Mentorship Philosophy

 

*This is a living document that will continue to evolve as I learn and grow as a mentor

My goal as a mentor is to provide each individual working in my lab with an experience that enables them to successfully transition to the next stage of their desired career. I try to mentor with enthusiasm and joy, to counterbalance the inherent frustrations associated with laboratory research. I value a rigorous approach to scientific inquiry, as well as a balance between lab work and personal life that supports the well-being and mental health of all lab members.

 

I tailor my mentorship to the specific background, needs, and goals of each individual working in the lab. I discuss these topics early on with prospective lab members, identifying areas of overlap and intersection between their interests and my own, which helps define potential projects. I also inquire about their interest in specific technical areas, which helps to further define training goals. I support career aspirations both within and outside of academia, and discussion of long-term goals helps me suggest career development activities in service of those goals. These conversations typically culminate in a comprehensive and individualized training plan for each individual who joins the lab.

A well-developed training plan helps lab members craft competitive applications for individual fellowships and grants, which I encourage at all stages of training. Members of my lab have successfully applied for competitive appointments to institutional NIH training grants, and received MnDRIVE neuromodulation fellowships as well as individual NRSA fellowships (F30/F31/F32) from NIDA and NIMH. This success speaks first and foremost to the talent and hard work of the award recipients, but also illustrates the utility of discussing training goals early and often. Conversations about training goals and career development continue regularly in my weekly individual meetings with each lab member.

During their time in the lab, I expect each lab member to become a technical expert in one or more methodologies. I further expect each graduate student and postdoc to use their unique expertise to lead a research project that culminates in one or more first-author publications of original research. I encourage lab members to contribute their unique expertise to each other's projects when this can increase our insight into biological problems. I support collaboration within my lab as well as collaborations with other labs, including co-advising relationships with other faculty members on projects of mutual interest.

© 2023 by Patrick Rothwell