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The Postdoc/Mentor Relationship

The Postdoc/Mentor Relationship

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The Postdoc/Mentor Relationship

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  1. The Postdoc/Mentor Relationship

  2. Outline • What are mentors and who will yours be? • Setting expectations for your mentor • What expectations your mentor has of you • The Postdoc/Mentor Compact • Picking a Lab/Changing Labs

  3. Who are your mentors? • Research Mentors • Your PI • Collaborators • Other postdocs • Life mentors • People whose advice you trust • People who have succeeded at what you want to do

  4. Compact between you and your mentor • A statement of reasonable expectations For your mentor and for you • Ensure that a mutually agreed upon set of expectations are in place at the outset of the postdoc training period and are reviewed and revised periodically. • Develop a research project that includes well-defined goals and timelines. • Maintain a relationship that is based on trust and mutual respect

  5. What should you expect from your PI? • guidance and mentoring and a desire improve their mentoring skills • a training environment that is suited to your individual needs to ensure personal and professional growth. • Provide sufficient opportunities to acquire the skills necessary to become an expert in the chosen field of study. • Provide regular feedback (at least once per month) on the postdoc’s performance • Ensure that your research is submitted for publication in a timely manner and that appropriate credit is given for the work performed. Acknowledge your contribution to the development of any intellectual property

  6. What will your PI expect from you • Perform research conscientiously, maintain comprehensive research records, and catalog and store tangible research materials. • Assume progressive responsibility and management of my research project(s) as it matures and stay abreast of the literature related to my field of research. • Seek regular feedback (at least once per month) on my performance from my mentor. • Work with my mentor to submit research results for publication in a timely manner. • Leave behind all original notebooks, computerized files, and tangible research materials so that other individuals can carry on related research after I leave the lab

  7. Qualities to Consider when Selecting a Lab • Science and a project you’re passionate about • Matching expectations between postdoc and mentor • Career decisions • Time – yours and theirs • Trust and respect • Money

  8. Science • The science is interesting and you can work reasonably independently • Are there projects you can develop on your own – you can think of these as well • Consider the next step (job) • How will my mentor help me find the right job • What if my mentor is not interested in helping

  9. Matching Expectations • Match your expectations for a PI with a realistic assessment about whether the PI can meet them or not • Match your PI’s expectations for you with a realistic assessment about whether you can meet them or not • Match your “personality” to that of the lab. Mentor and lab personalities are diverse

  10. What expectations you should have for your mentor • One who is interested in being your mentor • A training environment where you can grow as a scientist • Opportunities to develop skills • Regular feedback • Timely publication of your results and acknowledgement of your contributions

  11. What expectations should your mentor have for you • Dedication of time and effort toward your research • Careful data management • Responsibility for your research (analysis of data and generation of new ideas) – own your project • Seek regular feedback and communicate what you are doing • Provide data and text for publications and grants in a timely manner • Understand data and materials ownership

  12. Expectations about Career • The major responsibility of mapping out your career falls on you • See where postdocs who leave the PI’s lab go next. Is it where you think you want to go? • Which of your mentors will help with developing your career • Doing research (generating ideas, experiments, analysis) • Writing • Speaking • Where to look for a job • Alternative career choices • PI, Collaborators, Colleagues

  13. Expectations about Time • How much time will you need from your PI, now and later, and is it likely you will get it. • How often do you want/need supervision or direction? • Is the PI likely to provide that • Are there additional mentors in the lab (and outside it) where I can get the direction/supervision I need • How much of my time does the lab need? • How does that fit with other demands on my time • How does it fit with my personal life • How do you balance those demands • Pay Off • Publications • Good next position

  14. Expectations about Trust and Respect • Trust and respect are usually earned rather than given • Communicate what you are doing • Be a careful with your work • Come up with your own analysis of your results rather than just presenting data • Think of different/alternative approaches • If you must be out of the lab for some reason be sure and tell your PI

  15. Money • The most stable sources of money are fellowships • Postdocs cannot submit research grants at BCM, but you can participate with your PI in writing theirs

  16. Potential downstream pitfalls • Changing labs • When the mentor/postdoc relationship fails • Finding a new PI

  17. What to expect of your other mentors • Recommendation Letters • Need to network with other faculty so that multiple people can describe your qualifications • Help with career advice • Provides multiple views and advice