Getting Started

Initial Lab Training

All students, faculty, and staff employed at the Huck Institutes must complete an initial laboratory safety training. Federal law prohibits personnel working in labs without proper safety training.

Postdoc Orientation

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs holds orientations for new postdocs, several times throughout the year. The orientations provide necessary information for your better living at Penn State, from research ethics to visas. Shortly after your appointment begins, you should receive an email informing you of the next orientation. For Penn State's official policies regarding postdocs' obligations, rights, and benefits, visit the OHR page. For more useful information, check out the links on the Penn State Postdoctoral Society's Resources page.

Preparation for Arriving at Penn State

Please visit the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for help preparing for your trip and settling down after your arrival. Global Connections also provides useful information about special requirements and resources available for international postdocs coming to Penn State.

E-mail Lists

1. The OPA_TO_POSTDOCS email list is the official email communication for postdoctoral scholars and fellows from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA). All postdocs on the University Park Penn State campus are automatically added to this list upon arrival, though there is a lag time as it goes through the system. If you have any questions about the list, you may email the OPA at

2. The L-PSPS email list is the official email communication channel for the Penn State Postdoctoral Society and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA). The PSPS Executive Council and staff of the OPA use the list to inform Penn State postdocs of PSPS and OPA activities, as well as other matters that relate to the needs and concerns of postdocs. All postdocs on the University Park Penn State campus are automatically added to the L-PSPS list upon arrival. If you have any questions regarding the list, or are unable to unsubscribe using the above technique, you may email the OPA at

3. L-POST-DOC-COMMUNITY This mailing list is for use by all postdocs at all campuses. Any postdoc can post to this list, to communicate with the entire postdoc community. Postdocs are automatically subscribed to it by human resources. To email the list, send an email to You can remove yourself from this list by sending a blank email to:


Your department will set the guidelines regarding the issuance of keys. You are solely responsible for your keys. There is a fee for all replacement keys. Please remember to keep your office locked at all times when you are away.

U.S. Bank Account

Your paycheck will be deposited directly into your U.S. checking or savings account on the last working day of the month. You will need to complete a salary deposit form (see your departmental contact person) and attach either a voided check (a blank, unsigned check with checking account number on it and “VOID” written on it) or a savings deposit slip to the salary deposit form. Please return this paperwork to your departmental contact person.

The Penn State Federal Credit Union has an office located in suite 102 of the HUB-Robeson Center. You may open a checking and/or savings account at this location. You must have a social security number to open an account. Alternatively, there is a PNC customer service center in suite 103 of the HUB-Robeson Center. Your Penn State ID+ card can be used at a PNC ATM card if you sign up for the service. There are several Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) on campus representing several different banks. These ATMs are located on the lower level of the HUB-Robeson Center. You can get an ATM card when opening a checking and/or saving account.

Computer Account

You may request an Access Account from the Information Technology Services account office (ITS). The user ID and password assigned to you will enable you to connect to the ITS information server in order to use electronic mail and Internet services. You will need to complete an Access Account Application form to obtain this computer account. Please see your departmental contact person to obtain the Access Account Application form.

After your application has been approved by your department, you may forward the completed form to the Computer Accounts Office at 230 Computer Building. To obtain your Access Account user ID and password, please allow three business days for processing. You may then present your photo ID to ITS staff at the Computer Accounts office located at 230 Computer Building.

Your department may also require you to obtain a departmental computer account. Please see your departmental contact person for more information regarding this.

Payroll Paperwork/Taxes

If you are receiving funding from Penn State, you will need to complete an Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate W-4 form (obtain from your departmental contact person). This must be completed even if you qualify for certain tax exemptions. You will also need to obtain a social security card. The Social Security Office is located at 901 University Drive, Suite 2, telephone (814-238-5035).

Because of the complexity of U.S. tax laws and because these laws vary from one individual to another, please see the following IRS web site.


You may also contact the Penn State Payroll Office at (814-865-7621) or see their web site . Feel free to contact the Payroll Office (814-865-7621) for further information regarding taxes. If you qualify for certain tax exemptions, please stop by the Penn State Payroll Office located at 307 Rider Building, 120 South Burrowes Street.

Penn State Identification Card

This is also your Library Card.

To obtain your Penn State ID Plus Card, your departmental contact person will give you an application form. You must take this form to the ID Plus Office located at 103 HUB-Robeson Center. Please take a photo ID (passport or driver’s license) with you. Your photograph will be taken and placed on this card along with an ID number.

You may use this card to check books out of the University Libraries. The main University Libraries are called Pattee Library and Paterno Library. Please see your campus map for exact locations. Individual departments also may have their own libraries. Please see your departmental contact person for more information on departmental libraries.

This card also can be used for identification purposes at the University. For example, you can present this card when using the University gym facilities. You may also link your identification card with your bank account; see for further information.

Health Insurance

If you are a postdoctoral scholar/fellow, you can enroll in the University’s health insurance program regardless of whether or not you are receiving funding from Penn State. The health insurance premiums will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. The premiums offered through the University are at a much lower rate than what you would pay outside of Penn State.

