NOTE: This page is under development.
Post-doctoral Research Highlights
- AI brings new tool to remote monitoring of global reef health (HIMB)
- Building pathways for indigenous lunar science in Hawaiʻi (HIGP)
- Mentorship program supports high school girls’ pursuit of ocean careers (HIMB)
- Mystery of seafloor metamorphosis unlocked (PBRC)
- Early career scientists share research on weekly live streaming show, Science @ SOEST
Who is a Postdoc?
In very general terms, a “postdoc” is anyone who has completed a doctorate degree (Ph.D., Sc.D.) and is continuing to carry out research in a university setting without a tenure track appointment. The term can refer to individuals who are formally employed or to individuals who receive their funds in the form of a stipend from a fellowship or traineeship, which means they are trainees rather than employees. There are significant differences in the two types of compensation, in terms of both benefits available to the postdoc and to the manner in which federal and state taxes are paid. Notably, the position titles applied to postdocs do not always clearly identify which form of appointment it is, thus it is important to clarify this prior to accepting an appointment.
In general, a “Postdoctoral Fellow” or “Postdoctoral Trainee” receives a stipend, and is not an employee. As a trainee or fellowship recipient, the compensation received is NOT directly associated with an hourly wage and no time sheets or record of hours is maintained. In addition, the benefits available to the postdoctoral fellow are generally limited to insurance (most commonly just health insurance) and the premiums are normally paid directly by the individual from their compensation. The compensation is fully taxable as income, but the institution providing the compensation does not withhold taxes as would be done for an employee, nor do Social Security nor Medicare taxes get taken out (and time as a fellow is not credited as employment for Social Security purposes).
Postdoctoral employees are most often classified as “Postdoctoral Researchers” or “Postdoctoral Associates,” but the terminology is not uniform everywhere. Within SOEST, there are true employees of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i (RCUH) with the position title “RCUH Postdoctoral Fellow.” Postdocs who are employees are eligible for a variety of benefits above and beyond health insurance, sometimes including retirement benefits (after 12 months at RCUH). Their pay is treated as normal income, and the paying entity (either UH or RCUH) withholds both federal and state taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes.
To be added to the SOEST postdoc email list, please send an email to postdoc at soest.hawaii.edu.
Changes to Support for Postdocs in SOEST
PowerPoint Presentation on changes to support for postdocs in SOEST, proposed to be implemented for proposals or supplements submitted on or after July 1, 2019. Presented for discussion on 5/22/19 by Sandy Shor and Chris Sabine, and the HR team from RCUH.
While we develop information specific to Hawai‘i residents, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a page with general information, including a PDF of fiscal information for postdocs, some of which is general enough to be applicable to you.
Please note that SOEST can only provide general information and cannot provide you with specific information about your individual tax situation.
Additional tax information for stipend postdocs
- From the University of California San Francisco
- From the Illinois Graduate College
- From the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Dept of Oceanography Postdoctoral Scholar information
Download the 2019 Dept of Oceanography Postdoctoral Scholar orientation presentation as a screen-resolution PDF. In addition to containing information specifically for department members, it contains resources regarding conduction responsible research, UH and SOEST policies on sexual harassment and bullying, and general information about safety in the Islands.
Nature Careers Toolkit
Nature has published an early career researcher’s guide to the working world of science in a new toolkit filled with articles ranging from how to cultivate a resume to how to find funding.
A list of Postdoctoral Scholars and Postdoctoral Fellows
To be added to the SOEST postdoc email list, please send an email to postdocs at soest.hawaii.edu.
If you have suggestions for additional content to this page, please contact Chris Sabine, SOEST Associate Dean for Research.