Advising Philosophy: Expectations and Responsibilities

- Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD

Guiding principles

I believe mentoring is an intellectual partnership rather than one person directing the other. My mentees are invited into the lab to co-create projects with me. Mentees have the opportunity to be integrated into a phenomenal team that complements and supports them. In turn, they bring their unique background and ways of looking at the challenges of our research. My expectation is that they leave the team better for their having been a part of it.

Research Expectations

  • Research is co-creation, co-education, and based in team science.
  • Mentees are expected to develop and present a research proposal with real-world application based on their review of the literature and consultation with myself and other mentors. The ideal project falls at the intersection of their talents, passions, and lab objectives. This proposal should include a projected timeline, as well as contingency plans in case research does not proceed as planned.
  • Mentees are responsible for completing all required training and maintaining a complete and detailed laboratory notebook (provided by and belonging to the laboratory and University). Accuracy and attention to detail are critical.
  • Mentees are expected to become an integral part of the laboratory, to learn new technologies, to help train others, and to participate in the maintenance and upkeep of the laboratory facility and equipment.
  • Collaboration inside the lab and beyond is strongly encouraged.

Reading

Mentees will receive personalized reading recommendations, as well as standards of the profession like:
Advice to a Young Scientist, Peter B. Medawar
Letters to a Young Scientist, Edward O. Wilson
Advice for a Young Investigator, Santiago Ramón y Cajal
The Laws of Medicine, Siddhartha Mukharjee
How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, Paul J. Silvia
Write It Up: Practical Strategies for Writing and Publishing Journal Articles, Paul J. Silvia
Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters, Harold Evans
I ask mentees to read and educate themselves widely outside the laboratory (in scientific, philosophical, and other areas) and to bring this knowledge back to the group and to their work.

Writing

Learning to report the results of research is a critical skill for success, as is writing applications for funding. I will work individually with each mentee to help them advance their professional writing skills.

Commitment

  • I will support you and advise you in your academic, research, and professional life and help you define and achieve your goals.
  • I expect you to commit to the work of the laboratory, attend meetings, and prepare for our regularly scheduled 1:1 sessions.
  • I expect you to take advantage of the learning environment of the University by attending lectures and research conferences.
  • This is an intense part of your training. I expect you to need time to take care of personal issues and to ensure your wellbeing (physical and otherwise) beyond your life as a student.
  • I am here to help you however I can. You are always free to come to me with concerns, personal, professional, or workplace-related.

Professional conduct

The highest ethical standards are required in all research and/or scholarly work. This includes care of animals, originality of work, and sharing of credit.
There is zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, or sexual misconduct.