Faculty Mentor Training Program Strengthens University’s Institutional Climate

Faculty Mentor Training Program Strengthens University’s Institutional Climate
A pioneering program at UC San Diego Health Sciences serves as a successful model for medical schools looking to improve faculty diversity and success

January 11, 2022  |  Nicole Mlynaryk, Bigelow Science Communication Fellow

Read the full article about CIMER’s work with UCSD here.

Upcoming career development webinar with Drs. Christine Pfund and Ruth Gotian

Picture and title of upcoming webinarJoin Drs. Christine Pfund and Ruth Gotian on “Re-Examining Your Mentoring Relationship in the Current Moment” webinar!

The webinar is a new new career development webinar series hosted by NRMN. Drs. Chris Pfund and Ruth Gotian will speak about the process of reevaluating these relationships to determine which direction you need to take. The webinar will occur on September 13 at 11 am CST 

You can register for this webinar by following this link. 

Introducing the Science of Mentorship Podcast

Article from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Science of Mentorship Podcast artworkWe’re excited to announce the release of The Science of Mentorship, a new podcast from the Board on Higher Education and Workforce of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

This 10-part series explores how students in STEMM can discover more of their potential when they have responsive and effective mentors, told through the personal stories of top researchers in the United States.

Leaders like physicist Dr. Jim Gates and pathologist and former CWSEM member Dr. Vivian Pinn will share their experiences with mentorship throughout their careers. Whether positive or negative, each story focuses on mentorship skills that can and should be learned so all students’ potential can be unleashed to advance in STEMM.

The first episode, featuring the incoming Chair of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Dr. Gilda Barabino, will be out on January 14.

WCER Improving Mentoring Relationships for Next Generation of Academic Science Leaders


December 7, 2020   |   By Karen Rivedal, WCER Communications

WCER mentor training is helping a growing group of top science PhD students from diverse backgrounds become academic leaders.
WCER mentor training is helping a growing group of top science PhD students from diverse backgrounds become academic leaders.

WCER mentor training is helping a growing group of top science PhD students from diverse backgrounds become academic leaders.

In the development of future academic scientists, few individuals are more central to success than good mentors.

Mentors can help students navigate different career paths and grow their professional networks. They can be advocates, teachers, sounding boards, motivators, supporters and role models.

But what if mentors and their advisees don’t share the same racial, ethnic, cultural or socio-economic backgrounds? How can differences impact their relationship?

Mentorship education experts at UW−Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research, part of the School of Education, are striving to answer these questions, while they help build more inclusive lab environments across the country and increase diversity in the next generation of university-based science leaders through mentorship education.

Since 2016, WCER researchers Christine Pfund and Angela Byars-Winston have been improving the mentoring relationships between a large and growing group of the nation’s top PhD students in the sciences and their dissertation advisers. The students, all from diverse backgrounds historically underrepresented in the sciences, and their advisers are dual awardees and participants in the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study, a research-supporting program of the renowned Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Christine Pfund, Ph.D., & John Beacom, Ph.D. to Facilitate Keynote at the National Postdoc Appreciation Week

Join us for 2020 National Postdoc Appreciation Week

The NPA is pleased to announce the 11th annual celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW): September 21-25, 2020! Graphic and logo of National Post Doc week

With challenges, comes innovation. We are excited to announce a multi-institutional collaboration resulting in the first virtual NPAW celebration!

Events include a keynote facilitated by the NPA with speakers, John Beacom, Ph.D., and Christine Pfund, Ph.D., discussing best practices for mentorship; virtual networking; and, workshops hosted by the National Research Mentoring Network and The Postdoc Academy. Here is a list of events open to postdocs across the nation.

A Skill That Can Be Learned How training helps enhance faculty mentoring.

By Kathrine Havrilla

In January 2020, faculty from across the Harvard community were invited to attend Research Mentor Training workshops presented by Christine Pfund, director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The workshops—held on both the Cambridge and Longwood campuses—gave Harvard faculty a chance to learn about the scholarship around effective mentorship and to engage in skills-based activities with their colleagues and mentoring experts.

“CIMER came to be by our perceived need for a national entity that would be a go-to place for institutions and organizations looking to optimize their mentoring relationships,” says Pfund. “That included a place where folks could come for evidence-based mentor/mentee training across stages and disciplines, and a centralized data pool for the national conversation around the science of mentorship.”

Pfund has visited Harvard three times now to present about how to learn and grow faculty-student mentorship; she was invited for the first time in 2019 by the Department of Government in collaboration with GSAS, and then again that year by Grace Gill, director of Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) to facilitate daylong workshops for faculty.

