Overview and Purpose
An important part of the postdoc is to develop one's professional network and make connections with other researchers. Regardless of whether these connections result in collaboration or co-authorship, they expand the postdoc's network with researchers outside of the University of Washington and their prior institutions. The purpose of postdoc travel awards is to support the Allen School's postdocs in attending professional conferences or workshops that will help bring them into the broader community and contribute to their preparation for the next steps in their careers.
Policies & Procedures
Travel award policies
- Travel awards are generally not approved for intercontinental travel, except under extraordinary circumstances. Please inquire with the postdoc staff advisor well in advance of committing to an overseas event to understand whether travel award funding might be available.
- Funding is available once per fiscal year (July 1-June 30) and can be used for the postdoc's attendance an in-person or virtual conference. Allen School postdoc travel awards typically function on a reimbursement model, in which the postdoc fronts their expenses and then submits receipts for reimbursement upon return from the conference.
- To be eligible for a travel award, the postdoc must have participated in the most recent Review of Progress cycle (RoP takes place every April and every October).
- Exception: postdocs who are ~5 months or fewer into their appointments and for whom it may be too early to substantively participate in the Review of Progress are exempted.
- Travel awards are meant to support travel that the postdoc's advisor/PI would not normally cover or when funding from the advisor/PI is not available. Generally, if the postdoc has a paper or presentation at a conference then we would anticipate their advisor/PI would cover their travel and participation expenses.
Eligible expenses and planning for the reimbursement process
All receipts must show that payment was made in your name- we cannot reimburse expenses paid by someone else. The very best thing you can do when making payments for your travel is to use a credit or debit card to make all your own purchases, and avoid purchasing upgrades for personal convenience or making any purchases with cash, mobile payments, or rewards.
If actual expenses exceed the amount initially approved, then additional approval is required for the overage. Postdocs are expected to keep within their anticipated/approved expense amounts, but shouldn't go hungry while on the road (or not go at all!). If your anticipated or actual costs increase, please inform Kate and Donna (contact information below) as soon as possible.
Eligible expenses are limited to conference registration, lodging, meals, and transportation (airfare, car rental/gas, etc.).
- Lodging: For domestic travel, if the postdoc is not staying at a hotel contracted by the conference, then reimbursement for lodging is limited to the GSA-specified lodging per diem rate for their destination.
- Meals: Postdocs submit these receipts and are reimbursed for their actual expenses, up to the GSA-specified M&IE total amount for their destination and minus the M&IE amount for any conference-provided meals.
- Transportation and airfare: We can only reimburse economy flights from Seattle (or if working remotely, your work location) to the conference location and back.
- If you are flying to or from a city other than your work location or are taking personal time during your trip (for example, arriving early or staying later than conference dates), then you will be reimbursed for a comparable fare for a direct economy flight around the dates of your conference. The postdoc is responsible for showing comparison airfare and is recommended to gather this at the time they book their travel.
Travel-related expenses not covered by Allen School postdoc travel awards include:
- The dollar value of mileage points/frequent flyer miles (and the points themselves)
- Travel paid by "Uber Cash" or other rewards
- Payments made using Venmo or other mobile payment systems (there is not a substantial audit trail and we are not able to fully verify the expense as having originated from the traveler's personal funds and not accumulated rewards)
- Transportation upgrades such as first or business class seats, Uber/Lyft "priority pickup", Uber Comfort, or similar (as stated on the UW transportation website, "any upgrades purchased for personal convenience are not reimbursable.").
- Other expenses that appear on UW's list of non-reimbursable travel expenses.
Procedure for requesting a travel award
All awards are requested through the Allen School Postdoc Travel Award Request form. The form collects information about the conference and the postdoc's travel, including:
- Name, dates, and location of conference
- 1-2 paragraphs describing the conference and its benefit to the postdoc's career, including how it will create opportunities for meeting other researchers.
- Dates of travel
- Amount of funding being contributed by the postdoc's advisor/PI. If the advisor/PI is not providing any funding, an explanation of why the postdoc's advisor/PI is not funding the travel or why funding from the advisor/PI is unavailable
- Estimated costs of registration, transportation, lodging, and other expenses.
Requests are reviewed by the faculty postdoctoral program coordinator. If a postdoc's request is approved, then they will be notified by email and may proceed with booking their travel and no further action is needed until they return and are preparing to request reimbursement. Travel award recipients are strongly recommended to review UW's list of non-reimbursable expenses prior to purchasing travel.
Getting ready for the conference
Even if you have have attended academic conferences in the past, we still strongly recommend reviewing the following documents. These documents contain advice on how to maximize your time at the conference, including some of the basics (e.g., asking questions during talks, attending poster sessions and banquets) and how to network, as well as offering detailed advice that even experienced researchers will find useful.
- From Allen School professor Michael Ernst, Attending an Academic Conference
- From Allen School PhD alumna Tessa Lau, How to Attend an Academic Conference
- From Allen School PhD alumnus Maarten Sap, Presenting Your Research
- From the UW Graduate School's Office of Core Programs, a series of Mentor Memos written by faculty from around UW:
After the conference
Prepare trip report and request reimbursement
Trip report: Upon your return from the conference, please prepare a short report (1-2 paragraphs in length) that describes your activities during the conference, how attending contributed to your professional development, and some key takeaways (such as new ideas, connections made, or new skills acquired). Email your report to Kate Gayle, the postdoc program adviser, at kjgayle [at] cs.washington.edu.
Request reimbursement: Compile your receipts showing proof of payment. All meal receipts should be in one PDF document; airfare, transportation, lodging, and registration can be separate files. Send receipts to Donna Cheung, Fiscal Specialist 2, at cheund [at] cs.washington.edu and copy Kate Gayle.
- If your actual expenses exceed the approved amount, include in the body of your email a request for additional reimbursement and the reason for having gone over the total approved amount. Reimbursement will be reviewed and approved at the discretion of the Allen School's Director of Finance.