Research Mentors

Graduate Students & Postdocs

Supervising the work of others is an important component of graduate students’ professional development. Most graduate students and postdocs who choose to mentor undergraduates do so for a combination of reasons, both altruistic and practical. Graduate students recognize how much they have learned in their own transitions between undergraduate and graduate work, and want to help their younger colleagues prepare for such transitions. Many graduate students and postdocs were helped along the way by important mentors, and they want to “give back” by mentoring others. Alternatively, graduate students may recognize deficiencies in their preparation for graduate school (“if only I had known…”) and want to provide timely advice. On the practical side, graduate students and postdocs report that after learning to supervise, they understand their own faculty mentors better.

The mentoring experiences help them to reflect on their teaching skills and deficiencies and help them become better professionals. The experiences can provide practical benefits in the humanities and social sciences such as review of an area of literature relevant both to the interests of the undergrad as well as a requirement for a graduate comprehensive exam. In the sciences, the practical benefits can extend to one or more additional co-authored publications as a consequence of the undergraduate project, in addition to demonstrating one’s abilities to manage the work of others.

Recognizing Graduate Student Contributions to OUR

OUR currently offers the following ways that graduate students and postdoctoral mentors can contribute or be recognized:

Additional Ways for Graduate Students to Be Part of OUR

There are a variety of additional opportunities to contribute your expertise throughout the year in workshops and symposia organized by the OUR (such as teaching undergraduates how to prepare a talk or a poster, and offering advice to undergraduates on finding a research mentor and developing a summer fellowship proposal, in addition to advice about graduate school and career choices). If you have an interest in such “one-time” activities, please contact us at our@unc.edu.