Capitol building

Postdoctoral Resources

The D.C. area if full of fun places to visit. The Smithsonian Institution is one example. It consists of more than 20 different museums, most of which are free. One favorite is the Air and Space Museum. Other favorites are the National Gallery of Art and American Museum of Natural History. If you are not into museums, how about walking around Georgetown, or hanging out in Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan. Hop on the metro and check out the Eastern Market, located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, or take a hike in Rock Creek Park

For the Performing Arts, visit the Kennedy Center, which overlooks the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Another such venue is Strathmore Hall, a new center for the Performing Arts, located nearby in Maryland (take the Red Line to the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station). You can also enjoy live music at the 9:30 Club on 815 V Street, N.W. For an outdoor venue, try Wolf Trap, America’s National Park for the Performing Arts. For a weekly listing of events around town, click here.

Physicist Paul Halpern has put together an interesting “circuit tour” of significant sites in the history of physics in Washington, DC. The tour starts on the Mall and includes places like the Smithsonian, National Academy of Sciences, GWU, Georgetown, and Carnegie, finally ending up at the AIP American Center for Physics (metro-accessible) in College Park. Biographical sketches are interspersed throughout.

A copy of his guidebook is available in BBR’s Reading Room. Happy walking! (Courtesy BBR librarian Shaun Hardy)

While on campus, be sure to join some of your colleagues at the campus beer hour every Friday beginning at 5:30 pm. It’s a good way to make friends and find out what’s cooking around town. Speaking of cooking, be sure to join the campus lunch club as well; an opportune time to share ideas, make friends, and break bread together! When you need to burn off some of those calories, join our DTM soccer/football group! The DTM Dynamos vs the GL Pistons match is always an exciting event!

If you love nature, then definitely look into visiting Carnegie’s Vannevar Bush Retreat at Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland (call DTM’s admin group for reservation login information). This retreat was a gracious gift of a former Carnegie President to Carnegie employees.

Art, Science, and lectures around town:


Check out the exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.

Koshland Science Museum, 525 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Accommodations & Childcare

A good place to get a feel for D.C. neighborhoods is 4WallsinDC. Most posdocs live in Northwest, D.C., on or near Connecticut Avenue in the Van Ness/Chevy Chase, D.C., area. This is within walking distance to DTM. D.C. is known for high rent, and the closer to the metro you go, the higher the rent. Both areas are within walking distance to buses, the Metro, grocery stores, great shops, etc. Some popular rental buildings have websites: Connecticut Heights, The Kenmore, The Chesapeake, La Reine, and The Albemarle.

Nearby hotels include Courtyard Marriott, Chevy Chase, Days Inn on Connecticut Avenue, and the Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion (intersection of Military and Wisconsin Avenues). There are also a few boarding houses in walking distance to the campus. Contact anyone in admin for more information.

The helpful following comments regarding housing options were provided by our very own Irish Fellow Paul Byrne!

Deciding Not to Live at the Train Station

Settling on where to live is a personal choice, but some obvious questions to ask include:

1.) How much do you want to pay?

2.) What kind of accommodation do you want — studio/efficiency (a small apartment in which the living and sleeping space is joined with the kitchen area), a one-bedroom apartment, or something larger?

3.) Do you want to live close to DTM, in downtown D.C., or somewhere in-between?

4.) What neighborhood amenities are important to you, such as a nearby Metro station, a supermarket, or access to D.C.’s Rock Creek Park?

5.) What apartment amenities are important to you? Do you want to have a washer/dryer in your apartment, or must the apartment block feature an indoor pool?

There is a myriad of websites with which you can start to address these questions and ultimately find somewhere to live, including,,, and (I found the last site particularly useful). Realistically, your final choice of apartment will reflect a compromise of all of these questions. The first, how much you’ll want to pay, is perhaps the most important, and is at least partly a function of how much your take-home pay will be each month. The tax system in the U.S. defies my understanding (here’s the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] website, and if you feel like tackling it yourself, then more power to you), but you can expect to pay between approximately 28% and 35% of your gross monthly pay in federal and district taxes, and in healthcare insurance premiums (obtaining and keeping personal healthcare coverage is one of the requirements for maintaining a J-1 visa status).

So depending on your salary/stipend, your decision on where to live, and the type of accommodation you select, a guide for the cost of rent is somewhere between $1,500 and $1,800 per month. Also keep in mind location: While the public transport system in D.C. (more on that below) is very good, you might not want to spend an hour commuting each way if you can find somewhere to live closer to DTM. Connecticut Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, runs quite close to the Department, and is host to many apartment blocks and residences, so is a good place to look.

Certain parts of the U.S. have “rent control” programs that are designed to moderate how much a property management company or individual landlord can charge for a given residence (specifically, how much a property owner can increase that residence’s rent: A key feature of rent control is that the utility costs associated with an apartment are often contained in the rent, including gas, electricity, water, and refuse collection. Thus what may seem a significant expense could ultimately prove to be better value that what you could pay in your home country. Rent prices that include utilities are very common in the District, though are not ubiquitous. You can expect to budget between $60 and $100 per month for electricity, particularly in the summer months when D.C. gets very hot, but consult with your prospective landlord to find out how much other utilities could cost.