“Mentoring workshops have a deep history in the life sciences, and there’s a lot of research and data in these disciplines that shows that mentorship training works—both for advisors and advisees,” says Gill. “The push to have these kinds of workshops here on campus actually came from the HILS students—they wanted more training for faculty and for them to have a better understanding of students’ mental health issues, and CIMER was the perfect fit.”

For Reba Rosenberg, who had recently come on board at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as the inaugural director of The Advising Project, the HILS/CIMER collaboration was serendipitous.

“I was just starting to research what GSAS was already doing regarding mentorship when I came across Grace’s CIMER brochure on the bookshelf next to my desk, and I was excited to learn more,” says Rosenberg.

“In Learning You Will Teach, and in Teaching You Will Learn”

During the CIMER Research Mentor Training workshops, more than two dozen faculty from across Harvard attended, many of whom were senior faculty with many years of both academic and mentoring experience. 

Grace Gill

Grace Gill is the director of Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS).

“We saw this not as a lecture, but as a time to discuss mentorship challenges that most of these faculty have seen throughout their time as educators, and to give them the opportunity to think about them in-depth—and not in a time of crisis,” said Gill. “Many of our faculty really care about advising and put a lot of energy into it, but they don’t have the time or space to develop their practice in a meaningful way. These CIMER events gave them that chance.” 

Sometimes, improving a mentoring relationship can be as easy as adding in a little empathy.

“Something as simple as starting a session with your mentee with ‘How are you?’ instead of ‘What have you accomplished?’ sets a completely different tone for the meeting,” says Rosenberg. “You don’t have to become a totally different person to be a better mentor, as simply showing genuine care and engagement go a long way toward inspiring trust and confidence in a student.”

The faculty response to the CIMER workshop was highly positive: Post-event surveys reflect that faculty felt that not only was the workshop worth their time, but that they would change their mentoring practices in some way because of it.

Rosalind “Roz” Segal, professor of neurobiology and dean for graduate education at Harvard Medical School, attended the CIMER event both for her own mentoring practice and to prepare to help educate faculty in the future.

“I found that the training was helpful for me as I direct a lab, and also provided great guidelines for new faculty who are learning to manage and mentor a group of trainees,” says Segal.

For Kayla Davis, a PhD student in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Segal’s participation in the CIMER event had an immediate impact on their advising relationship.

“Roz is the chair of my dissertation advisory committee, and I get together with my group once every six months or so to discuss my research and how I’m doing on my path to graduation,” explains Davis. “But at my most recent meeting, Roz—having just taken the CIMER workshop—asked me what I was doing outside of my research to prepare for life beyond Harvard.”

That simple change had a powerful effect on Davis. “It was so validating to talk about other things that aren’t often recognized in that space, or with certain advisors or committees. That conversation had a big impact on me, because my graduate experience is quite a bit bigger than my thesis research.”

For Segal, her attendance at the CIMER event was highly useful, especially in thinking critically about how a mentor can respond to different situations, and the repercussions of what one says versus what a mentee might hear. 

“There’s this myth that faculty can’t be trained to be better mentors; to me, that’s like saying that some people are good at public speaking, and others just aren’t,” says Segal. “Yes, some people are better at mentoring naturally, but it is a skill set that can be grown—no matter what discipline you come from.”

Research that Transcends Disciplines

The CIMER event in January had marked Pfund’s first public workshop since the release of “The Science of Effective Mentorship in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Mathematics (STEMM)” report in October 2019 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Pfund served on the committee for the report.

Reba Rosenberg

Reba Rosenberg is the director of The Advising Project

“This is one of the most heavily referenced reports NASEM has ever produced, and it does an excellent job of increasing visibility on mentorship,” says Pfund. “Folks in the industry knew it was an important topic, but Harvard was ahead of the game in beginning to address their own mentorship on campus before the report even came out.”

Throughout her two years on the NASEM committee for the report, Pfund says that the biggest takeaways are:

  • The clear evidence that an effective mentoring relationship leads to greater student successes and productivity in a number of measurable ways, and 
  • Both faculty and students can improve their mentorship skills through mentorship education and a proactive outlook.

“The NASEM report comes right out and says that mentorship is a skill that can be taught,” says Pfund. “Some people have natural abilities, but it’s a talent that can be practiced. Mentoring is a working alliance between mentor and mentee, and all of the standard relationship practices apply. Are we speaking the same language? Are we moving toward a common goal? Healthy mentoring relationships can have broader impacts than you know.”

And, while this particular NASEM report is focused on mentoring in the sciences, technology, and medical fields, the results are highly translatable to other disciplines.

“Many of the core concepts and findings ring true, no matter what academic field you come from,” says Pfund. “Effective communication and aligning expectations are discipline-agnostic—what’s more important is how those models look within the context of different academic areas and relationships.” 

