How to keep the scientific-mentoring magic alive

Some researchers never lose touch with group leaders or committee members who mentored them as graduate students.

As Jen Heemstra, a chemistry professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, says of one early-career mentor: “I was absolutely terrified of them. They couldn’t even understand why because they’re a very kind and wonderful person.

“We’ll see each other now at conferences, we’ll be in the same town to be reviewing grants together, or whatever it is, and, and we’ll spend time together as friends. But they’re also someone I know I can go to if I need advice on something because they still, you know, have been in the field a lot longer than I have, and so they have a lot of wisdom to share.”

Martin Gargiulo, who teaches entrepreneurship at the INSEAD business school in Singapore, says that mentoring relationships are like parenthood:

“There is a point at which your children, your mentees, need to become independent from you and need to challenge you. And if you didn’t get to that point, you didn’t do your job. So building the relationship, letting go and rebuilding that relationship, perhaps under a different mindset, is important,” he says.


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