FoR Chicago 2019: Mentoring Future Scientists


The importance that departments and institutions attach to supporting good mentorship, and providing mechanisms for accountability and addressing poor mentorship, have become an issue of intense scrutiny for early career researchers. Future of Research is organizing a meeting on June 14th 2019, dedicated to greater prioritization of mentoring practices in departments and at institutions.


About the meeting

We propose that a lack of focus on mentoring is partly responsible for preventing ECRs from reaching their full potential. Therefore, we are pushing for greater transparency for ECRs regarding mentoring efforts, and greater attention to mentoring standards by departments and institutions.

The short-term outcome for our meeting is to develop an agreed set of guidelines and to get a commitment from participating departments to adopt them.


What is the meeting aiming to do?

  1. Develop a set of guidelines across various departmental mentoring climate domains with three excellence tiers: bronze, silver, and gold, to be used as an assessment tool by both departmental leaders wishing to commit to actionable improvement, and by early career researchers and faculty wishing to advocate for and drive this change themselves.
  2. Enlist a number of departments signing their support for said guidelines and their department’s commitment to review and implement guidelines, beginning with the most basic mutually agreed short-term actions.

The guidelines, divided into domains and excellence tiers, alongside list of departmental signatories, will be publicly hosted on the Future of Research website. Individual departments can display the guidelines, and their commitment to the various excellence tiers across domains, on their own websites and promotional material.

To achieve this, the meeting will consist of a series of workshops with participants at a central location in Chicago, and remotely at satellite meetings. They will focus on:

  1. The necessary mentoring climate domains to be included in the guidelines.
  2. The feasibility of implementation of excellence tiers to allow for ease of departmental buy-in and implementation, while simultaneously driving improvement.

The sharing of innovative practices, resources, and strategies currently available for departments, junior faculty, and ECRs should help both shape these conversations and set the feasibility and value of the excellence tiers.


How can you participate remotely?

We have satellite meetings organized already and are still looking for help in hosting satellite meetings around the country – all you need is a room with a projector, and access to the internet! We will be able to stream the talks and workshops to facilitate remote participation in the meeting and will work collaboratively with remote locations on the product as it develops. Please see our satellite meetings guide: Mentoring satellites.

Satellite meetings are currently being held at:

      • University of Michigan
      • University of Wisconsin-Madison – register here
      • The Ohio State University – register here
      • University of California Berkeley – register here
      • University of California Irvine – register here
      • Boston University – register here
        • FoR Advisory Board member Dr. Joanne Kamens from Addgene will be at the Boston satellite to facilitate along with FoR BoD member Dr. Cara Weismann.

Meeting Schedule

June 14th, 2019

9:00 – 9:20 Opening remarks to frame need, background, and desired goals

Gary McDowell, FoR and Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage

9:30 – 10:45 Framing Big Picture Needs, and Areas for Improvement

Early Career Researchers:

Dr. Susanna Harris,  The PhDepression LLC (


Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage

11:00 – 11:30 Reconvene for discussion of outcomes from ECR, Departmental, and Satellite workshops

11:30 – 12:00 Keynote Presentation

Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research Mentoring, Graduate School and Postdoctoral Office, Michigan State University; Investigator, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research; Co-Director, Master Facilitator Initiative, National Research Mentoring Network


1:20 – 2:30 Defining Excellence Tiers for Various Mentoring Domains

Dr. Danika Khong and Dr. Elizabeth Wu, Scismic

2:30 – 3:30 Reconvene as a large group for discussion