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Volume 8, Issue 4: Autumn 2018

Volume 8, Issue 4 is now available.


  • Congress passes spending bill increasing NIH budget
  • Transition to a foreign country: The International Postdoc
  • Meet the new BPC Co-President, Jason Goldsmith
  • BPC Spotlight Cafe Highlights
  • Announcements
  • Autumn events in Philly



Volume 8, Issue 3

Happy Summer Postdocs!

Volume 8, issue 3 is now available.

Inside this issue:

  • A Dire High: Philadelphia on the front lines of the Opioid epidemic

The city’s battle to be the first in the US with a safe injection facility: page 2

  • Health, Insurance and the Postdoc at Penn

Navigating your options: page 4

  • Meet the BPC’s New Co – President: Maxime Jacquet

His plans for the Biomedical Postdoc Council: page 6

  • Summer Events in The City

Stay cool; check out what’s hot: page 7

Check out the Issue Here: Issue 8, Volume 3


Volume 8, Issue 2 – May 2018

Happy spring, postdocs!

Volume 8, issue 2 is now available, compliments of our new writers.

Content in this newsletter:

  • BPP-sponsored grant-writing workshops
  • Fellowship opportunities for international postdocs
  • Brain Food: science night at Reading Terminal Market

Check it out here!

A Special Edition: Coverage and Updates on the Immigration Ban

In this special edition, we discuss the impact and implications of the Executive Order on Immigration issued on January 27th 2017. A revised version of the order was issued by President Trump on March 6th 2017 that restricted the travel of immigrants and non-immigrants to the U.S. from six-countries. As of yesterday, March 15th 2017, Federal Judge Watson issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Trump Administration’s revised travel ban from taking effect today.

       Here we give you a glimpse of the direct impact on our community and implications for universities, academic exchange programs, and research faculties as well as larger issues of international conventions, constitutional law, values, and norms. The content and views in this newsletter by various writers and commenters are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Pennsylvania in its entirety. The stories and survey summaries are published unedited and each surveyor has commented on his/her personal capacity.

 Here is the complete Special Edition: Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.40.58 AM.png

This edition includes:

Executive Authority: What is it?

President Trump Immigration Ban 101:

How does the Ban affect our Scientific Community? 

-Rabe’e Cheheltani’s Story:

-A Survey:

-Personal Stories:

How To Talk To Your Friends And Family About The Immigration Ban:

List of Resources at University of Pennsylvania:

Please do visit for additional information or if you have any comments. The weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, or strategies of University of Pennsylvania. This forum is open to all members of the University of Pennsylvania and affiliated universities as well as scientific communities in and around Pennsylvania.


Nehal R. Solanki Patel

Editor-in-Chief, Biomedical Postdoctoral Council (BPC) Newsletter

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Executive Authority: What is it?

By Nehal R. Solanki-Patel

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”  

Article II of the Constitution and under section 212(f) of the 65-year-old provision of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) a and 8 U.S.C. 1182(f).

Executive orders are as old as the U.S. Constitution itself. In the past most orders have stemmed from acting Presidents’ desire to bypass Congress. Executive orders are intended to be rules clarifying how executive agencies ought to carry out Constitutional laws; however, they have been controversial in public opinion because they have allowed Presidents to make major decisions, even issue new laws, without Congressional consent in the past. It is also often condemned as it runs against the general logic of the Constitution— no one should have power to act unilaterally. If the order exceeds the bounds of Congressional law, the Congress has two options:

  1. Re-write or amend a previous law (the President has the right to veto the amendment).
  2. Orders can be challenged in federal court with the ground that it deviates from “Congressional Intent”.


According to State Laws, state governors, i.e. executive of their states, can also issue executive orders. For example, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Utah have issued executive state orders in the past.

Did you know Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3728 executive orders in his 12 years in office? Woodrow Wilson with 1803 orders from 1913-1921. Next, Calvin Coolidge issued 1203 executive orders in his 5 years in the office. Here is a list of Presidents who have used authority to make changes in the History of Executive Orders:Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.55.13 AM.png

President Trump Immigration Ban 101

By Nehal R. Solanki Patel

On January 27th, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order 13769 under the authority granted by Article II of the constitution and under Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” No visas were issued for 90-days to migrants or visitors from seven majority Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Section 1 of the order states that it is a policy the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals.

