The Science of Mentorship

The Science of Mentorship

Mentorship is essential to the development of anyone in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or medicine, but did you know mentorship is a set of skills that can be learned, practiced, and optimized? In this 10-part series from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, you’ll hear the personal mentorship stories of leaders in academia, business, and the media, in their own words. Learn how evidence-based mentorship practices can help you develop the skills to engage in the most effective STEMM mentoring relationships possible. If you are a mentor, a mentee, or have a role in mentorship, this podcast is for you.

Episodes

January 5, 2021 2 min

Welcome to The Science of Mentorship, a 10-episode podcast from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that introduces you to the evidence-based practices for effective mentoring told through the personal stories of leaders in science, tech, math, engineering, and medicine.

You'll hear from notables like iconic physicist Dr. Jim Gates, groundbreaking physician Dr. Vivian Pinn, advocate mathematician Dr. R...

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In STEMM fields, students and professionals from marginalized populations often feel misunderstood or isolated because their identities differ from their peers. Biomedical engineer Dr. Gilda Barabino often found herself taking roles in which she was the first and only African American woman in her position. At times, it was very isolating. 


In this episode, Dr. Barabino shares how she responded to a lack of mentorship, where she fou...

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Research shows that even if marginalized students earn bachelor's degrees, they’re still less likely to receive mentoring or be retained in STEMM careers. Chemistry professor Dr. Michael Summers found himself in a position to provide effective mentoring to his students from marginalized backgrounds to guide them both in the classroom and beyond. 


In this episode, Dr. Michael Summers shares how positive mentoring experiences led ...

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Academia can be a toxic environment, especially for women and other marginalized students. Dr. Akiko Iwasaki experienced this reality both in her studies and after she earned her Ph.D. However, research shows that women and marginalized students can better integrate into academic communities when they have positive mentoring experiences, and often, multiple mentoring relationships. 


In this episode, Dr. Akiko Iwasaki tells the story...

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The most effective mentoring relationships happen when the relationship is mutually beneficial to all parties. Dr. Jedidah Isler found this as she gave and received significant support at historically black universities, and when she lacked support at predominantly white institutions. As she earned degrees in these different environments, she discovered mentoring is a necessary skill, as is knowing what you need as a mentee.       ...

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February 11, 2021 19 min

Entering the academic ecosystem can be especially daunting for students with underrepresented identities. These students can face a different set of obstacles when making decisions on higher education and careers. Dr. Jim Gates faced this reality on his path to becoming a physicist. Looking back on his journey, Professor Gates understands that he couldn’t pursue his dreams without support. 


Theoretical physicist Dr. Jim Gates was of...

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Students’ mentoring experiences are shaped by the mentorship skills of their mentors.  However, if academic institutions lack commitment to implementing successful mentoring practices, faculty members often struggle to support their mentees. 


Biochemist Dr. Keith Yamamoto had positive mentoring experiences during his undergraduate and graduate careers where his mentors consistently guided and helped him develop independence in the f...

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In academic institutions, faculty hold power over their students. However, this power often goes unacknowledged. Dr. Kate Clancy found that students can experience negative mentoring experiences when there is a lack of expectations set on faculty and coercive power goes unchecked.


Biological anthropologist Dr. Kate Clancy shares her experience of observing gaps within the mentoring ecosystem, then taking action to create more inclus...

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To create lasting improvements in mentorship, it’s necessary for institutions to develop a culture that supports and values effective mentoring. This is applicable, not only for college and universities, but for STEMM workplaces. 


Astronaut and engineer Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to go to space. When she first joined NASA, Dr. Ochoa discovered a culture that recognized the value of effective mentoring for everyone ...

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March 11, 2021 18 min

Medical school is a challenging journey. It’s especially daunting if no one at your institution supports you or if people actively discourage you from pursuing your goals. 


When pathologist Dr. Vivian Pinn started medical school, she was passionate to learn medicine. But often, as the only African American woman in a world dominated by white men, she experienced pushback to her presence. In this episode, Dr. Pinn shares her story of...

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Mentors may not always realize that students perceive them as role models. Yet, mentees pay attention to their mentor’s behavior, attitudes, and accomplishments. Mentees can envision themselves as successful in their chosen STEMM career when they see positive role models succeeding in the same field, particularly role models with similar values or a similar background. 


Mathematician Dr. Juan Meza initially experienced a lack of eff...

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September 22, 2021 16 min

We all want to discover the passion that drives our dreams. Often, we need help to find it. In STEMM careers, students need mentors, sometimes multiple mentors, to support them as they find their way and choose their career and academic paths.

In this first episode of Season Two, host Bethany Brookshire takes us through the experiences of undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. These students share stories of what qual...

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September 29, 2021 16 min

New mentoring relationships can be intimidating. Mentees may not know what to expect of their mentors, or what the goal of the mentoring relationship is. 


For mentoring relationships to be mutually beneficial, both mentees and mentors must establish expectations and boundaries. This is a skill that can take some practice, but helps students reach their full potential in STEMM. In this episode, students share their stories of when th...

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For many students in STEMM, family life is a top priority. However, some students have found tension when it comes to balancing family life and their STEMM careers, from both faculty and colleagues.  


For mentoring relationships to be effective, mentors must acknowledge students as whole people with priorities, responsibilities, and important personal decisions that exist outside of STEMM. In this episode, we hear from students who ...

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October 13, 2021 21 min

Some students quickly trust their mentors. Others are hesitant to be vulnerable with them. And some students encounter barriers that disallow them to trust their mentors at all. 


Building trust may sometimes be easy, or it may be awkward, depending on the relationship. But there’s a reason why trust is critical to an effective mentoring relationship. In this episode,  students share how they were able to build trust with certain men...

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Mentees must rely on someone with more experience and power to support them through their STEMM career. Sometimes, conflict happens. And it can have a massive impact on both mentees and mentors. 


Negative mentoring experiences in STEMM happen, and they can leave students and professionals feeling stuck and confused. In this episode, students and postdocs share their stories of what circumstances led to negative encounters with their...

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