Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Time for Mentors

With my husband traveling for 5 days to a conference and me with the kids, I find very little time for blogging (or anything else intellectual or relaxing!) but while the kids nap, I finally sat outside in the sunny 80 degree weather here to read through the latest Nature. I was pleased to find a small bit in the editorials concerning mentoring awards ("Mentoring award 2006", Nature 440:970, 2006).

Once again my hats off to the UK. Last year Nature/NESTA sponsored awards for creative mentoring in science. This year the program includes both the UK and Australasia. I have always been a proponent for recognizing the skill of mentoring. As rightly stated in this short editorial, " There are many heads of labs whose students have turned into outstanding scientists, but all too often such cases have exemplified survival of the fittest rather than being the product of deliberate nurturing." I agree. I have always enjoyed and have spent a lot of time mentoring PhD students, undergraduates wanting some lab experience and in my other "profession" of figure skating coach, 6 - 70 year olds pursuing ice dancing goals. I have reaped great rewards from these mentoring relationships and my students have gone on to receive national fellowships in science and acheived higher dance test goals than they ever thought they could.

A few years ago when I was serving on the fledgling WICR (Women in Cancer Research) council prior to it's acceptance as a component within the AACR (American Association of Cancer Research), I often brought up the idea of rewarding in a small way, the mentoring talents of women in science. It was never received with much enthusiam and the focus was on sponsoring a high profile award lecture at the national meeting, which didn't necessarily have to go to a woman. I believed then and still do now, that WICR is not serving women in cancer research in many of the areas that they most need. This includes possible grants for re-entry into science, that I talked about in my last blog. So far it's UK 2, US 0!

1 comment:

Abel PharmBoy said...

Funny, I had heard my postdocs say similar things about WICR. The only way to value mentoring is for them to recognize good mentoring. Keep on making the suggestion - it's certainly useful to recognize accomplished women scientists but it is equally important to recognize those at the front line who are training the next generation of women scientists.