Most postdoctoral scholars/fellows find that the insurance offered at Penn State is sufficient coverage for themselves and their eligible spouses/children. It is also the least expensive.

Your departmental contact person will provide you with the information necessary to enroll in benefits. You will be eligible for benefits provided that you enroll within 31 days of your first day of employment. Several weeks after you have enrolled, you should receive an insurance card in the mail. If you do not receive this card within four weeks of enrolling, please contact Employee Benefits (814-865-1473).

Monthly cost of your benefits will be automatically deducted from your paycheck unless you have an adjunct appointment. If you have an adjunct appointment, you will need to pay for your insurance in full at the time your adjunct appointment is processed.

Click here for more complete information about postdoc benefits.



For information on obtaining a Pennsylvania Driver’s License, please contact the PA Department of Transportation in Pleasant Gap, PA (814-355-6033). Licensing/Notary services are available at Tri-County Tag Service located at 1376 East College Avenue (814-237-2957).

If you own a vehicle, you will need to obtain a parking permit to park it on campus. If you are a postdoctoral scholar or a visiting faculty member, you will need to go to the Parking Office in the Eisenhower Parking Deck. Visiting faculty members may go to the Facilities Office in 510 Thomas Building to obtain a parking pass. You will need to have your driver’s license, license plate number, and make and model of the vehicle(s) you plan to drive on campus.


All bikes must be registered. This can be done at any kiosk center located around campus. The closest one is located at the Eisenhower Auditorium.


Please see the Centre Area Transit Authority (CATA) bus schedule included in your Welcome Packet or go to the CATA website. For further information on mass transit passes or to obtain a mass transit pass, please contact the Parking Office at the Eisenhower Deck (814-865-1436 or 814-865-1437).


Maps that show distance and time for walking around campus have been included in your Welcome Packet. For a complete listing of campus maps, click here.


ALL travel arrangements paid for by University funds MUST be made through your department. There are several travel agencies in town that are Penn State Contract Travel Agents. These agents are authorized by the University to direct-bill travel expenses. You MUST use one of these certified agents if you are seeking reimbursement from University funds. For a complete listing of certified University travel agents, please see your departmental contact person or see Penn State’s Travel Services website. The airport destination code for the airport in State College is SCE.

After making the travel reservation, you must request that the travel agent fax to your departmental contact person a copy of the itinerary. The departmental contact person will then prepare the direct bill form. The tickets will be delivered to your office address unless they are electronic tickets. While traveling, please keep all ORIGINAL receipts for those expenses for which you will seek reimbursement. You must give the ORIGINAL air passenger receipt to your departmental contact person, even though it is being directly billed. They will then process a travel expense form for your reimbursement.

Please remember when making reservations that there is sometimes a charge for changing a reservation. If you are unsure about making travel arrangements, please feel free to let your departmental contact person know well in advance of your scheduled departure date, and they will be happy to assist you.

If you are a nonresident of the United States, it is essential that you contact International Scholars and Faculty Visa Services (ISFVS) at Penn State (814-865-0423) before traveling outside the US.


There is a post office on campus located beside the HUB-Robeson Center, which is the student union. You can purchase stamps and mail large parcels there. The main branch of the State College Post Office is located at 237 South Fraser Street. Tax forms for preparing annual tax returns also can be obtained at this location.

If you have a letter or parcel that needs to be express mailed, please check with your departmental contact person for the fastest, most cost-efficient method of mailing.


Individuals are encouraged to obtain calling cards for use in making personal toll calls from University locations. However, if it is an emergency and you must make a personal toll phone call, you are expected to reimburse the University for the charge incurred.

Your departmental/laboratory supervisor will set guidelines for the use of phones in your area. Phones may be restricted in their use to local calls only in some departments. Some departments may prohibit long-distance calls within the U.S. or international calls.

To place a phone call on campus, you need to dial only the last five digits of the number. Example: If the phone number is 814-863-0000, you need to dial 3-0000.

To place a local phone call off campus, dial 8 to get an outside line and then the seven-digit number. Example: If the phone number is 814-867-0000, you need to dial 8-867-0000. The area code for the State College area is 814. You do not need to dial the area code before the seven-digit number if the area code is 814.

To place a long-distance phone call off campus to anywhere in Canada or the U.S., you need to dial 8, 1, the area code and the number. Example: If the phone number is 123-456-7890, you need to dial 8-1-123-456-7890.

To place international phone calls, you need to dial 8, and then 011 (the international access code) and the number. Example: If the phone number is 12 12345678, you need to dial 8-011-12-12345678.

Please remember that you dial the “8” only when you are on campus. You do not need to use it when making calls from your home.

EMERGENCY number for Police, Ambulance, and Fire is 911 for on-campus and off-campus locations. When dialing 911 on campus, you do not need to dial the “8” before the three-digit number

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Sometimes the hardest part of facing life’s challenges is knowing where to turn for help. This is what the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Penn State is for. Please feel free to contact EAP when a situation regarding work or your personal life affects your well-being. EAP resources can be accessed through SupportLinc online or by calling 1-888-501-3532. All EAP inquiries are treated with the strictest of confidence.