Excellent mentoring strategies

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An article arrived in my inbox this morning and it seems so spectacular, I wanted to highlight it as its own post:

Emery, N., A. Hund, R. Burks, M. Duffy, C. Scoffoli, A. Swei. 2019. Students as ecologists: Strategies for successful mentorship of undergraduate researchers. Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5090

This article emerged out of a session at the Ecological Society of America meeting last year. (I have nothing to do with it, didn’t even know about it until today, though I do know a bunch of the authors and think they’re the bee’s knees.) The abstract says:

Guiding undergraduates through the ecological research process can be incredibly rewarding and present opportunities to break down barriers to inclusion and diversity in scientific disciplines. At the same time, mentoring undergraduate researchers is a complicated process that requires time and flexibility. While many academics receive extensive guidance on how to be successful in research endeavors, we pay much less attention to training in mentorship and working collaboratively with undergraduate students. This paper seeks to provide a framework for successfully collaborating with undergraduates including initial recruitment, development of a contract, fostering student ownership of research projects, and submission of a polished manuscript.

It looks like a must-read if you’re in the business of mentoring undergraduates, and especially if you’re in the position of supporting graduate students and faculty who are developing as mentors. It’s not a substitute for formal training in mentorship, but it seems like the best piece of writing to dip one’s toes into this water.

It’s pretty standard for grad students to take on undergraduates, and common for them to take a particular interest in the professional development of these students. This paper covers all the main bases about developing this mentoring relationship. The paper is by ecologists and talks about ecology, but nearly all of it can be generalized to mentorship in STEM in general.

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