Biomedical Sciences Professor Jozsef Vigh with Graduate School Professor Colleen Webb.
Jozsef Vigh recently became the director of the Graduate Center for Inclusive Mentoring, based out of the Graduate School at Colorado State University.
“For me, it is like being asked to drive a car I loved to ride in for the first time,” said Vigh. “Very exciting and somewhat scary, but I am looking forward to the road ahead.”
The GCIM provides leadership for faculty directed mentoring efforts and works to propel student and postdoctoral scholar success through community building.
Vigh completed his doctoral degree in neurobiology in Hungary. He has been part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences since 2007, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.
Vigh and Graduate School Associate Dean Colleen Webb have worked together to achieve some monumental GCIM goals. The center has released a new series of resources and programs that have had a measurable impact on the community.
GCIM supports successful grant applications
One way to support mentoring is through providing support in pursuing grants. GCIM developed and released mentoring plan templates to support faculty in their mentoring journeys. Several faculty have used the grant templates to successfully obtain funding and develop personalized plans for their mentees.
Chemistry Assistant Professor Joseph Zadrozny recently used the GCIM grant mentoring plan template to apply for National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate program funding. Zadrozny used the template to build out a mentoring plan, with specific resources and programs. This plan will guide Zadronzny as he works with his graduate student mentee Roxanna Martinez on the proposed research. The grant covers Martinez’s stipend.
“Proposals like this I find really hard to write because I often have many, many thoughts, many, many things I want to say. I’m excited about all of them,” said Zadrozny. “Taking those thoughts, organizing them on paper, or putting them in a way that would make a compelling argument to somebody to give me money to pay people is a huge obstacle every time, and so having a template is extremely useful for taking the pureed set of ideas and turning it into something that is both legible and convincing.”
Zadrozny and Martinez study the magnetic properties of molecules.
“The long-term application that this fundamental information will help us toward is, for example, designing new types of magnetic resonance imaging agents that will let you sense environmental chemistry,” said Zadrozny. “MRI is really good for giving anatomical maps of the body. Imagine if we had an anatomical map and then a chemistry map overlaid with that. It would be transformative for diagnostics.”
Mentors develop new skills through Mentor Well Training
“Navigating through graduate school is a tall task for all students,” said Vigh. “Good mentoring can make it somewhat easier, whereas lack of mentoring or bad mentoring can break graduate student careers easily. Consider the mentor as a tour guide: the good ones know not only their way through the forest, but several other paths. The good ones recognize the attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and the needs of the guided ones, and are able to adjust the path accordingly to complete the journey.”
The Mentor Well program offers trainings to help faculty grow as supervisors. Every session offered through the program has extended beyond its capacity with a waiting list. GCIM’s objective is to equip mentors with the expertise and resources needed to help mentees meet their goals and expectations.
“It’s Mentor Well, it’s about well-being of the student, not just academically, but also on the personal level,” said Associate Professor Svetlana Olbina out of the Construction Management Department.
The Mentor Well program supports mentoring through a lens of professional and personal wellbeing.
“We know how to do the science. We know how to write papers. Hopefully, we know how to write grant proposals, but we don’t necessarily always know how to help our students to be the best person they can,” said Nancy Levinger, professor in the Department of Chemistry. “And I think this really came to light for me during the pandemic.
Through the Mentor Well Program, faculty receive formalized training to mentor through a lens of equity and inclusion to best support the success of graduate student and postdoctoral scholar mentees. A few of the training topics include fostering mental health, promoting independence, effective communication, and aligning expectations. Mentors complete the program with a capstone project of building out their mentoring philosophy.
Participants who complete the full series receive a GCIM Mentor Well Certificate. Faculty training is developed from the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research training curriculum.
Get involved with GCIM
Faculty members and staff can also find offer letter templates, reports to help make data-driven policy decisions, and other resources through GCIM.
Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars are encouraged to join the center for monthly Mentor Monday Discussions to engage in conversation about effective mentoring relationships and their critical role in the CSU community. Mentor Monday Discussions provide a networking opportunity to meet people from across the university.
“The Mentor Mondays are really nice because I’ll meet students who are not in my area,” said Levinger, “and I’ll be able to listen to what kinds of issues they’re dealing with and then think about how that applies back to what I do.”
GCIM has plans to continue building upon resources to support inclusive practices across campus, including a new set of resources to support holistic admission review.
“These resources will help faculty and admissions committees review graduate applications with best practices to ensure equity in the admissions process,” said Mary Stromberger, dean of the Graduate School.
On April 4 at noon, GCIM will host a virtual guest speaker, Karen Butler-Purry. Registration is required for the event.
Butler-Purry is the Graduate Dean at Texas A&M. Butler-Purry has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas and a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Howard University. Butler-Purry recently received the Debra Stewart Award for Outstanding Leadership in Graduate Education from the Council of Graduate Schools.