Become a Mentoring Rockstar
Learn the theory. Apply it to yourself. Troubleshoot with others.
Inclusive mentoring, supervising and teaching practices in research for graduate student and postdoctoral scholar mentors.
What is it?
This small-group mentoring workshop provides graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with the information they need to address some mentoring issues they may be facing when overseeing other trainees in the laboratory. The workshops are designed to actively apply inclusive strategies to supervise, mentor and educate trainees to real-life situations submitted anonymously by participants.
The instructors will use frameworks in inclusive training practices (as presented in the TRAIN-UP Introduction to Mentoring workshop series. (There is no requirement to have completed TRAIN-UP to participate).
This program is a collaboration between UCSF's Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) and City College of San Francisco's Biotechnology Program. Meetings will be facilitated by Laurence Clement (OCPD, UCSF), Karen Leung (Biotechnology, CCSF), and occasionally James Lewis (Biotechnology, CCSF) and Naledi Saul (OCPD, UCSF). It is funded by an NSF ATE grant.
Sign-up for the next TRAIN-UP Applied meeting:
- January 24th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Gen-S261 (Mission Bay).
- February 7th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in MH-1400 (Mission Bay).
- February 28th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Gen-S261 (Mission Bay).
- March 14th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in MH-1406 (Mission Bay).
March 28th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in MH-1407 (Mission Bay). This session canceled
- April 18th, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in MH-1406 (Mission Bay).
Lunch will be provided. There will be opportunities to join online via Zoom.
Interested in submitting a case study for the discussions? Email Laurence Clement at [email protected].
What participants have said:
I think it is a great program, if TRAIN-UP applied runs again, I would love to participate (...). Everyone that is supervising someone should go through this training, it is extremely useful.
Overall I thought these sessions were excellent and so useful. I learned A TON in the TRAIN-UP workshop series, but I didn't really put the learning into practice until prompted by the TRAIN-UP APPLIED meetings.
Thursday, April 18th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mission Bay in Mission Hall room MH-1406. Lunch will be provided.
Case study used in this workshop:
Greta is a graduate student in Patrice’s lab. She has mentored before and she finds it rewarding. Currently, she supervises two undergraduate interns, Duy and Mateo. Each is working for free in Patrice’s lab for 9 months, and hope to get a strong letter of recommendation and some lab experience. Overall, it’s been going well, but Greta has a problem and she’s not sure what to do.
Mateo is intermittently late to the lab, even though the general rule set by Patrice is that people arrive by 9 am. It’s particularly noticeable on Tuesdays - lab meeting starts at 9am, but Mateo has been arriving in the lab at around 9:20 am. Greta feels embarrassed every time he comes in late, as she sees her PI furrow his brow as Mateo slips into the meeting.
Greta had had an expectation setting conversations with the interns when they began. She covered goals, and all lab expectations - including that everyone needs to be in the lab by 9am, and lab meeting is a requirement. In fact, when Duy started he had asked if there was any flexibility about coming in at 10am and staying late, because he felt more productive when he slept in. Greta had said no, and Duy had respected that.
The second time Mateo was late, Greta had spoken to him, and reset the expectation on arrival times. The third time she noticed it - two weeks later - she spoke with him again, and said that there could be consequences if this continued. Each time Mateo said that he understood, but the problem persisted. Greta wasn’t sure what the issue was. English wasn’t a first language for either of them, and she thought that might be contributing to the issue. Perhaps it was her - perhaps she had not been clear? Or perhaps it was just that Mateo didn’t respect her - why else would he ignore her request?
The fifth week, when Mateo slipped in late again, Greta thought she caught two lab members roll their eyes. She had had enough. That afternoon, she told Mateo that she didn’t think this was working out. Mateo quietly stammered an apology and admitted something new - his mother was sick and he was helping out by taking his sister to Oakland Elementary school. School drop off was at 8am, and BART was somewhat unreliable. The trains were often delayed, which meant that often missed his connection to the UCSF shuttle and found himself late.
Now Greta understands the issue with Mateo’s arrival, but what can she do - 9am arrivals is Patrice’s rule, not hers. Mateo couldn’t come in late, could he? She had already turned down Duy and didn’t want to be accused of showing favoritism. Greta keeps going over this situation in her head - this entire experience had stressed her out and affected her sleep. Maybe managing two people was too much. Greta also feels guilty, but if she is honest with herself, she secretly thinks that it’s easier supervising women because she thinks they are more communicative. After all - why didn’t Mateo tell her about these issues the several times she asked?'
