OOS 16-8 - The qualities and impacts of a great mentor

Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 4:00 PM
A107, Oregon Convention Center
Paul Grogan, Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada, Valerie T. Eviner, Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, Davis, CA and Sarah E. Hobbie, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN

Mentoring, like teaching, is a core activity for many scientists, and yet few of us have had any formal training in either.  Most of us plod along, subconsciously drawing on our own experiences of being mentored, and “learning by our mistakes”.  Formal reflections on the goals of mentoring, and how it can best be achieved are extraordinarily rare.  In this presentation we will formally reflect on Terry Chapin’s contributions as a mentor, and address the following questions:  What are the important qualities of a great mentor, and how can these be developed and sustained?  What are the scientific and societal impacts of good mentoring?


The presenters and contributors were all associated with the Chapin lab as graduates, undergraduates, post-doctoral fellows or technicians.  They have spent considerable time and effort reflecting on the process of science mentoring, and on the impacts that Terry’s mentoring has had on them as scientists, and as people.  We will present a synthesis of those reflections, and relate them to a recent analysis of science mentoring that highlighted the importance of a wide range of scientific, pedagogical, and interpersonal attributes.  For example, Terry has proven that one can be a very successful scientist while being generous with resources, ideas, and time to those around him. He is a role model in that he clearly has not been “ just out for himself”, but realized early on that he could make even greater contributions by promoting the careers of others, particularly junior scientists. Terry also has a particular knack for bringing people together and creating collaborations.  By reflecting on Terry’s contributions as a mentor, and how he has achieved them, we will highlight the critical qualities and societal values of good mentoring.  Our ultimate goal is to distill the essence of great mentoring so that, together with our audience, we can all improve our current mentoring practices.