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137. Tools for Finding a Research Mentor

There are two conflicting truths for many early-career graduate students:

  1. The mentor you choose is vitally important, and can impact your ability to complete a PhD and your career trajectory years into the future.
  2. Many students choose a mentor based on feelings, hunches, and hearsay.

Truth 1 should be self-evident by now. A mentor trains you, helps you develop a research program, and ultimately has a say in when and how you graduate.

Later, they will also write you letters of recommendation and speak with the search committee that may consider you for a faculty position.

Toxic mentor relationships have driven countless students away from science altogether, and healthy mentor relationships have acted as a springboard for fruitful research careers.

But what about Truth 2?

Given the importance of choosing a mentor, why do so many students ‘rely on their gut’ when making this life-altering decision?

This week, we talk with a scientist who has developed the tools and framework for making that choice more rigorous, and hopefully, more successful.

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136. Rebuilding an Inclusive Academia with Dr. Ashalla Freeman

As protesters march in the streets, you’ll hear calls to “Defund” or “Disband the Police.” These advocates argue that tweaks and training programs will never be enough to meaningfully alter the course of modern police departments, some of which can trace their origins to slave patrols in the South.

You simply can’t get there, from here, they say. We need to reimagine what we mean by ‘public safety’, and look for other ways to foster healthy communities.

That same revolutionary approach may sharpen our thinking on academic training at a University.

As we grapple with the way our society treats people of color, we can’t turn away from the advantages and obstacles enshrined by our educational system.

Indeed, access to education may be one of the many steps in our path to equality.

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135. The Science Training Toolbox with Dr. Andres De Los Reyes. Plus, Antiracism for Academia

Have you ever lamented the fact that there isn’t some kind of instruction book to help you navigate your scientific training?

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone explained how to choose a mentor, or what it means to give a ‘job talk?’ And is there any advice for how to deal with that negative peer-reviewer, or how to escape a sub-par PI?

Well, you’re in luck, because The Early Career Researcher’s Toolbox: Insights into Mentors, Peer Review, and Landing a Faculty Job by Andres De Los Reyes, PhD, is exactly the guide you’ve been looking for.

And this week, we get this clinical psychologist’s insight into why academic training is so stressful, and how you can overcome the major hurdles along the way.

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134. Lessons from the Quarantine

COVID-19 is a wildfire burning its way around the planet.

Its impacts are devastating to nearly every aspect of our modern lives: loved ones lost, economies destroyed, and plans put on hold indefinitely.

But like a fire, it’s also shedding light, illuminating the hidden corners of our society and our routines that we may not have taken the time to examine before.

When this fire eventually burns itself out, should we go back to living in the dark, or are there lessons we should learn? Are there torches we can carry beyond this trial to more permanently transform our work, our values, and our lives?

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