When I agreed to chair the University’s Diversity Committee, I accepted a charge to research and develop a mentoring program for diverse faculty. The ensuing research clarified a number of important insights that have shaped my approach to mentoring of both students and junior faculty.
The first of these relates to the idea that mentoring should come from a network of supporters. Rather than rely on one mentor for all aspects of our work, the recent research on mentoring indicates that students and faculty should put themselves (rather than a single mentor) at the center of their mentoring network. They should then assess the various tasks they need help with and fill out their network with people particularly well suited to support them for each task, rather than seeking a single person to meet all their needs. This reduces the time commitment of being a mentor while providing the mentee with a range of opinions, strategies, options, and in the end more helpful advice. This is particularly important because, as I learned during the process of developing the mentoring program, peer mentoring is actually more effective than hierarchical one-on-one mentoring. Thus, in addition to finding mentors amongst faculty, graduate students should also seek out and cultivate networks of support amongst their peers.
The second is that mentoring also involves providing a range of resources. I ask students and junior faculty what they think they need, and I fight to get those resources from them. Sometimes what they want is my time and attention, but often, in the resource-starved Humanities, that also involves fighting for funding—be that fellowships, grants, or paid work opportunities.
Finally, the data is very clear that white men prefer to mentor people who look like them. This is an enormous problem in the context of diversifying academia, as it has two serious negative consequences. First, it means that white men tend to only mentor other white men. Since white men still hold most of the important positions in Universities, women and people of color have less access to the people who control resources, know the institution best, and can provide good advice about navigating the complex system that is academia. Second, this overtaxes women and people of color, who end up having to mentor everyone else. This of course has an impact on the time they can spend on their own work, which, in turn, keeps them from moving into higher positions in the University from which they can advocate for all students and faculty. This is not to say, of course, that I don’t mentor white straight men. I do it all the time, and with great success. But it does mean that I am very careful to actively offer mentorship to people who do not look like me, particularly as a white queer woman, people of color.
Mentoring people who don’t look like me has also benefited me personally and professionally. I have learned an enormous amount from people of color as peers and as mentees. They bring perspectives and insights about our world that my own experiences as a white woman would not produce, and I am both smarter and more effective because of my ongoing interactions with them.
School of Computing
From my perspective, the goal of mentoring is not to create a replica of myself. The process is far more nuanced than that. I certainly want to instill the “best practices” of our trade, which in the case of academia consists of things like critical thinking skills, rigor and reproducibility, and the formulation and communication of ideas. In these things I desire “do as I do”. There are, however, a lot of things that are a function of “style” – my particular perspective on doing research. For each of the 30+ students (postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates) whom I have mentored, my goal has been to walk along side them through various research endeavors and demonstrate how I would go about doing things. In the early stages of their studies, this normally consists of directing them in research. As they mature, this adapts into providing them alternative viewpoints on their (self-formed) plan of action. The goal is for them to take on the best practices while developing their own unique style of research and enquiry. Mentoring is a very rewarding experience for me, seeing each one of my students develop their own innate talents, abilities and style.
Social Psychology & Health Psychology
I have been extremely fortunate to have wonderful mentors in my life as a high school (Mike Chinen), undergraduate (John Balogh), graduate (John Cacioppo), and postdoctoral (Janice Kiecolt-Glaser) student, and as a faculty member at the University of Utah (Tim Smith). As a result, I decided long ago that I could make a bigger and more meaningful impact on the field by fostering the career of others. My mentoring approach is guided by several principles. First, I make mentoring one of my top priorities. This has worked well for me over my 24 years at the University of Utah because mentoring is a reciprocal learning process so all aspects of my scholarship have been enriched by it. Second, I view mentoring as a contextual (dyadic) process so flexibility and awareness of the unique needs of mentees are important. Finally, the importance of fostering a trusted, supportive relationship with mentees cannot be overstated. A good quality relationship serves as a lens by which mentoring interactions are filtered so that if the relationship is a trusted one, the other important pieces of mentoring (e.g., communicating knowledge, integration into the field) fall naturally into place.
|Michael S Kay|
Michael Kay is a Professor of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine and Director of the Biological Chemistry Graduate Program. Before coming to Utah in 2001, he trained with Harold Scheraga at Cornell University (BA in Biology and Chemistry), Robert Baldwin at Stanford University (MD/PhD in Biochemistry), and Peter Kim at MIT (Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow). He currently mentors one postdoctoral and five predoctoral trainees and has graduated eight PhD students. His lab designs mirror-image peptides for use as novel therapies that are not degraded in the body, with a special emphasis on viral entry inhibitors. His mentoring philosophy can be summarized by the maxim “a week in the lab saves an hour in the library”. Tackling important scientific problems is intense work, and the best training comes from sharing in all aspects of it – the excitement and joy of discovery, along with the challenges of troubleshooting and fundraising, all while keeping a optimistic attitude and a sense of humor.
Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Mentoring is really a rewarding activity. To witness the growth of graduate students/postdoctoral fellows into admirable scientists and colleagues is the highlight of academic life. I was fortunate to be associated with excellent students and postdoctoral fellows. My main aim in mentoring is to instill in students and postdoctoral associates the love for science. I strongly believe that the future of science is in an interdisciplinary approach to hypotheses design and problem solving. Thus I try to create an interdisciplinary environment where mentees’ with different backgrounds (chemistry, biology, engineering) can develop their talents to the fullest. I motivate my students to develop own ideas, formulate new hypotheses, and experimentally validate them, whereas I give them challenging questions, focus on improving their critical thinking and reasoning skills, and provide consistent assistance. Learning is a mutual process – I learn from my coworkers and they learn from me. Finally, I try to lead and educate by example, not by force.
Jindřich Kopeček received his Ph.D. in Macromolecular Chemistry and D.Sc. in Chemistry from the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CAS), Prague. His postdoctoral studies were done at the National Research Council of Canada. Before joining the University of Utah in 1988, he was Principle Investigator and Laboratory Head at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry, CAS. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering. Hydrogels from his laboratory have been in clinical use and HPMA copolymer – anticancer drug conjugates in clinical trials. Kopeček’s Hirsch index is 85; his publications have been cited over 25,500 times (Google Scholar 03092017). Since 1988 Kopeček has supervised directly 32 Ph.D. students, 8 M.S. students, 9 Research Faculty Members, 32 Postdoctoral Fellows, and 51 Visiting/Rotating and Exchange Students. Former mentees hold tenured faculty positions at major universities (such as Cornell, Rutgers, Case Western Reserve, Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Howard, Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, Ben Gurion University in Israel) and pharma/biotech companies (such as Nizagara, Amgen, GSK, Gilead, and Novartis). Some of lab alumni have become distinguished endowed professors, department chairs, executives and directors in large companies, and successful entrepreneurs.
In the four decades I have been at the University of Utah, I have been most fortunate to have had the opportunity to work individually with wonderful students whose intelligence and motivation made mentoring so rewarding, an activity from which I almost always received every bit as much as I gave.
As a mentor, my attitude and behavior have been the direct result of those mentors I was fortunate enough to have had as both an undergraduate and graduate student. As I suspect is true of all of those who have been honored with the U’s Distinguished Mentor Award, the opportunity to mentor has, for me, always felt like a major benefit of my job, never as a burden or price I had to pay. While I love classroom teaching, my professional life as a teacher would have been far less satisfying and rewarding had I never had the opportunity to mentor both graduate and undergraduate students.
As an academic, I learned quickly that every student with whom I worked individually brought their own strengths (on which I tried to build), areas for growth (which I tried to facilitate), and unique personality to our collaborations. Whether an undergraduate research assistant in our lab, an honors student working on their own project, or a graduate student working on their thesis or dissertation, I recognized the importance of my becoming aware of, and helping to nurture, their unique goals and ambitions; that I make sure that our collaboration was truly symbiotic, with both of us growing from our work together. With undergraduates, this often meant helping to facilitate their developing the skills and accumulating the experiences that would help them to gain admittance to and to be successful in graduate school. With graduate students I have mentored, I tried never to lose sight of their professional aspirations and to work hard to facilitate their reaching those goals.
I have loved being able to mentor students at the U for over forty years. It will be among the things I miss the very most when I retire next year.
Donald Strassberg received his BA in psychology from Hunter College in the Bronx (City University of New York), his M.A. in psychology from the University of New Hampshire, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from George Peabody College (Vanderbilt University). He joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah in 1975. He received the College of Social and Behavioral Science Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986, the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999, and the Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Prize in Teaching in 2010. In 2012, he was made a Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and, in 2013, he received the James A. Maddock (teaching) Award from the Society for Family Psychology. While at the “U,” he has mentored 26 Doctoral and Post-Doctoral students and over 20 honors thesis, senior thesis, and UROP undergraduate students.
