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New Postdoc Onboarding Checklist

Welcome to Stanford!

The Stanford University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) supports 2,400+ postdoctoral scholars annually. As an office, we know that the contributions of postdoctoral scholars to Stanford and society are far-ranging and profund. They include but are not limited to: producing research, teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists and practitioners, filing patents, and creating software. OPA works to cultivate a sense of belonging and support for all Stanford postdocs. This website and the associated links provide resources, reminders, and suggestions for all Stanford postdocs.

Stanford New Postdoc Pre-Onboarding Checklist/Guide

Prior To Your Arrival at Stanford:

  • Review the Cost of Living in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto/San Jose) and San Francisco Bay Area.
  • If possible, set aside at least one month of living expenses for the Bay Area to support yourself until your first payment is disbursed:
    • Salary is paid twice a month: on the 7th and 22nd.
    • Stipend payments are disbursed at the end of the month.
  • Look for housing.
  • Review Postdoc Benefits policies and options. 
  • The Stanford Moving Services Site is a valuable resource. It is full of guidance and tips that can help with postdocs relocation needs to and from Stanford.
  • Review Stanford and Palo Alto Area websites, which include information about starting at Stanford, postdoc groups, discounts on phone plans and food, local attractions, and more.
  • Plan your commute to campus: Parking & Transportation Services helps plan the best route to campus; obtain your Caltrain Go Passregister your bike; find ride matching services for carpools (or purchase a parking permit). The free Marguerite shuttle provides transportation on campus and to train stations.
  • Know postdoctoral scholar policies

Before Your First Day:

  • You need a SUNetID for email and other services. After getting your ID number from your departmental postdoc administrator, you create your SUNetID.
  • Complete your required Patent and Copyright Agreement (SU‐18) form online:
    • Once you have your SUNet ID, log in to Axess; click the “Patent and Copyright Agreement (SU‐18)” link to review and submit. The link to the SU-18 form is in the lower right corner of the main Axess page under the heading "LEGAL".
    • You can sign and can view your agreement in the "Academics" tab of the Student Services Center.
  • Complete your "Data and Device Attestation".
  • Update your contact information on Axess (REQUIRED)
    • After getting your SUNet ID, log in to Axess and go to the Student Services Center.
    • Select "Personal Information" to update addresses, phone numbers, and the Stanford Directory.
    • Updating contact information allows you to receive communications from university offices (Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, University Payroll, Student Financial Services, etc.).
    • IMPORTANT: Add or update your Mailing address to ensure receipt of tax documents.
    • IMPORTANT: Add or update your Local address for Go Pass eligibility.
    • IMPORTANT: International Scholars: add or update your Permanent Home address to ensure SEVIS compliance.
    • Contact information entered in StanfordYou will be used by the AlertSU emergency notification system in case of emergency.
    • Include the full phone number with area code (e.g., (555) 123-4567).
      • Do not use 5-digit campus extensions.
    • Enter your emergency contact information.
    • Review Associate Vice Provost Russell Furr's email about COVID-19 protocols from May 21, 2020: russell_furr_email_covid.pdf

During Your First Week:

  • Attend a required Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Orientation
    • Your departmental administrator will register you for a benefits orientation. Contact them if you have not received a benefits orientation registration email. Postdoctoral Scholars are required to have medical insurance while at Stanford. Information about plans and enrollment.  (Be sure to enroll in health benefits within 31 days.)
    • Important Note: If you have a medical emergency after your start date but prior to attending a benefits orientation, please follow these instructions and contact Postdoc Benefits with questions.
  • International Scholars Only: Confirm your arrival on the Bechtel International Center Mandatory Confirmation of Arrival at Stanford site no later than the 15 days after the "From" date on the DS-2019 form. Please read the "Limited Validity of the DS-2019" for more details.
  • Obtain your Stanford Postdoc ID Card from Campus Card Services. Bring a picture ID. Courtesy cards for spouses or domestic partners are available at Campus Card Services for a fee.
  • Register to attend the next Designing Your Postdoc and Postdoc Social Events.
  • Set up a bank account if needed. Stanford has several banks on campus.
  • Check STARS for any required trainings or courses.
  • Meet with your Departmental Postdoctoral Administrator/Lab Manager to:
    • Obtain Department/Lab "How To" information
    • Get information and instructions about obtaining and using equipment including phones, pages, computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, office supplies, first aid kits, emergency kits, and how to request equipment, repairs, and supplies. 
    • Learn how to schedule rooms and equipment
    • Obtain safety information and how to report hazards
    • Complete payroll forms (I-9, LA-6, W4...) and provide copies of your documents as required
    • Discuss department/lab email lists and required training
    • Sign up for your lab, department, and other groups or organizations' mailing lists for announcements
  • Verify and add your information to your Community Academic Profiles (CAP)
    • Once in CAP, postdocs are able to access their profiles and add information like research interests, honors and awards, and a photo.
    • CAP is a tremendous opportunity to publicize your research, publications, and academic work to the outside world.
    • School of Medicine:
    • All other Schools:
  • SCHOOL OF MEDICINE POSTDOCS: Complete Health Screening, Safety and Compliance Training for Clinical Research Staff & Postdocs
    • Health Stream Training Instructions and Checklist
      • This applies if you are a SoM (non-faculty) employee or postdoc who: 1. May be assigned duties with potential for occupational health exposures related to clinical research participants, and 2. Performs job duties (including Epic access) within SHC, LPCH, and/or other Stanford affiliated research patient care locations.
      • For more information about this training or to view a training checklist, please visit the Spectrum Website.
      • Questions go to
  • Sign up for Emergency Alerts:
  • Review Earthquake Preparedness Information

Your First Two to Four Weeks:

  • Schedule the required initial Individual Development Plan (IDP) meeting with your appointing faculty member
    • Must be completed within three months of your start date.
  • Sign-up for direct deposit (pay) in AXESS
  • Receive your first paycheck: Salary, Stipend or Outside Support
    • Salary: paid on the 7th and 22nd. View online pay statements in Axess.
    • Stipend: paid on last day of the month. Pay statement is sent to Campus Work address in Axess; no online statements are available.
    • Outside Support: paid at discretion of outside institution.
  • INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARS: Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
    • Postdoctoral scholars are required to have a social security number (SSN) or tax identification number (TIN).
    • If you do not have a number, apply for one here:
    • When you receive your new SSN/TIN, report it to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
      • ** Special Reminder about Protecting Your Social Security Number (SSN) **
          • Never list a SSN publicly.
          • Never send SSNs via electronic format (i.e., email, text, etc.)
          • Never have a computer log in system where a person has to use their SSN
          • Never use SSNs on ID cards
          • Never send SSNs on postcards
          • Never store SSNs on unprotected computer systems
          • Never carry a Social Security Number (SSN) card with you
  • Register for your unique ORCID ID to distinguish you from other researchers and to connect you to research and other researchers.
  • Report your ORCiD here: Reporting helps us track outcomes data for our postdocs, which drives program improvement efforts. 

Months Three to Twelve: