July 8, 2020

July 2020 News

RESEARCH RAMP-UP: USC research under COVID-19 is now in Phase 2 (2A3, for 30% occupancy/density); campus access is open to all researchers who cannot do research remotely, as long as they school-approved PI/lab/group-level plans and their schools have University-approved school-level plans.  For details, see our Research Ramp-Up website:  https://research.usc.edu/covid19-rampup/ A University-wide Phase 3 plan is under final development and expected soon.

RESEARCH INTEGRITY:  The COVID-19 pandemic is raising new and challenging ethical issues for researchers. If you have questions regarding research or clinical ethics or bioethics, please contact the USC Office of Research Integrity.

Training Workshops & Mentoring: We are accepting proposals through July 24 for our Center of Excellence in Research (CER) workshops for Fall 2020; we’d love to hear from you. All workshops are held via Zoom. In July, they include Advancing Research Integrity in Research Labs and an SBIR NIH Grants webinar. Please register here.

Connecting: Looking for COVID-19 collaborators? Please join the Office of Research Slack Channel (#covid-talk).

End-of-Summer Forums: We plan to hold two all-inclusive researcher forums in late August, one on “Navigating Research at USC” (broad topics, open to all and necessary for new faculty), and “USC Research Under COVID-19″ (focused on special practices and policies under COVID-19, open to all).  More information will follow next month.

You can view the full Office of Research Monthly Update for June here

Need additional info on Project Restart planning guidelines, health alerts, required training, and procedures for returning to campus, workplace guidance, and PPE? Please visit USC Environmental Health and Safety Resource Site


USC Postdoctoral Scholar Emergency Funds

The Office of the Provost has committed funds to support postdoctoral scholars who experience a financial emergency or difficulty from unanticipated expenses due to COVID-19. These awards are not loans and do not need to be repaid. If you would like to apply, please visit: https://forms.usc.edu/employee-support-fund-application/

To be eligible for the program, you must have a current appointment as:

  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellowship Trainee
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Visiting Fellow



Work from Home Stipends
USC is implementing a $53/month COVID19 technology stipend for postdocs who are working from home. It is to cover a reasonable percentage of the cell phone,
internet and other technology expenses that may be generated by working from home during the pandemic.

Please contact your department administrator
Please contact Dan Carino , Director of Postdoc Affairs, dcarino@usc.edu

Mentor Training Opportunity for Postdocs
If you are interested in expanding on your professional/skill development, consider mentor training. Mentor training is extremely useful when providing hands on and instructional guidance to trainees in the lab. The training is an interactive and self paced program offered online by the University of Minnesota https://www.ctsi.umn.edu/education and training/mentoring/mentor training On the site, you will find three mentoring modules available. We encourage you to complete the CTS 100 and CTS 101 modules (approximately 3 hours). If you work with undergraduates or anticipate doing so in the future, the CTS 102 should be added to your list.

To access the training program, you need only to register an external user, https://www.ctsi.umn.edu/sites/ctsi.umn.edu/files/mentoring_modules_registration_guide_2019_external.pdf ).

Once logged into the site, enroll in the courses and launch the session. Upon completion of each module, you will receive a certificate for your records which will give documentation of mentor training that can be included on your CV.

CTS 100

Enhancing Motivation Using the CARES Mentoring Model

(Online, self paced, ~75 minute completion time).

Motivation is a key driver of student and employee engagement, persistence, satisfaction, and performance. This course describes an approach to mentoring that focuses on fulfilling the core psychological needs that enhance a mentee’s motivation. Targeted to faculty who are mentoring students, fellows, or other faculty in academic settings, including research training programs.

CTS 101

Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring 101: For Research Mentors of Graduate Students, Fellows, and Early Career Faculty

(Online, self paced, ~2 hour completion time).

This course is designed to help faculty members or other experienced scientists become more effective research mentors for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty. Learners are introduced to different mentoring models, roles that research mentors play in their mentees’ development, strategies for building effective relationships with mentees, and application of these strategies to common mentoring scenarios.

CTS 102

Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring 102: For Research Mentors of Undergraduate Students

(Online, self paced, ~2 hour completion time).

This course is designed to help faculty members or other experienced scientists become more effective research mentors for undergraduate students. Learners are introduced to different mentoring models, roles that research mentors play in their mentees’ development, strategies for building effective relationships with mentees, and application of these strategies to common mentoring scenarios.



We’re now accepting applications from graduating students (must have completed all coursework by September 14th in order to participate full time) for our fall sessions.