My approach to mentoring reflects my general approach to life – I treat others as I wish to be treated, with kindness and respect. And, I give in proportion to what I have received. I have been fortunate over my years of development and training to have had many mentors who cared deeply and who have guided tremendously. I am thankful for the support, encouragement, and examples they provided for me; I am honored and humbled that my actions are now being recognized as positive examples of mentorship to others. Though, I sometimes wonder what exactly mentoring is. For me, it is not something “extra” that I do. It is simply what I do and has become a part of my everyday behaviors as a professor. When I teach, no matter if it is a small-enrolling graduate seminar or a large undergraduate lecture course, I hope to inspire students to meet their full potential by showing enthusiasm for the topic and for showing respect to each and every one of them as individuals. When I do research, I bring students into my projects and I enjoy working alongside them to develop their own projects, since I believe they will have more lasting learning if they do instead of only reading about something. When I am in an administrative or service role, I try to create clear documents, policies, and resources that they can draw on to be more self-sufficient in meeting expectations and requirements. To me, being a mentor is synonymous with being a professor and is about fostering environments and opportunities for each student to reach his or her potential and to meet his or her goals.
Rebecca Utz completed a bachelor degree in psychology from Miami University (Ohio), where she later completed a master degree in gerontology and health care administration. She completed a PhD in sociology and demography from the University of Michigan. She has been a faculty member in the department of sociology since 2004, where she works closely with both undergraduate and graduate students. Her research adopts a life course perspective to understand how families cope with the transitions of later life (bereavement and caregiving) and how families influence health risk and health behaviors (obesity and aging).
School of Computing
I had the privilege to work with many students and postdocs over the years and my focus has always been on creating spaces that foster new ideas. In my view, it is essential to have an environment where people can establish the habit to fully develop their thoughts and gain the confidence necessary to present them to others. I find inspiration from the classical Socratic method by engaging people in debate and helping them in sharpening their own ideas instead to imposing preconceived knowledge. My most important role, though, is to gain a deep understanding about what aspirations and desires drive each person. The academic environment can be a great launching pad for different careers in industry, research, and education. True appreciation for the value of diverse motivations and ambitions is very important to help students find their personal calling and be happy and successful not only as professionals but in their personal life. I am continually learning about mentoring from my students, postdocs, and collaborators and each has shaped and improved my practice.
|Aaron James Bertram|
Department of Mathematics
Mentoring is one of the great joys of my academic life, and I have had the good fortune to be affiliated with wonderful students and postdocs continuously since I arrived at the University of Utah in 1993. When working with undergraduates, my emphasis is on exploration and fun. Our goal is to find a mathematical direction that interests the student and to pursue it at a depth that is not possible in an ordinary class. When working with PhD students, the aim is to reach the frontiers of research and carve out both an original approach to a mathematical problem as well as an area of expertise that the student will carry onward into post-PhD mathematical endeavors. My postdoctoral advisees I treat as equals. We work on problems together, each bringing something different to the table.
Finally, I’ve worked with a dozen or so high school math teachers on masters projects, ranging from Rubik’s cubes to cryptography, the projective plane and the five Euclidean solids. I have learned much about teaching from these student/teachers, as they crafted projects that combined a novel (for them) mathematical concept together with ideas about how to share their insights with other high school teachers and their own students.
You may find a list of my advisees, titles of their projects, and some indication of their subsequent employment at: www.math.utah.edu/~bertram/cv.pdf
|Amy Aldous Bergerson|
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
For 25 years, an ethic of care has guided my work with college students. In residence life at Grinnell College, academic advising and orientation at Salt Lake Community College, and for 10 years as a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah, the driving force behind my work has been the success of the students who enter the sphere of my care. A central aspect of a caring ethic is the notion of relationship and the inherent reciprocity that exists in relationships. Whether encouraging a student who is trying to wrap her head around a new way of thinking, nurturing a doctoral student to become an independent scholar, or listening to a student’s interpretation of research data, the greatest rewards of teaching come when I learn from students. Seeing students as whole people – with families, homes, hobbies, cares, strengths and fears – has helped me understand that they already have an enormous amount of potential. My job is simply to facilitate the actualization of that potential through sincere care for them. My work honors those who took the time to care for me, and I hope to build a community of scholars who care for those who enter their spheres as well.