What should Greta do?
Thursday, March 14th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mission Bay in Mission Hall room MH-1406. Lunch will be provided.
Case study used in this workshop:
Rob, a postdoc, is interested in a position at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution. He knows from reading the Academic Career Readiness Assessment (career.ucsf.edu/ACRA) that he should get research mentoring experience with undergraduates to be more competitive for these positions. Although his PI did not want him to “waste time” with an intern, she agreed on Rob’s assurance that it would not affect his productivity over time. Kelly was his favorite candidate: she really seemed to have a passion for science and Rob was excited when Kelly accepted the position. Rob wanted to be a good “mentor” so he decided to be patient with Kelly, and give her the time to learn the skills, and provide supportive feedback. For example, Kelly was not very efficient with her time in the lab, and Rob told Kelly that he would help her learn to be more efficient.
But being there longer Kelly did not help her be more efficient. Rob didn’t want to stress Kelly out by pointing out how inefficient she was every single time. Instead, he gave specific, detailed instructions on how to do things well. After a while, he started realizing he couldn’t really rely on Kelly’s help, because she was just too slow at doing experiments.
One day, in a meeting with his PI, he admitted to the issues he was facing with Kelly. He didn’t want it to sound too bad, but the PI immediately expressed worry that this was affecting Rob’s productivity. It was, in fact. The PI told him it was time to let Kelly go. Rob was not comfortable with that, but he felt he had to keep his promise to his PI of maintaining high productivity, so he agreed that they would tell Kelly together the following week. Rob tried to reassure himself by thinking that, by now, Kelly should have known that things were not going right.
You are Rob’s colleague, and he is coming to you a little shaken after this experience. It is important for Rob to continue mentoring interns because of his career goals. What should Rob learn from this situation? What should Rob do differently next time?
Thursday, February 28th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mission Bay in Genentech Hall S-261. Lunch will be provided.
Case study used in this workshop:
When Maria, a postdoc, received the reviews for her paper, she realized she had limited time to get the experiments done before the editor’s deadline. Her PI assigned Sara, his new lab technician, to take over Maria’s mouse colony genotyping for these experiments. He also encouraged Maria to have Sara work with her on two other projects over the next year. During Maria’s initial conversations with Sara, Sara conveyed a working knowledge of and some experience with PCR and displayed confidence with taking this project on. Maria gave Sara her protocols, showed her how to isolate DNA samples and how to perform PCR with 3 different primer sets she had already optimized. Later, Maria had Sara replicate some genotyping she had done, and Sara was able to obtain the same results.
While Maria was away at a conference, she asked Sara to update her via email on the genotyping results. Sara sent her new genotyping results, but when Maria returned to the lab, she saw that the genotyping gel images were too faint to interpret. It put the genotypes that Sara had sent her for a few of the mice into question. Maria can’t remember if she specifically gave feedback around band intensity, but she thinks that Sara should have known not to categorize these mice the way she did – after all, all of the band intensities were stronger when Sara replicated her genotyping.
Before lab meeting, Maria asked Sara, “What happened with the gel images?” Sara looked startled and said it was just an issue with the gel imager. Now Maria is having a hard time finding a time to connect with Sara to walk through the protocol again and troubleshoot the experiment. Maria thinks Sara is avoiding her: it feels like every time she does see Sara, she is running off to the mouse facility or out the door.
Maria is stressed; at night she can’t sleep because she keeps running the situation through her mind. Maybe she was too abrupt with Sara, though she thinks Sara may just be too fragile for any kind of critical feedback. Maria is worried about her deadline and starts thinking about ways she do the genotyping herself, because Sara doesn’t seem competent. But Maria also thinks that will significantly affect her ability to complete her experiments in the timeframe requested by her paper’s reviewers. Maybe she can ask for an extension?
What should Maria do now to correct the genotyping errors and get her experiments back on track?
Thursday, February 7th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mission Bay in Mission Hall 1400. Lunch will be provided.
Missed this session? Take our online tutorial to design your interview questions and assessment rubric!
