The Science of Mentorship

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

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. read less
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Season 2

Season 1

Multiple Mentorships: Equipping Students For All Situations
Jan 28 2021
Multiple Mentorships: Equipping Students For All Situations
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 of her journey through STEMM academia and beyond as a woman from Japan. There were times she was discouraged from continuing her studies, but supportive mentors guided her through difficult situations with both emotional and technical support. Dr. Iwasaki shares about these experiences and how they shaped her approach to mentoring her own students in innovative ways. Dr. Akiko Iwasaki is a professor and researcher in immunology at the Yale School of Medicine. She has contributed significant research to the field of innate immunity against multiple viruses and cancer. She has won numerous awards and in 2018, was elected into the National Academy of Sciences. In 2019, Dr. Iwasaki was elected into the National Academy of Medicine.To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript
Mutual Benefits: Constructing Great Futures Together
Feb 4 2021
Mutual Benefits: Constructing Great Futures Together
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.                                                                                     In this episode, Dr. Jedidah Isler tells her story of how her career in astrophysics shaped her development and approach to mentorship. Through times of consistent support and in times where support lacked, Dr. Isler discovered what effective mentoring is. Dr. Isler shares about the obstacles marginalized students face in higher education, the different roles of mentors, and how effective and culturally responsive mentorship can expand what’s possible for marginalized students and STEM fields altogether. Astrophysicist Dr. Jedidah Isler studies hyperactive, supermassive black holes as an assistant professor at Dartmouth College. She is an award-winning scholar and speaker who works at the intersections of science and social justice. She is also the creator and founder of VanguardSTEM, an online platform and monthly series that focuses on women and non-binary people of color in STEM. She founded VanguardSTEM’s parent foundation, The STEM en Route to Change (SeRCH) Foundation, Inc., which uses social media to build community and resources for Black, Indigenous, Women and Non-Binary People of Color in STEM. Dr. Isler is also a co-author of the paper: Defining the Flow—Using an Intersectional Scientific Methodology to Construct a VanguardSTEM Hyperspace.To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript
Go Further: Guiding Discovery of Passions
Feb 11 2021
Go Further: Guiding Discovery of Passions
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 often the only African-American in the physics departments in which he worked and learned. In this episode, he tells his story of discovering his passion in physics and how effective mentors throughout his life supported him through what could’ve been insurmountable obstacles. Professor Gates also shares how important it is to actively seek mentors, the impact of culturally responsive mentoring, and what mentoring skills he uses most today. Professor Gates is known for his groundbreaking work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. In 1977, he received his Ph.D from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the only African American in his cohort, where he gave the first doctoral thesis to explore supersymmetry. In 2013, Dr. Gates was elected into the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama. To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript
Institutional Barriers: Implementing Effective Mentoring Practices
Feb 18 2021
Institutional Barriers: Implementing Effective Mentoring Practices
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 field. But when he became a professor, he initially struggled to effectively mentor his students. In this episode, Dr. Yamamoto shares key moments of how he learned what tendencies can damage mentoring experiences, the skills that contribute to positive mentorships, and how academic institutions can implement more successful mentoring practices. Dr. Keith Yamamoto is a professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco. He also serves as the vice chancellor for science policy and strategy, and as the director of precision medicine at UCSF. Dr. Yamamoto has worked on several national committees that focus on public and scientific policy. In 1990, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2003, he was elected into the National Academy of Medicine. To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript
Expectations: Acknowledging The Power We Hold
Feb 25 2021
Expectations: Acknowledging The Power We Hold
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 inclusive spaces for both students and faculty in higher education. In this episode, Dr. Clancy discusses the coercive power in STEMM ecosystems, how confirmation bias negatively affects mentoring, and what faculty and students can do to create more effective mentoring relationships. Dr. Kate Clancy is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. Her research focuses on intersectional feminist biology with specific focus on gender and racial harassment in science and the effects of environmental stressors on endometrial and ovarian dynamics. Dr. Clancy has given congressional testimony on sexual misconduct in the sciences, has consulted on two Congressional bills on sexual harassment in science, and has co-authored a National Academies report on sexual harassment of women in STEM. To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript
Workplaces: Developing A Culture Of Mentorship
Mar 4 2021
Workplaces: Developing A Culture Of Mentorship
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 in the space shuttle program. In this episode, Dr. Ochoa shares her story of how this culture of mentorship impacted her career, what she did to develop formal mentoring programs in NASA, and how professionals can be guided further when workplaces value and implement effective mentoring practices and tools like compacts. Dr. Ellen Ochoa is a distinguished astronaut and research engineer. She earned her PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Dr. Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to go to space and served as the director for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from 2013 to her retirement in 2018. She has been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, the California Hall of Fame, and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering. To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring. Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Transcript