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
My approach for mentoring students is to consider each person’s individual needs. Some benefit from a structured set of meetings and goals, while others do better with a more “hands off” approach, where they work independently and come to me with questions or for advice. The key is to develop this relationship over time and learn what works best for each student. Regardless of the individual strategy, it is important to be available as a mentor as much as possible, and to remain engaged with everyone to keep them on track. I also believe in giving students room to try (and sometimes fail) in their own work, whether at the bench or in oral and written presentations. I think that a lot of learning can occur through this process, especially if it is followed by feedback from the mentor and others. There is a place for leading by example, but I try not to use this as a primary method, as in my experience it is more effective as a reinforcement of lessons that students learn on their own.
Dr. Dorsky received his B.A. in Molecular Biology from U.C. Berkeley in 1990. He performed his graduate thesis work in the Department of Biology at U.C. San Diego, where he studied retinal development, and received his Ph.D. in 1996. He performed postdoctoral research at the University of Washington, where his work focused on the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in central nervous system development. Dr. Dorsky began his faculty position in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy in 2001, and his laboratory uses zebrafish to study the genetic regulation of neurogenesis during embryonic development, in the adult brain, and in regeneration following injury. He is also the Director of the University of Utah Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience. Dr. Dorsky has mentored 5 predoctoral and 4 postdoctoral trainees, 6 of whom have moved on to academic faculty positions. He currently mentors 3 predoctoral trainees in his laboratory.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (St. Paul)
The central theme of my mentoring philosophy is to keep the best interests of the student in mind. If I seek the best interests of the student before my interests, it inevitably will work in favor of both of us. I believe that positive encouragement and realistic assessments of their work can propel students to the next level of excellence. Finding the right student is a critical component of a good mentoring relationship. I seek out students that are personally compatible with me and my lab members. These students tend to be self-propelled and highly intelligent, and promise to be persistent, hard-working and open-minded. We maintain high standards of excellence (3 first-author paper minimum; well-honed oral presentations, high GPAs, high teaching standards, helping others, encouraging academic collegiality and being active in our department/college). Students also buy into our goal of translating our scientific discoveries into therapies for cancer patients. This translational goal in turn motivates us all to work for something bigger than ourselves. I encourage students to think about what they want to do after graduate school early on, and we work towards this goal together. We grow and celebrate a student’s strengths, and use these strengths to grow others in the lab. We work on their weaknesses also with the help of the lab. Mistakes are allowed, and hypotheses can be proven wrong. My students are given management and leadership articles to read prepare them for the real world. They are given opportunities to mentor others, teach in my classes and lead/write review articles and write research papers (under my supervision). The first time at anything new, we pay attention to all the little details; after they have mastered one task, I increase their level of independence. Motivating from love rather than fear works best. We also recognize that every seminar they give is an opportunity to highlight our work in the lab, so we aspire to make their presentations nearly perfect. Conversely, I also solicit feedback from my students on my own work (grants, papers, lectures) and take their suggestions to heart. I consider it a great privilege to be able to mentor a student who has agreed to dedicate a number of years in my lab. Such a decision warrants a compassionate approach to mentoring, which treats the student as a whole, and considers their hopes and aspirations. With a focus on growing a student to independence, they are well-prepared to go into the academic world with the skills needed to solve difficult problems.
Carol Lim is an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy. She received her B.S. degree in Pharmacy from Purdue University, and her PhD from UCSF in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. She did her post-doctoral training at the NIH at the National Cancer Institute in the Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression before coming to Utah. Her research focuses on novel gene and protein/peptide therapeutics for cancer therapy. The laboratory currently focuses on chronic myeloid leukemia, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Dr. Lim collaborates with faculty in her own department, and MD-research clinicians from the School of Medicine and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. Lim has had continuous federal funding for her research (NIH, DOD) since 2005. She has won “Teacher of the Year Awards” from the College of Pharmacy in 2005, 2008, and 2012, and has won Distinguished Teaching Awards for the College of Pharmacy in 2005 and 2012. Dr. Lim has mentored 14 PhD students to date, and is currently a permanent member of NIH Study Section (Gene and Drug Delivery).