       Executive Order 13769 went into effect immediately, reportedly without thorough vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. Many people who were in transit to the United States had their approved visas rejected at their departing airport or were detained by the TSA upon arrival. Many scientists were affected during this initial period, including several working here in Philadelphia (see,, and Numerous federal court cases were filed to challenge the order’s legality, and on February 3rd, 2017 a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide restraining order stopping the order’s effects.

       On March 6th, 2017 President Trump signed a new Executive Order, 13780, which updated the Executive Order 13769. The new immigration order was scheduled to take effect after a 10-day delay on March 16th. The new order made several changes to the original travel ban, including the following:

  • Removes Iraq from the list of effected countries, leaving Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Visa holders are no longer affected.
  • Syrian refugees are barred temporarily.
  • Refugees already granted asylum will be allowed.
  • References to support for the US Constitution and other beliefs removed. Details added about why the six countries were selected (see p.7).
  • Specifies that it does not affect foreign nationals with valid visas and refugees whose travel had already been scheduled with the State Department.
  • Authorizes consular officials to waive the travel restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.51.59 AM.png

         The new executive order restarts the 90-day suspension of entry for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Several legal challenges are currently being organized to the new executive order including a temporary restraining order blocking Trump Administration’s revised travel ban from taking effect on March 16th 2017.

The following descriptions were issued:

Iran. Has been designated as concerned country for terrorism since 1984 and continues to support various groups, including Hizballah and Hamas. Iran has also been linked to al-Qa’ida and has not cooperated with the United States in counter-terrorism efforts.

Libya. Is an active combat zone, and has several hostilities between the internationally recognized government and its rivals. The United States Embassy in Libya suspended its operation in 2014.

Somalia. Has been a safe haven for terrorists. Al-Shaba’ab has operated in Somalia for several years and Somali government has cooperated with United States in the past, however, they do not have the capacity to investigate suspected terrorists.

Sudan. Has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism because of the support it has provided to Hizballah and Hamas since 1993. Sudan cooperates with the United States.

Syria. Has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. Although Syrian government is actively in conflict with ISIS, they support other terrorist organizations. Syria does not support United States counter-terrorism efforts.

Yemen. Has been exploited by Al-Qa’ida and ISIS. Yemen has been under several attacks and has served as a porous border to smuggle weapons to al-Qa’ida. Yemen has been supportive of the counterterrorism efforts by the United States.

      Besides causing the chaos in airports around the United States (see next page), President Trump’s immigration ban has created a lot of commotion in the scientific community. We held a survey (p. 10 and p.15) to hear from our research and medical community in the Philadelphia area in the month of February when the 90-day travel ban was first placed. Rabe’ (p. 9) and Fatemeh were able to comment on their personal stories and how they were impacted by the ban. The survey was conducted prior to the issue of the revised executive order (13780). However, as it stands, the new order will likely create significant difficulties for several BPP postdocs, as well as other scientists in Philadelphia (see We also have a list of resources for you (p.22) along with an informative article on “How to talk to your Friends and Family about the Immigration Ban” by Sean McClory (p.18).

Rabe’e Cheheltani’s Story

Rabe’e moved from Iran to complete her PhD at Temple University before moving to Penn as a Postdoctoral Fellow. At Penn, Rabe’e worked in the department of Radiology developing gold nanoparticles for use in medical imaging and therapy. Gold increases the absorption of radiation in tissue, and so can be used to improve radiation therapy for cancer. Rabe’e developed a method to encapsulate gold in nanoparticles made from a biodegradable polymer, so these nanoparticles can be degraded and excreted after the radiation treatment. During her postdoc, Rabe’e was heavily involved in the Penn community and served as the Co-President of the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council. She now works as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group.

Rabe’e has worked in the US for over seven years and recently became a permanent US resident (green card holder). The US only approves green cards for select immigrants, and Rabe’e was able to apply as being an advanced degree holder demonstrating exceptional ability in science. She would like non-immigrants to understand how painstaking the visa application process is for Iranian nationals. Iran does not have a US embassy, so visa applicants must first travel to another country to begin the application process. Visa approval –including student and tourist visas- often takes months for Iranian nationals, during which time the US State department conducts in-person interviews and background checks, . While Rabe’e’s own work has not been disrupted due to the executive order (the rule was initially applied to permanent residents, but the Department of Homeland Security reversed this position) she does have friends who have experienced problems, including being unable to start a new job.

Interviewer and writer: Sean McClory