Mentoring Initiative

Education, training and career advice are key components of our science system and essential ingredients for its sustainability. Inspired by the success of Mentoring Lunches at the Society Annual Meetings, the RNA Society now has an Individual Mentoring Program.

Structured independent mentoring can provide complementary perspectives and valuable additional insights through ongoing communication with a mentee not under his/her direct supervision. The mentee should feel free to pose any problem or question related to his/her current project, career perspectives, interactions with colleagues, networking, etc.

Often the external views of an external mentor can provide a fresh perspective for the mentee to assess the evolution of a project, the need for a strategic switch, the advantage of acquiring particular skills, ways to optimize interactions with a colleague, etc. Examples range from a young faculty member trying to identify a scientific niche, to a postdoc trying to decide between careers in academia or in industry, to a PhD student wondering about the best strategy to apply for postdoc positions or change research topic. Mentoring could be particularly helpful for young scientists considering a move to another country or scientific organization. Many of us have encountered unprecedented personal and professional challenges as a result of the pandemic – so the need for guidance may be felt more strongly than ever by our junior members. Perhaps this program can provide some additional support in strategizing at a critical time.

Periodic meetings (on-line video conferences, email, or even in-person for those in the same vicinity) can help to establish milestones, outline realistic plans and hopefully help to establish durable links into the future. External mentoring should be neither redundant nor interfere with standard mentoring, but rather complement it and add value.

Society Members interested in enrolling as mentees in the fifth cycle of the Mentoring Program (Jan. – Dec. 2022) should complete the application before January 15, 2022. A short CV should be also submitted. We will evaluate the applications and arrange contacts with potential mentors.

Senior Members interesting in volunteering their time and experience as mentors should send me an email expressing interest, including any information that may be helpful in matching with a mentee (or two, if possible), and any preferences (career level of mentee, geographical considerations, specific research or career transition issues, etc.). I extend my deepest thanks to those who have mentored junior members in the past year – and I encourage them to let me know if they are willing repeat this important role! 

Supporting our younger scientists is one of the best services that our Society can provide for the future of RNA Research. The RNA Society Mentoring Initiative may become an important instrument to sustain our field and further build our deep sense of community.

If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Greenbaum directly at [email protected]