We're a little crazy, about science!

More on mentorship

It’s dangerous to go alone!

One of the more enjoyable aspects (see: favorite thing ever) of being a PhD candidate and about half way done with my degree (… WAIT. HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN?!) is that I get to be a mentor. To be fair, I’ve been mentoring since my senior year of undergrad, but my style has developed and I don’t… flail as much as I used to when I first started mentoring students.

Mentoring students is a lot like teaching, but you don’t have the stress of dealing with a large group. It’s probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. I get to help someone grow, make sure they don’t make the same mistakes I did, because let’s face it I’ve made every mistake humanly possibly, and I get to watch as they progress with their degree. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t care for large groups, I would totally be a teacher.

Today I’m meeting with my latest mentee, technically she’s an international student and with COVID she can’t come to our university, but we are working with her virtually to give her a similar experience that she would get if she was in the lab. This is a mutually beneficial relationship because unlike the other person I mentor full time, this one will be helping me with my project and not a different project.

I’ve already passed along some of the data I collected for my qualifying exam and some of the code I wrote to start processing the data. She’s had two weeks to poke around at it and see if she can make sense of it. Unlike me, she has some prior experience working with data like this so that will be helpful. I now have a lot of experience doing this, but when I started in the lab I had zero, so I know there’s a learning curve!

I’m excited mostly because I never finished with that dataset. I pulled out what I thought was the most interesting things about it, but I never went any further. I’m going to set her up to finish some of that work so that I can match up some of those findings with the dataset I have now. It should be a very good way to tie it all together! I’m super excited to see what else comes out of that dataset, I worked very hard to ensure it was a solid experiment and a solid dataset, so minimum noise, everything was carefully setup, etc.

In any case, the number of people I’m now mentoring is up by one and that isn’t a bad thing. I try to meet with the people I mentor once a week so I dedicate a few hours out of one day to make sure they are all on track and everything is working smoothly for them. The other person I’m mentoring K, she is working on a solid modeling project for a different set of experiments all together, but with my solid modeling background I’m the one who gets to work with her. She’s super motivated and we should be submitting her first conference paper some time before the end of the year.

She’s only at the start of her junior year and we’re planning on having her first author not one, but two conference papers and a journal paper before she graduates. She’s super motivated so I’m hoping my new mentee is just as motivated and I can help her get published and what not too. In my line of research, you do the work, you get to be first author. While I’m the mentor, they are doing the work so they get to be first and I am perfectly happy with that idea. Plus it makes me happy to see them get the full research experience so early on.

Anyway time to get to my meeting!

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