Definition of Mentoring:

A mentoring relationship has been defined as a “nurturing process in which a more skilled or experienced person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person” (Anderson & Shannon, 1988). Mentoring involves more than advising; it develops from an extended relationship in which both the mentor and student focus on the student’s academic, career, and personal growth. Many mentoring relationships extend well beyond graduate school and continue throughout the student’s career.

According to the National Council of Graduate Schools and the National Institutes of Health, mentors are:

Advisors, who have career experience and are willing to share their knowledge,

Supporters, who provide emotional and moral encouragement,

Tutors, who give specific feedback on one’s performance,

Supervisors, who monitor their students’ academic and professional progress,

Trainers, who teach students about professional responsibility,

Sponsors, who are sources of information about opportunities and assist students in obtaining them, and

Role models, who exhibit the qualities and ethical values that academics should posses (NIH,1999; Zelditch, 2001).

Our mentoring mission:

To foster a creative, supportive and collaborative environment with well-defined expectations, aiming at supporting trainees and allowing them to reach their full potential and maximize learning experiences at different levels. It is the responsibility of both the mentor and trainee to be proactive. With this in mind, we divide the sections below to address both mentors and mentees. Thus, Every co-mentor and mentee should discuss and develop the following areas, appropriate for different meetings.

  1. Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity
  2. Theses and Dissertations
  3. Teaching
  4. Career and Professional Development


In collaboration with the Nanotechnology Center, we developed a Research Mentoring Training


Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity:

Trainees and mentors are expected to:

Arrange regular meetings about research, scholarship, and creative activity. Considering that our trainees are co-advised by faculty from physical sciences and from the medical campus, we suggest weekly meetings (in average) with the primary advisor, and monthly meetings with the co-advisor. This frequency is expected to  keep trainees motivated and making steady progress. In addition, in the case of PhD students, a PhD thesis committee should be assembled with the consultation of both advisors. Trainees are expected to meet with their committees every 6-9 months.

Your mentors is expected to (and trainees should ask for it):

Help you shape your research proposal or creative project.

Discuss historical trends, current research, and research methods in your discipline.

Guide and critique your research project or creative activity.

Help you think about the ethical implications of your research work.

Assist you in selecting members of your thesis/dissertation/project committee.

As a mentee, you are expected to:

Always prepare yourself for meetings with your mentor. Arrive on time;  Bring a written, prioritized list of topics and questions for discussion; Bring a summary of what you’ve accomplished since the last meeting; Bring your notes from previous meetings;  Bring any relevant, upcoming deadlines (e.g., Graduate School deadlines, submission deadlines for professional meetings). Mentors has similar expectations and responsibilities.

During research meetings, trainees should create a brief summary of new tasks and any commitments that your mentor has made. The trainee should ask their mentor to review the notes before you leave. These summaries will help  avoid future misunderstandings and maintain a record of your research progress.

Follow the advice of your mentor; read recommended publications and give your mentor feedback about the usefulness of his/her suggestions.

Seek opportunities to work with your mentor on research, scholarly, and creative projects; professional meeting presentations; editorial reviews of publications and creative works; and grant proposals.

Give appropriate credit to your mentor and fellow collaborators in publications, presentations, exhibitions, and creative activities.

Actively participate in the activities of your laboratory or research/creative group.

Strive to complete all research and academic tasks on time; notify your mentor in a timely manner when you cannot meet a deadline.

Demonstrate an excellent work ethic.

Theses and Dissertations

Your mentor is expected to:

Mentors are expected to go over expectations for thesis writing, in terms of research documentation and format as well as time line, and encourage gradual writing of theses portions during the training. Both advisors from the medical campus and physical sciences are expected to coordinate such lines of suggestions and meet together and with the trainee to clarify expectations.

As a mentee, you are expected to:

Submit only carefully written, well-edited and proofread drafts of the thesis/dissertation to your mentor (unless otherwise instructed by your mentor).

Determine how long your mentor expects to have your draft before returning a critique.

Accept critiques of your draft in a professional manner; if you continue to disagree with your mentor about an issue, present a well-reasoned response at your next meeting.

When resubmitting drafts of your thesis/dissertation, mark the new or edited sections so that your mentor will not always have to read the entire document.