When it comes to moving into your chosen apartment, ask what payments you’ll need to provide up front. Requirements vary from place to place, but it’s not uncommon to have to pay a security deposit (typically one month’s rent) in addition to your first monthly rent payment, while those apartment complexes that have amenities such as fitness centers, communal gardens, or pools, often levy an additional, though once-off, “amenities fee” on top of other payments. So before moving in, you may have to shell out up to $3,000. The good news is that many management companies waive some or all of the additional fees, depending on the time of year you move in, and the availability of apartments in their building, so it could well work out quite a bit cheaper.

ApartmentList (approved by the U.S. Department of State, under housing) provides a free rental search service that can be of help when searching for a place to live.    Click here if you are interested in the Van Ness/Connecticut Avenue area. 

Taxes, Visas & Social Security

Informational Links

Helpful information can be found on the Human Resources page of this Carnegie Institution for Science link.  For visa information, visit Travel.State.Gov, which is a service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Banking at Suntrust, 5000 Connecticut Avenue, is convenient and provides certain benefits for Carnegie employees. Here are links that will be useful to you when preparing your taxes: National Postdoctoral Association's "Overiew of Tax Issues for Postdocs", Science's "Postdocs and the Law, Part 3--Are Postdocs Employees?", and NSF AAPF's "Taxes". Or go to the IRS website.

Fiscal Office Reminder

Visas holders be aware that when planning on leaving the U.S. on business or vacation that your DS-2019 needs to have the Travel Validation section current by having Carnegie’s responsible official’s signature in place before departing.  Otherwise, there may be problems when attempting to re-enter the U.S.


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Emergency Information

Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

There are five AEDs located on campus. One is just inside the main door on the left wall of the Research Building; One on north central wall on the second floor in the hallway of the Research Building; one in the Greenewalt Building near the restrooms; One in the Cyclotron Building ground floor near the parking entrance; and one in the Abelson Building main floor opposite the elevator. 

Campus AED map

Fire Extinguishers

Every lab has a fire extinguisher nearby. Please review the following slides about fire safety and be sure to know where the nearest fire extinguisher is to your office.

Click here for large version of this map.

Emergency Contacts

Gary Bors - (202) 510-8577

Quintin Miller - (202) 590-6188

First Aid Kits

First Aid Kits can be found throughout the BBR campus. Kits in the Cyclotron Building are located outside the ion probe lab, on the second floor outside the chem lab, and in the main mass spec lab. In the Abelson Building there is one in the middle hallway. In the Research Building there is one on both the first and second floors on the Geophyical Laboratory (GL) side in the middle hallway. The machine shop has two kits on the ground floor of the Research Building and there are two kits outside each service chases R-124 and R224.

PDF icon FirstAidKits.pdf

DC Police

The DC Metropolitan Police department has a Search for Crime link if you would like to know the crime statistics of a particular area.  Investing in a small flashlight to help you navigate in dark areas would be very helpful.  When leaving the campus at night, try and walk with a colleague who is going in the same direction.

Because we are located near Rock Creek Park, calling the  U.S. Park Police might result in a quicker response during an emergency.  Their 24-hour emergency number is (202) 610-7500.  Otherwise, call 911 with the 5241 Broad Branch Road NW address. Up-to-date emergency status information for the campus can be found by dialing (202) 478-8486.

Hospital & Fire Station

The nearest fire station is located at 4930 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 and can be reached at (202)673-3231. 

The nearest hospital is Sibley Hospital located at 5255 Loughboro Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, and can be reached at (202) 537-4000  Other hospitals in the area include, Georgetown University Hospital, George Washington University Hospital, and Suburban, to name a few.

Closest pharmacy to our campus is CVS pharmacy at 5013 Connecticut Avenue, NW.  It is right next door to our local bookstore Politics & Prose. 

Staying Safe

While certain neighborhoods are “safer” than others, crime can occur anywhere and so common sense and caution should be exercised at all times. Here are some simple rules that should apply to everyone, regardless of gender: 1) Try to travel in groups after dark. 2) Take taxis at night. 3) Carry a small pocket map. 4) If you leave with five people to go somewhere, return with five people. 5) If you listen to music while jogging or walking, be extra cautious. 6) If you’ve been drinking, do not drive and take a cab home. 7) Don’t carry lots of cash or flaunt expensive jewelry/watches. 8) Keep your wallet in a safe place. 9) Carry your bags across your body, and not just over a shoulder. 10) Stay in well-lit areas. 11) If you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, pay attention to the quadrant. 12) Always look as though you know where you’re going; look confident, not scared. 13) Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings. Trust your instincts if someone or something doesn’t feel “right” and get away!

For a wonderful guide to DC from the University of California, San Diego's Washington Program (UCDC), click here.