

While serving as Chair of the postdoc association at NIEHS and a member of the National Postdoctoral Association, Nisha learned a great deal about various career options available to Ph.D. scientists and gained an appreciation of the challenges facing postdocs. Consequently, she found a need to advocate for the benefit of the postdocs -- to give them the best opportunities to excel in their fields/careers. At the same time, she desires to educate postdocs about the range of careers a doctoral degree offers.

Now, Nisha's knowledge and experience is translating well to OPA, and she is focusing her efforts in a variety of areas. She hopes to complement the research training already available to postdocs by providing tools and resources for professional development needs; to centralize information pertinent to postdocs from various locations; to advocate for the needs of postdocs to ensure that they have a well-rounded experience at NC State; to create a sense of community among the past, present, and future NC State postdocs; and to collaborate with offices and groups across the NC State campus, the RTP area, and other universities.

Nisha considers her position with OPA will be a success if she is able to ". . . serve each and every postdoc that comes to NC State to the best of my ability and provide a sense of community while they are at NC State University so that fellows will want to give back to NC State and future postdocs and support the next generation of scientists and professionals."

In her spare time, NIsha loves spending time with her family – husband Craig, son Riley, and their dog, Xander – and with her friends. Growing up in Colorado, she developed a love for camping and hiking, especially fourteeners – mountains standing higher than 14,000 ft. However, some of Nisha's most memorable activities come from being an avid runner. She says: "Before becoming a mother, I was addicted to running; I'd run 3-4 times a week and I have completed 4 half-marathons and 2 full marathons."

The Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs are pleased to welcome Nisha to the Wolfpack!

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