Stars of Stanford Medicine

Shannon Monahan


Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Stanford University

Shannon Monahan won an Inspiring Change Leadership Award for her dedication to continuous improvement in the systems and processes that support postdoctoral training at Stanford University.

When she joined the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in March 2006, postdoctoral scholars were appointed through a laborious paper-based process. Monahan served as the technical lead in designing an online platform that streamlined the appointment processes and enabled the collection of data that could be used to understand the postdoctoral experience at Stanford. Since that time, she has continuously advocated for improvements to the myriad systems that impact postdoctoral administration. For example, she pushed for a policy change that allowed postdoctoral registration fees to be automatically charged to applicable projects. This saved hundreds of hours of administrative work each year over all the schools and eliminated the surprise collection notices delivered to postdocs who were unaware of the erroneous bills. She also helped guide the redesign of the graduate financial system, a platform which now features a separate module for paying postdocs.

Shannon Monahan was instrumental in the establishment of a hardship fund for postdoctoral scholars, which covers expenses such as housing and child care for postdocs.


“Monahan’s analytical talents, attention to detail, understanding of arcane systems and ability to work with a wide range of people have made her an immeasurably effective change agent,” said Sofie Kleppner, PhD, associate dean for postdoctoral affairs.

“My goal has always been to put myself out of a job by automating things,” said Monahan. “If I can get systems to a point where my colleagues can access the data that they need anytime and anywhere, that’d be terrific.”

She was also instrumental in the establishment and administration of a hardship fund for postdoctoral scholars, which covers expenses such as housing and child care for postdocs. Her analyses were invaluable in modeling the impact of the recent increase in the minimum postdoctoral salary to $60,000, as was recently announced by the provost.

“Through her outstanding ability and remarkable dedication, Shannon has generated and analyzed the data supporting the efforts of university leadership and the faculty to provide the best possible environment for postdoctoral training,” said Will Talbot, PhD, senior associate dean for graduate education and postdoctoral affairs. “Her deep knowledge and thoughtful approach have been recognized by the National Science Foundation, which has consulted with her on its surveys and panel discussions.”

“In an institution that values data, information, continuous improvement and collaboration, Monahan sets a unique and powerful standard,” Kleppner said.

Monahan attributes her success, at least in part, to the work ethic that her parents instilled in her while growing up on the Jersey Shore. She plans to use the award money for a trip to Ireland to visit her ancestral homeland and meet a few long-lost relatives.