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Mentoring in the Mounce Lab

Mentorship is the cornerstone of a successful laboratory. We aim to support each other and build an environment where can all thrive together.

Clear communication.

We talk to each other all the time, at the bench, at lunch, at lab meeting, hanging out on the quad. Having open, clear communication is essential to understanding and helping each other. As a mentor, I establish communication with everyone in the lab to help them in whatever way they need – staying on track with a project, throwing around ideas, troubleshooting a western blot. Feeling comfortable talking to everyone in the lab is essential to a positive working environment.

I establish regular meetings with mentees immediately in the lab. These meetings are to promote communication and to help everyone succeed in whatever way they need. 

Set expectations.

Having established expectations, both for the mentor and the mentee builds a relationship with transparency. With everyone in the lab, I have expectations that we discuss when one is considering joining the lab. Of course, my lab has expectations of me as well. Knowing these expectations immediately prevents miscommunication and confusion because no one is left wondering about what others expect of them.

Supporting others’ goals.

We want a positive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves. Part of that is to help each other in our journey to meeting our personal goals. That might involve helping with experiments, talking through ideas, or developing connections. Sometimes we don’t achieve our goals, and having a support network of colleagues that care helps emotionally or to find alternatives. Developing relationships that are positive and constructive helps everyone feel like they are supported in the lab.

Promoting diversity.

Everyone is a scientist, and diversity is the future of science. We welcome all, and we celebrate the individuals in our lab. We help each other to feel like they belong in science and that everyone is valued. See more about diversity in the Mounce Lab here.

Feeling welcome.

The lab is a wonderful place – there’s just so much fun stuff you can do there. It shouldn’t be a place that you dread coming to. You should feel comfortable being yourself and being in the lab, and we develop this atmosphere by  allowing everyone to express themselves freely, developing their workspace how they want to, communicating with each other, and having fun.

Making sure that all can contribute.

Sometimes it can be easy to get lost or feel small in science. We avoid that in our lab by making sure that everyone is included and everyone contributes. For example, during lab meeting, all are welcome and encouraged to ask questions and contribute ideas. In the lab, we are constantly asking each other about protocols, optimizations, and asking where things are (mostly in Bryan’s case).

Working together.

The lab and our science both benefit when we work together. By sharing expertise and talent, we can push projects forward and make new discoveries. We also get to share the celebrations for publications! By working together, we help each other. Our aim is to maintain a lab environment that is collaborative and where we all benefit from helping each other.

Having fun.

We are scientists, and we pride ourselves on our work, but we also like to have fun. Frequently you’ll find the lab drawing on the windows, decorating for a holiday, or dancing to music in the tissue culture room. Enjoying being at the lab is important, and balancing fun with hard work makes the lab a fun and productive environment. Donuts and waterpark excursions also help.

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