Case study used in this workshop:
“Salma is a new PI who would like to bring in a new graduate student to her lab. She has some concerns on how she selects people for her lab because she recently ended up letting her last hire go, a lab tech named Maya, who really wasn't very responsible. Although Maya was a skilled technician at the bench, she was often careless, and had contaminated cell cultures, left refrigerator doors open, and frequently neglected to tell others affected or really apologize. Salma talked to Maya several times about her performance issues, but Maya really did not grasp the impact of her repeated mistakes on the lab and the situation didn't improve. Salma also found herself spending too much time dealing with the frustrations of others in the lab who were negatively impacted by Maya's mistakes. Salma feels she waited too long to address the issue and she found the termination process arduous and stressful; from now on, she is determined to only bring "responsible" people into her lab. This week, she is conducting follow up interviews with two students who rotated in her lab. Her goals are to assess their scientific ability, attention to detail, and their ability to work in a team, to woo the strongest candidate to join her lab - and of course, to find someone responsible. Salma scheduled an hour to prepare interview questions. What questions should Salma prepare for the interview to avoid the situation she faced with Maya?”
Case study used in this workshop:
“Four months ago, Sam, a postdoc, started working with Lee, a senior undergraduate volunteer who will be working with Sam for another 6 months on a project Sam is leading. Lee is very confident scientifically, and he performs experiments with care and precision. However, in several occurrences, Sam has noticed that Lee was confused about the goals of the experiments, and how they fit into the big picture of Sam’s project. Sam has tried explaining the goals of the projects again, and each time Lee seemed (again) very confident about what he thought he knew. This has happened repeatedly, and Sam is now worried that Lee is not realizing that he is limited in his understanding, and he is concerned that this will impact the future of the project. In addition, Lee has, on 2 or 3 occasions, not followed through on some of the experiments Sam had asked him to do. This is a problem for Sam, who doesn’t feel he can rely on Lee to produce the data he needs. He is starting to wonder if maybe Lee doesn’t respect him. Sam wishes he had had a say in who was chosen for this volunteer position. This makes Sam act a bit passive-aggressive with Lee, something that he doesn’t like about himself.
What could Sam do to improve the situation with Lee?”
Not a mentor yet? Get experience now!
No time to mentor? You can sign up here for opportunities (examples: doing informational interviews and guest lectures) and volunteer at the next CCSF Biosymposium at UCSF, Mission Bay (opportunities to do mock interviews, judge internship posters, and network with CCSF students).
Interested in mentoring a CCSF Intern? Interns are enrolled in the Bioscience Internship program at CCSF. Bioscience Interns are typically adults from diverse backgrounds (including some without any college degree) who are training for a career as a research assistant or laboratory technician, although a few plan to continue on to professional or graduate school. The CCSF Bioscience Internship program offers a highly structured and contextualized curriculum designed with three goals in mind (1) prepare students for their internship at UCSF and other bay area labs, (2) prepare students for employment in academia or in industry, (3) and support students to continue their science education to graduate with a biotechnology certificate, a 2-year degree or transfer to a 4-year institution.
Internships typically start in mid-January or mid-August and require a minimum 180 hours at their internship site (generally ending around May and December). Mentors select the intern of their choice through a formal interview process. Mentors need the approval of their PI to mentor an intern (internships are unpaid). In addition, mentors will be expected to mentor a CCSF Bioscience intern for 10 to 20 hours each week in their lab. Interns present a poster on their internship research at the end of the semester at the CCSF Biosymposium.
Not quite sure if you’re ready to be a mentor? The CCSF BioSymposium, a networking conference for CCSF Bioscience students and interns, takes place on the last Friday of each semester in the Genentech Atrium. This is a good opportunity to view scientific and career exploration posters done by CCSF Bioscience interns and students, learn more about the program and diverse population it serves. Additionally, there are opportunities to volunteer for mock interviews, poster judging, and leading networking lunch discussions. To find out more, email Karen Leung at [email protected].
Why is TRAIN-UP Applied important for a science career?
Developing mentoring, training and supervising skills will help you get started as a PI in an academic institution, or as a scientist in industry. Because students and technicians you will work within your new lab may come from very different backgrounds than you or your UCSF colleagues, it is important that you develop these skills early on, as a postdoctoral scholar. In addition, experience mentoring diverse students is particularly valued by teaching-intensive institutions, where faculty members are expected to provide undergraduate research (UR) experiences for students.
To find out more, contact Laurence Clement at [email protected]