Mission & History

Mission

To improve the research mentoring relationships for mentees and mentors at all career stages through the development, implementation and study of evidence-based and culturally-responsive interventions.

The Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) will:

  • Facilitate research mentor and mentee training for mentees and mentors at all career stages
  • Develop and study new approaches and resources for advancing mentoring relationships
  • Promote cultural change that values excellence in research mentoring
  • Build a network of mentors, mentees, and those engaged in enhancing and studying research mentoring relationships
  • Advance diversity in the research enterprise
Collection of mentoring curricula
Two women looking over paperwork together

History

Development, Implementation Evaluation and Dissemination of Research Mentor and Mentee Training at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Through the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching (WPST), Drs. Christine Pfund and Jo Handelsman led an effort to train future biology faculty to become more effective research mentors. Cohorts of biology graduate students, postdocs and faculty/staff met to discuss mentoring challenges and solutions, generating case studies and discussion questions along the way. Following evaluation and revision, these discussion materials were published as Entering Mentoring, a manual to help others lead research mentor training seminars and workshops. Published evaluation of the Entering Mentoring seminars showed that mentors who participated in training were more likely to discuss expectations with their mentees, to consider issues of diversity and to seek the advice of their peers.

Through the Institute for Biology Education (IBE), Dr. Janet Branchaw led an effort to develop a parallel seminar to Entering Mentoring, entitled Entering Research. Over three years, teams of faculty/staff met weekly to design, implement and evaluate the impact of this undergraduate seminar. Published evaluation showed that students who participated in the seminar demonstrated statistically significant gains in their skills, knowledge and confidence as researchers compared to the control group.

A team from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Delta Program in Research, Teaching and Learning (Delta), in partnership with WPST and IBE adapted and enhanced the Entering Mentoring curriculum for use across STEM disciplines. Through a collaborative effort, a multidisciplinary team of UW–Madison faculty/staff from biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, psychology, and engineering developed nine different training curricula. These adapted curricula were tested at UW–Madison over three years. The curriculum also began to be offered as a synchronous, online course to mentors across the nation through the NSF-funded Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network.

Dr. Angela Byars-Winston led a study to develop a better understanding of specific factors in mentoring relationships that account for positive student outcomes. Data collected from summer undergraduate research program mentees at UW–Madison and their prefaculty mentors (trained and untrained groups) were analyzed to determine the factors in mentor training that contribute positively to the mentor-mentee relationship. This work has produced validated instruments for use in evaluating the effectiveness of mentoring relationships between diverse undergraduate mentees and their research mentors.

Through the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), Dr. Christine Pfund led a multi-institutional team in adapting the Entering Mentoring training materials for use with clinical and translational science award (CTSA) mentors. These adapted materials were implemented at 16 CTSA institutions across the country as part of a controlled, randomized trial. Using a newly developed Mentoring Competency Assessment (MCA) tool, this study demonstrated positive impact of research mentor training on both mentors and mentees.

Dr. Christine Sorkness led a team to develop a Web-based legacy resource to disseminate resources for mentors and mentees as well as the training curriculum within four subcategories: (1) clinical and translational research, (2) biomedical research, (3) clinical and behavioral research, and (4) community engaged research. The curricula originally placed on the legacy website now resides on this CIMER site.

A team in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research is adapting the Entering Research training materials for use with clinical and translational science mentees. These adapted materials will be implemented at several CTSA institutions across the country. A research project to test the impact of this research mentee training on both mentors and mentees is planned.

To meet the growing national demand for and promote dissemination of evidence-based approaches to improve mentoring relationships, intensive train-the-trainer workshops have been developed and tested at the 2013 and 2014 national meetings of the Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI, Madison), Society for Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists (SACNAS, San Antonio), the American Public Health Association (APHA, Boston), the Annual Biomedical Research Meeting for Minority Scholars (ABRCMS, Nashville), and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM, Boston).

Drs. Pfund and Branchaw, in collaboration with Dr. Christine Sorkness, were awarded 1 of 7 planning grants to develop a full proposal to establish a single National Research Mentoring Network to enhance the training and career development of individuals from diverse backgrounds, communities, and cultures who are pursuing biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research careers, through enhanced networking and mentorship experiences.

Drs. Byars-Winston and Pfund are leading a study to determine how mentors and mentees define cultural diversity awareness, how relevant it is to the mentoring relationship and how to train mentors to increase their awareness.  Dr. Branchaw is playing a critical role in developing, implementing and testing the training intervention.

Dr. Pfund is one of 5 PIs awarded a grant to establish a nationwide consortium to enhance the training and career development of individuals from diverse backgrounds, communities, and cultures who are pursuing biomedical research careers, through enhanced networking and mentorship experiences. UW–Madison serves as the national hub for mentor and mentee training in the biomedical sciences through the NRMN Mentor Training Core, which is directed by Dr. Pfund.

A UW–Madison team, led by Dr. Pfund establishes the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) with support from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and begin the work of expanding efforts to implement and investigate ways to improve research mentoring relationships in higher education settings.