*While Fellows can attend the program from anywhere, they will still interview for roles in their chosen program location. All eligibility criteria still apply. Visit our FAQ page for more information.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to have an impact around the world, Insight has made the decision to run our fall programs remotely, in both the U.S. and Canada. We’ve made this decision to protect our Fellows and team, and because we’ve seen that the vast majority of the benefits of Insight translate to the remote experience, and there are actually many additional benefits.

Apply to our fully-remote fall session by July 20: https://apply.insightdatascience.com


What is Insight?

The Insight Fellows Program is a seven-week professional training fellowship for graduating students and working professionals looking to transition to thriving careers as data scientists, engineers, and other cutting-edge professionals. Insight takes a unique approach, working closely with partner companies to match Fellows with the hiring teams that represent the best fit for their skills and experience.

Scholarships Available

Our goal is to make sure that everyone with the right skills can participate in Insight regardless of financial challenges. We offer several scholarships (including need-based and scholarships for underrepresented groups in tech) to help reduce the barriers keeping you from participating in Insight’s programs and taking those first steps to launch your thriving career. Learn more about available scholarships.

Gain a Network

Since 2012, Insight has helped over 3,000 Fellows transition to thriving careers in a variety of data and tech fields. By joining the Fellowship, you’re also joining an extensive community of industry leaders, and gaining connections to thousands of data and tech professionals from hundreds of companies. This is an investment in your future that pays dividends for years to come.

Getting Hired

88% of Insight Fellows accept a job offer in their chosen field within 6 months of finishing the Fellows Program, and the median time to hire is 8 weeks.

Starting Salary

The average starting base salary for Insight Fellows across all our locations is $126,000. The average bonus is $12,000, and almost all Fellows receive either equity or stock grants. The average stock grant for publicly-traded companies is $26,000 per year.

Hiring Companies

Insight alumni are now working at Facebook, LinkedIn, The New York Times, Apple, Airbnb, Netflix, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, CVS Health, 23andMe, Bloomberg, NBC, Bosch, American Express, Microsoft, and 700+ other top companies.

Post-Program Experience

Beyond the seven-week program, Insight Fellows get access to a structured, highly-personalized post-program experience. This personalized post-program experience that we introduced as of Summer 2020, helps Insight Fellows get jobs 40% faster and earn $10,000-15,000/year more than the results quoted above.

Available Programs:

– Artificial Intelligence

– Data Engineering

– DevOps Engineering

– Decentralized Consensus

– Security

– Data Science*

– Health Data Science*

*Please note that our programs are open to all degree levels, except our Data Science and Health programs, which have a PhD requirement.


Sessions will take place remotely, but Fellows will interview for jobs in the following cities:

-San Francisco

-New York




-Los Angeles





-Washington DC

Upcoming Deadline & Start Date:

– Next application deadline: July 20

– Session begins: September 14

Want to learn more about Insight and our programs? Visit: https://www.insightfellows.com

Not ready to apply? Sign up for our notification list: https://notify.insightdatascience.com/notify

Questions? Email us at info@insightdatascience.com


The Postdoctoral Networking Tour in Artificial Intelligence

You are a postdoctoral researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and you want to connect with Germany’s leading research groups?
The Postdoc-NeT-AI offers you the opportunity to participate in one week of on-site visits to leading universities, research institutes and companies; including in depth discussions and networking opportunities. Apply now to this year’s tour until
16 August 2020 (midnight CET).
Here you can find the program of the 11/2020 Tour.
Applicants should have:
• an outstanding scientific track record with a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning (preferably connected to one of the research areas of the host institutions);
• obtained a PhD/doctorate before the tour but no longer than 5 years ago (exceptions can only be made if justified by outstanding achievements);
• not been living in Germany or affiliated with a German institution within the previous 12 months;
• drive, determination and a willingness to play a role in shaping the future.

We provide:
• coverage of all programme-related costs in Germany (accommodation, domestic travel, most meals);
• a lump sum travel allowance (based on country of origin) if such costs are not covered by a third party;
• the opportunity to combine the tour participation with additional networking activities in Germany – and guidance in identifying relevant contacts.

For more information on the project and application please visit us at daad.de/ainet.

If you have any questions, please contact us at ainet@daad.de.

