Faculty Mentoring Program

The success of junior faculty in establishing their careers is of utmost importance to the department. Therefore, all new faculty joining the department will be assigned a mentoring committee. This committee shall continue to provide support to junior faculty through their application for promotion and tenure.

Some research groups, e.g. the Center for Neuroscience, have very effective faculty mentoring plans. If a junior faculty member is aligned with such a unit, they can participate in the faculty mentoring plan of the unit or the Department of Biochemistry plan. Because the department performs teaching and service assignments as well as promotion and tenure evaluations, a departmental mentor may still be assigned to help with issues of career development as it relates to teaching and service.

"The major strength of our the mentoring program is it’s people, the participating faculty are incredibly enthusiastic to help in any way they can. Their collective insights into in navigating career issues has been invaluable to me. Having the input of the mentoring program was highly advantageous to my securing funding for the lab, and even at the federal level."
~ David M. Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
"The mentoring program of the Biochemistry Department has significantly helped me in the transition to my very first Faculty Position here at WVU. My mentors have been an invaluable source of advice on all sorts of matters, from tips to attract graduate students and hire the right lab personnel to, of course, grants. I also find that having two mentors from different research areas, each one with a unique perspective and expertise, has helped me better framing the scientific problems I want to address and also think of better approaches to develop the my research projects "
~ Roberta Leonardi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
"I very much appreciate my mentors help. I have benefited greatly from their comments, critiques and suggestions during my grants and papers preparation. Having extensive experience in reviewing grants at Study Sections and reviewing papers as journal ad hoc reviewers, they guided and fostered my writing and presentation skills. I wouldn't have succeeded without their help. I am grateful to them for providing me with an opportunity to meet with them at my request. I enjoy very open and friendly atmosphere in our engagements. I am honored to interact with them as my mentors, colleagues and friends".
~ Alexey Ivanov, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
"The Departmental mentoring program was the key to my success as an independent investigator and allowed me to secure NIH funding. The mentors were working with me on every aspect of my career including teaching, lab management and service at academic institution. Balancing research laboratory with growing responsibilities of new PI and faculty is not an easy task. Availability of truly caring, experienced and supporting senior faculty is absolutely critical. That is why I came to WVU Biochemistry Department. ".
~ Elena Pugacheva, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry

Purpose

The plan is designed to provide a mechanism for mentoring junior faculty members in three broad areas; 1) institutional policies and procedures (including promotion and tenure), 2) grant writing and 3) career development.

Mentors

The chair will assign two senior faculty members to serve as mentors to each junior faculty member. One mentor will be scientifically aligned to provide insight on scientific issues. The other mentor is not expected to be scientifically aligned and is expected to provide more general insight into faculty and career development. It is recognized that all possible mentors may not be a suitable match for all junior faculty members and mentors can be reassigned upon further discussion between the junior faculty member and the chair.

Schedule of Meetings

The junior faculty member shall meet with the mentors at least twice a year, more frequently if necessary, e.g. during intense grant writing periods. The junior faculty member is responsible for setting up these meetings with the faculty mentors. The agenda for each meeting is chosen by the junior faculty member. A list of potential topics is provided on the following pages.

Responsibilities of the Junior Faculty Member

The junior faculty member is responsible for arranging meetings with their faculty mentors twice a year and setting the agenda for the meetings. In addition, the junior faculty member must take the initiative to ask for further assistance from their mentors, e.g. regarding manuscript preparation, grant writing, obtaining examples of grant formats etc. The goal of the junior faculty member is to utilize the mentors to keep on track for institutional promotion/tenure and for development of their career.

Responsibilities of the Faculty Mentors

The mentors are responsible for meeting with the junior faculty member at least twice a year and providing advice to the junior faculty member to the best of their ability. The mentors’ goal is to provide guidance to the junior faculty member to keep them on track for promotion/tenure. If necessary, the mentors should recruit additional expertise, e.g. another faculty member for specific advice on grant writing.

Review of the Faculty Mentoring Plan

As different junior faculty will have different mentors, there is a need to monitor uniformity of mentoring. The chair will call an annual meeting of the mentors to discuss topics and issues addressed with each of the junior faculty members and any differences in advice reconciled. The chair will annually solicit the opinions of the mentors and junior faculty members about the positive and negative aspects of the operation of the faculty mentoring plan and recommend any changes to the plan to the faculty.

Potential Topics of Interest to Junior Faculty Members

Orientation Meeting

  • One-year goals
  • Five-year plan
  • Timing of first internal grant submission
  • Evaluation of publications and preliminary data
  • Timeline for external grant submissionsLab size goals

Building the Lab

  • Basics (lab keys, phones, networking, ID)
  • Ordering procedures
  • Furniture
  • Renovations
  • Hiring staff/procedures
  • Recruiting students

Regulatory Issues

  • IRB and human ethics training
  • ACUC approval and animal usage exams/tour
  • Biohazard approval

Teaching Assignments

  • Department-specific requirements
  • Appropriate teaching areas
  • Faculty Development series
  • Improving teaching skills

Committee Assignments

  • Departmental requirements
  • Search committees
  • Student committees
  • Administrative committees
  • National committees

Grant Submissions

  • Internal grant mechanisms
  • Internal review prior to submission-One major, several minor reviewers
  • External reviewer(s) in research area
  • Scheduling of grant writing
  • Works in progress to present specific aims
  • Grant writing seminars

Time Management

  • Log of one-week activities
  • Course for time management
  • Books on time management

Family Issues

  • If appropriate

Manuscript Writing

  • Organization of ideas for publication
  • Time management to get papers written
  • Appropriate journals for submission
  • Balance of numbers vs. impact
  • Relationship with former mentor

Keeping abreast of latest research in your field

  • PubMed searches
  • Email with former labmates
  • Contact with mentor
  • Inviting or meeting with speakers
  • Personal journal subscriptions, if necessary
  • Meeting attendance

National Exposure

  • Manuscript reviews
  • Grant review
  • Editorial boards
  • Invited seminars
  • Scientific meetings
  • Hosting seminar speakers in field
  • Writing review articles

Promotion and Tenure preparations

  • Meeting peers at other institutions for letters of recommendation (invitations early in career)
  • Preparation of file/format
  • Teaching evaluations
  • Service contributions
  • Documentation (of everything)