The Future of Mentorship at GSAS

The goal of these CIMER collaborations is not to move GSAS faculty to adopt a single advising model and become more homogenous—quite the opposite.

“The idea is to build the strengths within each member of our faculty community by helping them understand and become accustomed to some best practices in student mentoring,” says Rosenberg. “We’re also encouraging faculty to share their mentorship experience and practices so we can help each other grow in the future and improve Harvard’s community as a whole.”

Some Key Recommendations from “The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM”

  • Use an evidenced-based approach to support mentorship
  • Establish and use structured feedback systems to improve mentorship at all levels
  • Recognize and respond to identities in mentorship
  • Reward effective mentorship
  • Mitigate negative mentorship experiences

View the report’s interactive guide to learn more.

Outcomes of Positive Mentorship

  • Graduate students are more likely to persist in their academic decisions if engaged in positive mentoring experiences
  • Positive mentoring experiences increase recruitment of underrepresented mentees into graduate school and research-related career paths
  • Women and underrepresented students are better integrated into the STEMM academic community if engaged in positive mentoring experiences
  • Mentored graduate students and medical trainees are more likely to publish their research than those who are not mentored

The UI Journal Presents: The Use and Impact of NIH-fueled Resources for Mentoring— Reports from the Field

Recently, CIMER Executive Director Christine Pfund and WISCIENCE Director Janet Branchaw were chosen to be special editors in a special issue of the Understanding Interventions journal. In addition, a number of CIMER staff members and affiliates have articles featured in this special issue.  

See below for more information about this special issue of Understanding Interventions Journal.

The UI Journal Presents

In August 2019, the Special Issue editors elicited our interest in publishing a series of papers from the NIH Diversity Consortium. Specifically, the papers would report results from the implementation of various research mentor and/or mentee training interventions at BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) institutions using resources from the first phase of NRMN (National Research Mentoring Network). 

We are very pleased to present this Special Issue, The Use and Impact of NIH-fueled Resources for Mentoring— Reports from the Field, consisting of seven papers plus an Introduction from NIGMS and an Overview by the Special Issue editors. We believe this collection reflects state-of-the-art lessons for the UI community.  We also welcome suggestions of topics for other special issues.

All papers were subjected to a two-stage review process, the first overseen by the Special Issue editors, the second by UI Journal reviewers. We are indebted to all the reviewers who shouldered several submissions and revisions— Clifton Poodry, Frances Carter Johnson, John Matsui, Richard McGee, Mona Trempe, Angela Ebreo, and Chantel Fuqua. As always, the technical assistance of Shanta A. Outlaw is appreciated.

With many thanks,

Daryl E. Chubin, Editor & Anthony L. DePass, Publisher

The Use and Impact of NIH-fueled Resources for Mentoring— Reports from the Field


The Diversity Program Consortium Mentor Training 
Mercedes Rubio and Alison Gammie, NIGMS, NIH

Interventions to Optimize Mentoring Relationships for Diverse Biomedical Researchers 
Janet Branchaw, Lourdes Guerrero & Christine Pfund, Special Issue Editors

The NRMN Master Facilitators Initiative: Building a Community of Practice to Broaden Program Implementation
Stephanie C House, Melissa McDaniels, Kimberly C. Spencer, Emily Utzerath, & Christine Pfund

Investigating a Multiple Mentor Model in Research Training for Undergraduates Traditionally Underrepresented in Biomedical Sciences 
Thomas E. Keller & Jennifer Lindwall   

Near-peer Mentoring in an Undergraduate Research Training Program at a Large Master’s Comprehensive Institution: The Case of CSULB BUILD
Sewwandi U Abeywardana, Sarah Velasco, Nancy Hall, Jesse Dillon, & Chi-Ah Chun

How much is enough? The Impact of Training Dosage and Previous Mentoring Experience on the Effectiveness of a Research Mentor Training Intervention
Jenna Rogers, Janet Branchaw, Anne Marie Weber-Main, Kimberly Spencer, & Christine Pfund

BUILD Peer Mentor Training Model: Developing a Structured Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Training for Biomedical Undergraduate Researchers
Danielle X. Morales, Amy E. Wagler, & Angelica Monarrez

The BUILD Mentor Community at CSULB: A Mentor Training Program Designed to Enhance Mentoring Skills in Experienced Mentors
Kelly A. Young   &  Kaitlyn N. Stormes

Introduction to Research: A Scalable, Online Badge Implemented in Conjunction with a Classroom-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) that Promotes Students Matriculation into Mentored Undergraduate Research  
Laura E. Ott, Surbhi Godsay, Kathleen Stolle-McAllister, Caitlin Kowalewski, Kenneth I. Maton, & William R. LaCourse