Ad: Call_Postdoc-NeT-AI_11_2020

Program: Program_Postdoc-NeT-AI_11_2020

QBIO 401 – Introduction to Computational Analysis of Biological Data

The Quantitative and Computational Biology ( section is offering a 4 ‐unit course QBIO 401 titled Introduction to Computational Analysis of Biological Data This course goes over six weeks starting May 20 2020 and meets daily M Th from 2 00 pm 4 05 pm This project based course is intended for students who are interested in computational biology The course will integrate the biology, computer science, and statistics training in the QBIO major We will do this by analyzing genomic datasets Students will be introduced to

  • The general programming language Python
  • The statistical programming language R (No prior knowledge of either language is required

Students will use these languages when doing one to two computing assignments per week and an end of the semester project There will be an emphasis on writing original code and not just using off the shelf
programs In both the weekly assignments and the end of the semester project, students will “get their hands dirty” by analyzing genomic datasets The assignments and project will be based on topics covered in lecture Topics will include gene prediction, sequence alignment, phylogenetic trees, next generation sequencing, meta genomics, population genetics, structural biology, systems biology, and machine learning

This course is eligible for the Postdoc Tuition Remission program: https://postdocs.usc.edu/scholars/career development/tuition remission/

Postdocs and grad students welcome!
For more information, please contact: Postdocs Dan Carino , dcarino@usc.edu


Cellular, Molecular, and Computational Tools for Insights and Analysis for Stem Cell Research

A discussion based group that focuses on relevant topics to the research and interests of the center with an applied learning component (programming lab) so that individuals can broaden their understanding and knowledge of intellectual and applied aspects of work discussed The programming aspect with cover specific tools analyses every other week During the “off weeks”weeks”(odd numbered weeks) a general introductory to programming series will be held to teach members of the center who desire to gain or strengthen computational skills.

Register at https :://tinyurl com/USCStemCell journal coding
Join Zoom Meeting at https :://usc zoom us/j/ 913477250 (Meeting ID 913 477 250 Password 052629)



The Keck Postdoctoral Advisory Committee (KPAC) and the USC Postdoctoral Association held a Q&A session with Joseph Elias (Director, Faculty/Staff Visa Services), Brett Wobbe (International Student and Scholar Advisor, Office of International Services), Dan Carino (Senior Manager for Postdoctoral Affairs, Office of the Provost), and Peggy Farnham (Vice Dean, Health and Biomedical Science Education) on July 2nd.

A recording of the Q&A session is available on Zoom (to access the recording you will be required to register for the webinar): https://usc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8dodOkI2SceIW7L7DXekiQ

Q&A Session for Postdocs


Joseph Elias – Director, Faculty/Staff Visa Services (H1B visa inquiries)

Brett Wobbe – International Student and Scholar Advisor, Office of International Services (J1 visa inquiries)

Dan Carino – Senior Manager for Postdoctoral Affairs, Office of the Provost

Peggy Farnham – Vice Dean, Health and Biomedical Science Education


General Visa Questions

  1. What are the current timeframe and restrictions required to renew a visa? When should the renewal be initiated?


If the visa stays (distinct from the visa stamp obtained at a U.S. consulate/embassy abroad) is renewed within the US, the renewal is easy to manage. Visa status is maintained by ensuring that that the DS-2019 is valid at all times; this may require an extension, which takes OIS up to 10 business days to process. The visa stamp (the blue sticker placed in the passport, used for admission to the country) can only be renewed outside the U.S. The visa stamp can expire at any time once the EV has entered without a problem. Visa status must be valid/unexpired at all times. If the EV travels abroad, at that point, a valid visa stamp is required to re-enter the U.S. If there is no intention of departing the U.S., having an expired visa stamp has no consequences. You can renew the DS-2019 anytime before the end date. This may be done far in advance of the actual end date as long as your supervisor agrees to it.

Please visit the Office of International Studies website for more information (https://ois.usc.edu/j1-scholars/current-scholars/extensions/).

It is not recommended to start a renewal outside of the US under the current pandemic, since most renewals/applications are on-hold. If you are abroad, please visit the OIS website (https://ois.usc.edu/covid-19-updates-for-international-students-and-scholars/) for the most up-to-date information and contact the OIS if you have questions.


Please visit the Faculty/Staff Visa services website (https://visaservices.usc.edu/) and info for the recent executive order (https://visaservices.usc.edu/executive-order-suspends-entry-into-the-us-of-h-1b-h-2b-j-and-l-workers-until-december-31-2020-limited-impact-on-usc-faculty-and-staff-petitions/).

