Timetable and Process

Assignment of Faculty Mentors

The director, in consultation with research focus directors and department chairs, makes the initial assignment of a mentee to a mentor. Request of a mentor by the mentee will be strongly considered in making this assignment. Mentors are chosen from extramurally funded investigators within the neuroscience research community, so that mentors will better understand the professional challenges of mentees and provide more meaningful career and scientific advice. Pairing of individuals must have the agreement of both the mentor and mentee.

The First Six Months

  1. Objectives of Initial Meetings Between Mentors and Junior Faculty
    1. Set one-year and five-year goals for the scientific program
    2. Determine a five-year time line to establish these projects and pursue funding
      • Discuss timing for submission of initial NIH or K-series (for clinician investigators) grant
    3. Consider the eventual number of personnel required to sustain the desired size of the mentee's research program
      • Review procedures for hiring technical personnel
      • Discuss how to structure laboratory rotations to attract graduate students
      • Evaluate publications to date and evaluate initial experimental plan for the new laboratory
  2. Additional Topics
    1. Regulatory Issues: Review IRB, ACUC, Biohazard protocol approvals
    2. Grant Review Prior to NIH Submission (Internal vetting of initial proposal is required)
      • Determine internal reviewers: one major, 1-3 minor reviewers; major reviewer need not be but typically is the mentor. This committee should meet at least six times to discuss scientific ideas (initial meetings) and finalize specific aims, then at later meetings provide detailed stylistic critique of the application.
      • Identify at least one external reviewer
      • Schedule deadlines to avoid last minute effort and sufficient time for external reviewer
      • Schedule at least one Works in Progress presentation at least 3 months prior to grant deadline
      • Discuss relationship/competition with previous scientific mentor
    3. Review strategies to keep abreast of the latest research in the mentee's field (examples listed):
      • PubMed searches and library visits
      • e-mail with former lab mates and contact with scientific mentor
      • Personal journal subscriptions
      • Attendance at meetings. The mentee should be made aware that sometimes it is better to meet deadlines for lab setup or grant submission during the first year rather than attend all professional meetings in which they typically participate.
    4. Teaching Assignments
    • Review department and program-specific requirements
    • Review appropriate teaching topics and relevance of faculty development program offerings to improve ability and make preparation more efficient
  3. Committee Work (As guidelines, we have established these categories of committees, in decreasing order of importance for junior faculty)
    • Graduate student committees, departmental research committees, and search committees all provide important insights into the development of research programs, and are appropriate in good measure even for new faculty.
    • Departmental and center retreats, if constructively planned, represent annual activities that are important to the research careers of all faculty. These events provide networking opportunities, often with invited speakers from outside the university.
    • Curriculum planning committees and strategic planning committees, admissions committees, institutional review committees, and other committees requiring extensive time commitments, should be the responsibility of established faculty. The topics under discussion typically require multiple meetings to resolve, and can absorb considerable amounts of a junior investigator’s time.
    • Continuing to build the laboratory after technician, student recruitment
    • Review time management strategies
    • Keep an honest log of their activities for one week and discuss with mentors some of the challenges to efficient use of time. Allocation of time to consider the larger directions of their work, and not fall into patterns of short term immediacy to satisfy deadlines, should be explored.
    • Manuscript writing
      • Organization of ideas for initial publication from new lab
      • Time management for efficient manuscript writing
      • Selection of appropriate journals to submit work
      • Evaluate competition with scientific mentor
    • The mentee should feel free to discuss particular challenges in balancing their personal and professional lives, and develop strategies that address these issues to permit career building.
    • Gaining national exposure
      • Mentors should encourage junior faculty to seize opportunities for manuscript and grant reviewing.
      • Presentation at appropriate national, international scientific meetings
      • Hosting seminar speakers and meeting with other speakers, including dinners, should be encouraged
      • Recruitment of postdoctoral fellows: expanding the laboratory
    • Mentors should make sure that mentees network with visiting faculty, participate in dinners with these guests, and present work at national or international meetings. The mentors can advise about when such activities are excessive and detract from the fundamental objective of completing and publishing research projects.

Through Promotion and Tenure

The following list provides a brief summary of the evaluation criteria for promotion and tenure and the activities of the junior faculty member to compile their personnel file. The junior faculty member should review together the guidelines for promotion and tenure on an annual basis, because these may change subtly from year to year.

  • Promotion and Tenure Preparation
    • Knowing scientists at peer institutions from whom letters of recommendation can be requested
    • Preparation of file
    • Teaching evaluations
    • Service contributions
    • Documentation (of everything)
  • National and International exposure (examples of relevant experiences):
    • Manuscript reviews
    • Grant reviews
    • Editorial boards
    • Invited seminars
    • Scientific meetings
    • Hosting seminar speakers in field

The Mentee becomes a Mentor

After passing through promotion to Associate Professor, the mentee will have gained sufficient experience to serve as a mentor for junior faculty members, the secret handshake is given, and the mentee is then matched with a junior faculty member.