Inclusive and high quality mentorship is needed within and across scientific teams aiming to address complex and urgent scientific questions. In these environments, expertise is diffused – knowledge needed to address multi-faceted questions will be held across teams and institutions. A scientist’s ability to participate and contribute fully in these environments will rely upon one’s ability to mentor (and be mentored by) others from different disciplines and career stages (e.g., graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, mid-career, senior faculty).

In addition to research productivity (Steiner and Lanphear, 2004; 2007; Wingard et al, 2004), strong mentorship has been linked to increased recruitment and persistence in science, particularly for trainees from underrepresented groups (Hathaway et al, 2002; Nagda et al, 1998; Sambunjak et al, 2010; Williams et al, 2015; Bordes-Edgar et al., 2011;). Empirical research has indicated that trainees with strong mentorship experience an enhanced science identity, sense of belonging and self-efficacy (Cho et al, 2011; Chemers et al, 2011; Thiry and Laursen, 2011).

Federal (U.S.) agencies and foundations, including the National Academies of Science, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Sloan Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund have invested significantly in the study and practice of optimizing mentoring relationships (Hemming, McDaniels, Pfund, Schwartz, Tartakovsky, & Yellin, 2018). Starting in 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS) started requiring applicants of training grants (e.g., T32s) to not only have robust professional development plans for trainees, but also for mentors.

In this workshop, participants will learn about proven methods for improving mentoring relationships and professional development resources available to assist teams in working more effectively.  These resources are the result of more than a decade of research, including randomized controlled trials (Pfund, et. al., 2014), and their effectiveness has been proven in a variety of team science contexts. Participants will engage in activities to help strengthen their mentor/mentee relationships, and will develop a plan to connect team members with appropriate institutional and/or national resources for ongoing professional development. The growing national conversation about optimizing mentoring relationships has supported the development of resources that researchers and institutional leaders can optimize for their own research contexts.


Dr. Melissa McDaniels is Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research Mentoring at the Graduate School and Postdoc Office at Michigan State University. She is Co-Director of the NIH-supported National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) ( Master Facilitator Initiative. She is also an investigator for the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research ( at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. McDaniels continues to be an active facilitator, running workshops and training sessions on the topic of culturally responsive mentoring for the National Research Mentoring Network, the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the American Society for Microbiology, the National Postdoctoral Association, the Council of Graduate Schools, the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) and the NIH BUILD Institutions (undergraduate institutions implementing and studying innovative approaches to engaging and retaining students from diverse backgrounds in biomedical research). She enjoys facilitating mentoring workshops both in-person and on-line. Dr. McDaniels has spent over 25-years working with universities to promote environments that support inclusive excellence in mentoring and teaching. Dr. McDaniels holds degrees from Michigan State University (PhD), Boston College (MA), and University of Michigan (BA).

Dr. Katy Luchini Colbry
is the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Services at the College of Engineering at Michigan State University, where she completed degrees in political theory and computer science. A recipient of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, she earned Ph.D. and M.S.E. in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. She has published dozens of peer-reviewed works related to her interests in engineering education and graduate student success. Dr. Luchini Colbry is a Master Facilitator for the National Research Mentor Network, and serves as Director of the Engineering Futures Program of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. Engineering Futures provides interactive seminars on interpersonal communications and problem solving skills through a national network of volunteer facilitators who conduct hundreds of sessions serving thousands of engineering students and professionals each year.