Clearance times for foreign residence waivers for J1 has significantly slowed down, however the clearance time is faster for those working on COVID-19 related research.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, it is difficult to visit the US consulate in other countries. H1B visa holders who are participating in COVID-19 care and/or research may experience an easier time in visiting the consulates. The timeframe to get H1B has remained the same, despite the executive order. Typically processing times are between 12-16 weeks. Furthermore, immigration services is still offering premium services in which case immigration services will offer a decision on the H1B application within 15 calendar days. It is strongly recommended to begin the application as soon as possible.

It is important note that there is a 30 day grace period for J1 visa holders. During this grace period, you can remain in the US however you cannot work until your new visa has been issued.


  1. Does the recent executive order affect the ability of visa holders to transition to other visa categories (J1 to H1B, etc)?


No, visa application times remain the same. However, process times for foreign residence waivers for J1s are significantly slower. Premium processing is currently available.


Please contact the OIS and FSVS early when considering transitioning to make sure that the proper sequencing of changes in visa status is handled properly.


  1. Due to the coronavirus, expedited services to process certain visas (H1B) have been removed. How do you manage the gap between the start date of the contract and having a valid visa?



Premium processing is currently available.

It is important note that there is a 30 day grace period for J1 visa holders. During this grace period, you can remain in the US however you cannot work until your new visa has been issued.

Please visit the FSVS website (https://visaservices.usc.edu/) or contact FSVS for more information.


  1. Would there be any issues for holders of a valid J1/H1B/TN1 visa to leave and re-enter the US with the current restrictions on the border?


Brett & Joseph

We strongly recommend against leaving and re-entering the country due to the fluidity of the travel restrictions.

Please see the CDC site for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html.


  1. In light of the recent executive order, will USC continue to support new workers applying for H1B1, H1B, TN1, and J1 visas?


Yes, business as usual. However, processing J1 waivers will present as a significant slow down.


USC J1 visa holders are not strongly affected by the current executive order. There are several restrictions, please see the OIS website (ois.usc.edu) for more information.


Questions from audience


  1. Does USC consider pregnant post-docs as a vulnerable population and are there any policies regarding on-campus work for them?


We recommend that you consult your supervisor and work together with them to formulate a policy and plan to handle the specific situation. If a conclusion cannot be reached, we recommend that you elevate the issue to your mentoring committee and/or the department chair. If a satisfactory solution is still not found, then contact the Health and Biomedical Science Education office who will work with you on this issue.


The USC Office of the Ombuds provides a safe-space to talk about potential issues and concerns. Please visit https://www.provost.usc.edu/office-of-the-ombuds/.


  1. Is there a way to expedite changing the status from J1 to F1?


With the current pandemic, it will likely take anywhere from 2-6 months. We recommend that you postpone the change of status if possible.


  1. What do you recommend for postdocs who have their DS2019 and are planning on entering the country on a J1?

Brett & Joseph

As long as they have a visa without a travel ban, they can still be admitted. But travel restrictions are fluid. If you have a visa but no stamp, we recommend to postpone due to ongoing issues.


  1. Does an amended start date (new DS-2019) need to be stamped again by a consular officer?


Technically, the endorsement from the consular/immigration officer on the DS-2019’s bottom left-hand corner is inconsequential; if endorsed during the visa appointment, but a subsequent DS-2019 is issued (amended, extended, etc.), the EV is not expected to revisit the embassy/consulate just to have the newest form annotated. Moreover, if program dates are amended, the previously issued J-1 visa stamp (with the same SEVIS ID) does not need to be updated, so long as it’s unexpired at the time of entry to the U.S.


  1. What are the rules for working remotely from a different country in the case that I can’t return to the US due to embassies being closed? Will USC terminate my contract?


OIS is not shortening or terminating SEVIS records; please remain attentive to your program end date listed on the DS-2019; as of this webinar, if your SEVIS program is active, we will not shorten your program unless requested to do so by you or your department; if DOS issues guidance on remote work, OIS will notify all EVs/departments; please note that there may be labor law/HR implications outside the OIS purview; we recommend consulting with your department too


For H1B visas, working remotely is complicated due to foreign work policy. This will need to be handled on a case-by-case basis.


Please start contacting your department ahead of time. Be sure to contact either OIS or FSVS as needed.


  1. Postdoc with a J1 visa is expiring at the end of August. Does this postdoc have enough time to extend their DS-2019 by the August deadline?


Yes. We recommend submitting as soon as possible. 10 business days are required for processing.