What makes a top-notch mentor? According to this year's nomination letters, great mentors provide a supportive yet challenging environment, help trainees with their current projects as well as future career goals, and foster independent thinking while offering appropriate guidance. But don't take it from me; check out a few excerpts from the nomination letters for Dr. Woodgate and Dr. Waters:
On Dr. Woodgate:
Dr. Woodgate accepting his award
"Roger's support, dedication, and commitment extend to everybody in the lab. He really cares about the scientific growth of his postdocs and fellows, constantly challenging them with interesting problems. He is always willing to help to solve their immediate tasks as well as to work on achieving ultimate career goals."
"Roger is an exceptional mentor because of his vision for the direction of the scientific research of the lab as a whole and for the individual scientists within the lab."
"I learned from him how to interact with young postdocs and students, how to teach them, and how to show them the beauty of science."
"Dr. Woodgate has created a very friendly and supportive atmosphere in his laboratory."
"Meetings with Roger are both stimulating and challenging. His sincerity, insight, and thoughtful approach make even complex tasks interesting and compelling."
"Roger considers collegiality being integral to success. He puts the extra effort into creating a welcoming environment in the lab, where everybody is respected as a valuable member"
Dr. Roger Woodgate is the Chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Integrity. In his 20 years at the NICHD, he has learned a thing or two about mentor- ship. His thoughts:
"I believe that my goal as a scientific mentor is akin to that of teaching somebody to swim. If you throw somebody who can't swim into the deep end of the pool, chances are that person won't be around too long. If, however, you start off in the shallow end and teach them how to swim over a period of time, you are likely to have more 'survivors' when you get to the deep water. It's pretty much the same thing with scientists. You can't necessarily expect a fellow coming to your lab to be absolutely brilliant the day they walk through the door...a good mentor needs to be patient, and provide guidance and support, as the fellow develops their own scientific skills and talents."
On Dr. Waters:
Melissa Sandoval accepts the award for her mentor, Dr. Laurie Waters.
"Dr. Waters's mentoring style is very positive; she is very supportive and encourages me to develop communication and analytical skills critical to becoming a successful scientist."
"Dr. Waters continues to encourage me to propose experiments or explanations of results in a supportive environment."
"As a result of Dr. Waters's constant communication, encouragement and support for independent thinking, I have been given constructive criticism leading to my progressive growth as a young scientist."
"Dr. Waters is passionate about science and mentoring. She represents NICHD to the highest standards through exceptional mentoring and is the caliber of mentor that the NIH expects in its postdoctoral researchers."
Dr. Lauren (Laurie) S. Waters is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Gisela Storz. The NICHD Connection congratulates Dr.Waters on the new addition to her family. We can rest assured that the baby will be well mentored!
Congratulations to Drs. Woodgate and Waters! Here's a look at all "Mentor of the Year" finalist investigator nominees with their nominators:
Dr. Leonid Margolis by Christophe Vanpouille and Andrea Lisco, postdoctoral fellows¿
Dr. Karl Pfeifer by Austin Good, postbac
Dr. Owen Rennert by Mark Ziats, graduate and medical student
Dr. Roger Woodgate by Ekaterina Chumakov, John McDonald, Justyna McIntyre, Wojciech Kuban, Alexandra Vaisman, and Mary McLenigan, scientists and fellows in his lab