Tips for budding scholars
Mentorship is a collaborative effort, says Greg Funk, University of Alberta professor of physiology and member of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute and Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.
Recipient of the 2018 Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Funk shares insights for learners looking to build a better relationship with an academic mentor.
Trainees need to take ownership over their research as soon as possible, says Funk. “Ownership is highly motivating―it gets them personally invested in the science and fosters curiosity so they start asking their own questions.”
“Trainees are in the laboratory to acquire a set of skills—hard and soft—necessary for transition to independence,” says Funk. “Your mentor is not an adversary; your success is also your mentor’s so, in the vast majority of cases, they will be your strongest lifelong advocate!”
Set fear aside
“A common fear is the statistic that only 15 to 18 per cent of PhDs are going to get a faculty position, which terrifies people,” says Funk. “But that's based on the supposition that it used to be 100 per cent, which it was not. Thirty years ago, the rate was about 25 per cent, so it's lower, but it's not like it has dropped from 100 to 15 per cent.
“It's still a challenge, but there are great opportunities out there. Every trainee from my lab who wanted a tenure track position now has one, so enjoy your graduate career because if it's done right, it can be spectacular.”
Full story: Illuminating the path to research success