Your mentor is expected to:

The program recognizes that leadership skills can be acquired via different experiences, including teaching or participation in organizing yearly research workshops and retreats. Mentors will provide teaching opportunities within workshops, or seminars, or courses (at least one a year), and will devote time to review their own expected content and teaching style with the mentee.

As a mentee, you are expected to:

Seek out at least one excellent teacher to mentor you in developing your teaching skills (this person need not be your dissertation advisor).

Develop a relationship with your teaching mentor, establishing expectations and regular meeting times.

Work with your mentor to identify teaching opportunities in your department, including serving as a laboratory instructor, a discussion section leader, and/or an autonomous teacher.

Share your teaching goals with your mentor, including the syllabi and assignments you wish to develop, the content you wish to cover, and the skills you hope to improve.

Arrange for your mentor to observe your teaching on multiple occasions; then set up times when the two of you can meet to review your instruction, evaluate your progress, and set future teaching goals.

Encourage your mentor to help you create an inclusive classroom environment, capitalize on the diverse backgrounds of your students, and recognize different learning styles.

Take advantage of teaching-oriented opportunities offered by your department/college, the Center for Teaching Excellence, and the Graduate School; discuss what you have learned with your mentor.

Career and Professional Development

Your mentor is expected to:

Career and profession advice is an ongoing activity, and mentors should always provide proper updates and perspectives many times during the mentees graduate training.  Planning specifically for the next job, whether industrial, academic, or other, is initiated at least 12 months prior to completion of training. Mentors are expected to provide advice and links to other research groups, industrial sectors, and information on Career Fair for pre- and post-docs on a yearly basis, organized by the Division of Medical Sciences and the Graduate Schools in Engineering and Arts and Sciences

You are expected to:

Ask your mentor to provide you with career information and guidance.

Meet with your mentor to discuss your career aspirations and important issues in your professional development.

Request that your mentor introduce you to colleagues, potential employers, and other professionals who might help to advance your career.

Present your research and creative work in multiple forums (department, university, professional conferences/performances), and network with your mentor and his/her colleagues at these events.

Encourage your mentor to nominate you for fellowships, awards, and service committees that will enhance your professional profile.

Ask your mentor to help you develop interviewing skills, handle job offers, and negotiate a first contract.

Maintain contact with your mentor after graduation; inform him/her of your successes and continue to seek professional advice when needed.

Mentoring Literature

DeHaan, Robert.  2011. Teaching Creative Science Thinking. Science; 334(6062), 1499-1500.  PMID:1207918.

Thorndyke, LE et al. 2008. Functional Mentoring: A Practical Approach With Multilevel Outcomes. J Contin Educ Health Prof; 28(3), 157-64. PMID: 18712800

Thorndyke, LE at al. 2009. Find a Functional Mentor. Academic Physician and Scientist; 4-5.

Tracey, EE et al. 2004. Outcomes of a pilot faculty mentoring program. Amer J OBGYN; 191(6), 1846-50. PMID: 15592263

Triple Creek Enterprise Mentoring Systems. Formalizing Informal Learning.  Group Mentoring Research

Trunk, P. 2008. How I Got My Current Favorite Mentor. Accessed 2/7/10.

Viets, V et al. 2009. Reducing Health Disparities Through a Culturally Centered Mentorship Program for Minority Faculty: The Southwest Addictions Research Group (SARG) Experience. Acad Med; 84(8), 1118-26. PMID: 19638783

Walker, W et al. 2002. Mentoring for the New Millennium. Med Educ Online; 7, 15.

Wasserstein, A et al. 2007. Mentoring at the University of Pennsylvania: Results of a Faculty Survey. SGIM; 22, 210-214. PMID: 17356988

Windish, D et al. 2004. Clinician-teachers’ Self-assessments Versus Learners’ Perceptions. JGIM; 19, 554-557.

Woessner, R et al. 2000. Support and faculty mentoring programmes for medical students in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Med Educ; 34, 480-482. PMID: 10792691

Wong, E et al. 2001. Promoting the Advancement of Minority Women Faculty in Academic Medicine: The National Centers of Excellence in Women’s Health. J Womens Health and Gender-based Medicine; 10(6), 541-50. PMID: 11559451

Zerzan, J et al. 2009. Making the Most of Mentors: A Guide for Mentees. Acad Med; 84(1),140-4. PMID: 19116494