Mentorship, guidance and motivation are key to graduate student success. Creating a sustainable interdisciplinary training program from biologists and computer scientists requires a commitment to a motivative mentorship model that meets individual student needs and sets them on a path to success.
Traditional university mentorship and advisement infrastructure fill a critical role in a student’s academic career. A student’s committee and academic advisor help to keep them on track to meet coursework and dissertation requirements that ensure successful completion of their graduate program.
SCALE-IT adds a motivative mentorship component that complements traditional university infrastructure by providing group and personal learning experiences that fall outside the scope of the traditional academic adviser role.
The SCALE-IT program manager provides personalized attention to each student, giving them the confidence, competence and resources to meet their research and professional goals.
The mentorship role of the program manager takes many forms—including advising students on creating viable research plans, identifying resources needed for research, giving advice on securing funding for projects through effective grant writing techniques.
On an individual level, the program manager counsels students one-on-one on topics such as time management, career planning, graduate school success and interpersonal communication and leadership skills.
SCALE-IT students rely on peers for support and training as they go through the program. Peers assist with much of the cross disciplinary training in the “gateway curriculum” classes, allowing biologists and computer scientists to increase their skill set and knowledge base; creating a shared vocabulary and the realization of novel research possibilities.
Additional cross-disciplinary sharing goes on outside the classroom as well, as students from both disciplines collaborate, lead and participate on the research teams of fellow SCALE-IT students. Students take an active interest in sharing knowledge and cross-disciplinary solutions that assist peers with research challenges.
Another valuable function of peers in the SCALE-It program is to social adjustment to the world of graduate school, biotech and cross-disciplinary research teams. This provides opportunities for new students to learn successful skills and habits and for senior students to gain experience in mentorship.