|Professor Bruce K. Gale|
Bruce K. Gale, received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University in 1995 and his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Utah in 2000. He was an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University before returning to the University of Utah in 2001 where he is now a professor of Mechanical Engineering. He is currently Director of the Utah State Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics and the College of Engineering Nanofabrication Facility. He is also Chief Science Officer at Wasatch Microfluidics, a multiplexed instrument development company focused on protein characterization in the pharmaceutical industry, that was spun out of his lab in 2005. He also recently became Chief Science Officer at Espira, which focuses on pathogen detection. He has been working in the area of microfluidics, nanotechnology, medical devices, and micro-total-analysis systems (m-TAS) for the past 18 years. His primary interests include lab-on-a chip devices that require a variety of microfluidic components for the completion of complex and challenging medical and biological assays. Specifically, he is working to develop a microfluidic toolbox for the rapid design, simulation, and fabrication of devices with medical and biological applications. The ultimate goal is to develop platforms for personalized medicine, which should allow medical treatments to be customized to the needs of individual patients. He also has expertise in nanoscale patterning of proteins and sensors, nanoparticle characterization, miniature medical devices, and nanofabrication techniques. He has graduated 13 PhD students and 27 MS students and advised 6 post doctoral researchers. He is currently advising 11 PhD and 2 MS students. He has also advised dozens of undergraduate students on research projects.
|Professor Matthew Mulvey|
I was born in El Paso, Texas, where I lived until moving to attend the University of Texas at Austin. There I received a Ph.D. in Biology after completing a thesis project that examined the assembly of virus particles in mammalian cells. During a postdoc fellowship that took me to Sweden and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, I was introduced to the world of bacterial pathogens and their remarkable ability to commandeer host functions and thwart host defenses. I have continued work in this field since starting my own lab at the University of Utah in 2001. My group is currently focused on understanding the survival and virulence strategies employed by a group of important bacterial pathogens collectively known as Extraintestinal Pathogenic Escherichia coli, or ExPEC. These bacteria can efficiently colonize the gastrointestinal tract like commensal strains, but have the added capacity to disseminate and cause disease in other host niches, including the blood, central nervous system, and the urinary tract. ExPEC strains are responsible for some of the most common infections on the planet and are gaining resistance to antibiotics at an alarming rate. We are working to delineate both bacterial and host factors that control the ability of ExPEC to colonize and persist within diverse environments, with a major goal being the development of new anti-bacterial therapeutics.
|Distinguished Professor Timothy W. Smith|
Prof. Smith received his BA in psychology from Gettysburg College, and his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas. After a pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology and post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine at the Brown University Program in Medicine, Dr. Smith joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah in 1983. He has published approximately 250 scholarly articles, chapters, and books, and his widely cited research has been supported by the NIH. At Utah, he has served as the Department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and multiple times as the Director of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. He founded the Graduate Program in Health Psychology at Utah, and has supervised 25 successful PhD students. In the 21 year history of the American Psychological Association Early Career Award in Health Psychology, two of his PhDs have received this prestigious award, and only two other institutions (UCLA, Yale) have multiple recipients of this honor among their graduates. He also served on the APA Committee that established guidelines for graduate training in clinical health psychology.
|Associate Professor Cari Johnson|
Department of Geology and Geophysics
|Professor Janet Shaw|
Department of Biochemistry
|Distinguished Professor Mladen Bestvina|
Department of Mathematics
|Professor Kristen Keefe|
Pharmacology & Toxicology
|Professor Peregrine Schwartz-Shea|
Department of Political Science
|Professor Matt Basso|
Department of History
|Professor Chi Bin Chien|
Neurobiology & Anatomy
|Professor E. Dale Abel|
School of Medicine
|Professor Don Feener|
Department of Biology
|Professor Kathleen Mooney|
College of Nursing
|Professor David Grainger|
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
|Professor Mikhail Raikh|
Department of Physics
|Professor Jack Simons|
Department of Chemistry
|Professor Fred Adler|
Departments of Mathematics and Biology
|Professor Denise Dearing|
Department of Biology
|Professor Robert Marc|
Departments of Ophthalmology and Physiology
|Professor Phyllis Coley|
Department of Biology
|Professor Robert Goldberg|
Department of History
|Professor Gary Keck|
Department of Chemistry
|Professor Susan Beck|
College of Nursing
|Professor Peter Philips|
Department of Economics
|Professor Carl Thummel|
Department of Human Genetics
|Professor Cynthia Berg|
Department of Psychology
|Professor Chris Ireland|
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
|Professor Mary Lucero|
Department of Physiology