• Four of the many entries to the Poster Contest for Mentoring in Research.

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  • Mikhail Wolfson, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, looks at the poster contest entries outside the Pappalardo Room.

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  • Right to left: Nan Gu poses with two members of the PCMR steering committee, Brian Walker and Teppo Jouttenus. Leslie Rogers (not pictured) was the principal organizer of the closing ceremonies.

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REFS poster contest: highlighting mentorship

Participation from across the Institute shows just how important mentoring really is.

An awards reception on April 15 marked the end of the Resources for Easing Friction and Stress (REFS) Poster Contest for Mentoring in Research. The contest, which attracted more than 50 poster entries, highlighted the importance of mentorship in research. The REFS, a graduate student group that offers confidential peer support, created the contest to get the MIT community thinking about mentorship and the many forms a mentoring relationship can take.

The REFS started thinking seriously about the importance of mentors after realizing that many issues brought before them could be resolved by strong mentorship. “It is an informal yet essential part of education,” said contest sponsor Marc Kastner, dean of the School of Science.

“Some of the most significant moments of my career have been mentoring,” remarked fellow contest sponsor Steve Lerman, the vice chancellor and dean for graduate education. The contest got him to reflect on his 35 years as an MIT faculty member and his own experiences mentoring.

“If I could offer one piece of advice to all students, it would be to seek a mentor," Lerman said. "If I could offer a second: become a mentor.”

Although the grand prize winners were selected by a panel of faculty judges, the MIT community had a chance to vote for their favorite posters as well. Community favorites were chosen in three categories: best graphics, best mentoring message and best potential to go viral. Physics graduate student Nan Gu won the top adjudicated prize for his poster, “We make a life by what we give.”

Look for the posters across the Institute; they will soon be displayed in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and the Ombuds office. The REFS are currently exploring other ways to use the posters to further promote the importance of mentorship at MIT.

All posters, including a full list of winners, can be seen at http://pcmr.mit.edu.

Topics: Contests and academic competitions, Faculty, Mentoring, Staff, Students


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