MARE: Mentoring Our Next Generation of Researchers

Mentorship is at the core of the research enterprise, functioning as the primary way to support trainees moving through purposeful stages of their research, while contributing greatly to the advance of scientific research. However, there had not been specific or required training for mentors or mentees to learn about how to effectively engage and navigate this essential academic and professional relationship

To fill this gap, the Mentoring Academy for Research Excellence (MARE), housed in the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), was created. MARE has a record of innovation in research mentorship and was one of the first of its kind in the nation, currently under the leadership of Julie Schweitzer, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Now focused on research mentoring, it was initially called the Mentoring Academy in the first cycle of the CTSC and developed by Emeritus Professor Judith Turgeon and Richard Kravitz, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. Fred Meyers, professor of internal medicine and director of the CTSC Research Training, Education, and Career Development program, also made important contributions by leveraging his connections with the National Center for Research Resources (precursor to the National Center for Advancing Translational Science). The current MARE team consists of Julie Schweitzer (director), faculty members Faye Dixon and Meghan Miller, and staff member Daniel Moglen.

The mission of MARE is to develop the next generation of independent, highly successful academic faculty, and advance the UC Davis research mission. MARE accomplishes this mission by facilitating workshop series for both mentors and mentees, providing support with Individual Development Plans (IDPs), sharing resources with the broader research community, and staying at the forefront of best practices in mentorship.

MARE’s workshops bring topics of mentoring to both mentors and mentees, including topics of culturally aware mentorship, mentoring up, and navigating conflict. By facilitating workshops for both sides of the mentorship dyad, MARE gains the added value of better understanding what issues and challenges, as well as strengths, are found in mentoring relationships at UC Davis Health.

Daniel Moglen, co-facilitator for MARE mentee workshops and education and training specialist for the CTSC, notes: “So much of what happens inside a mentoring relationship is invisible to the outside. For trainees that are experiencing challenges in their mentoring relationships, they might not have a place to turn for support. By sharing our expertise and creating space for trainees to share stories, we are helping to create and promote a culture that nurtures healthy mentoring relationships.”

Challenges identified by early career faculty.Figure 1. Challenges identified by early
career faculty in the "Building a
comprehensive mentoring academy for
schools of health" study (2019).

As a result of their work, the MARE team has been invited to speak to various campus groups and create curricular content around mentorship. Moglen adds, "we hope and strive to be a hub where both mentors and trainees can come for support."

An integral part of a mentoring relationship is the use of an Individual Development Plan (IDP). IDPs use goal setting and self-reflection tools to build a career plan that the mentee shares with their mentoring team. The IDP helps faculty focus on career goals and more effectively manage their time, fulfilling some of the greatest needs of junior faculty, as Schweitzer and her colleagues outlined in their 2019 study (see Figure 1). It helps to establish good communications and shared expectations between mentor and mentee. Schweitzer notes that at the core of mentoring is relationship building, and, as with all relationships, effective communication is key to its success.

Broad faculty participation is key – helping to broaden diversity of subject matter experts while also increasing the opportunity for mentees to work with faculty who reflect their own lived experiences. Faculty interested in enhancing their mentoring skillset and capacity are strongly encouraged to consider joining MARE as a member. As Faye Dixon, clinical professor of psychology and MARE workshop co-facilitator, points out, there has been recent improvement to the diversity of senior faculty at UC Davis, but there is still underrepresentation among some groups. As a final tip, mentors should also update their UC Davis Profiles mentoring section so that it is easier for mentees searching the Profiles database to find potential mentors in their field.

MARE'S RESOURCES AT A GLANCE

  • Ready to start an IDP?
    • The early career faculty IDP developed by MARE is conveniently located on the MARE website.
  • Need help finding a mentor?
    • Use UC Davis Profiles. This search engine lets you quickly and easily search for faculty by subject of research and review.
    • Search for faculty members of the mentoring academy.
  • Need help diversifying your mentorship team?
  • Need help writing training grants?
  • Interested in MARE's workshops?
    • MARE’s workshops for research mentors and mentees help develop broad skills in effective communication, time management, diversity and inclusion, team science and conflict resolution. These support mentor-mentee relationship building but they are not limited to PIs. Upcoming workshops are listed on the MARE website.

For more information about MARE and mentoring workshops for mentors and mentees, please visit the MARE website.