Mentors, humm… such a big deal for every student to have one, but the process doesn’t come with instructions on how to obtain just the right person to guide you through your academic and early professional career. Is there a straightforward and easy way to address the issue?
YES, the Teratology Society recognizes there are inherent challenges in finding that special someone. Sort of like Match.com, you can go to the Student and Postdoc Corner of the Teratology Society website and read the profiles of many highly qualified individuals willing to assist.
This is how it worked for me. I was in the process of determining my committee and a couple people stood out as obvious choices, my advisor, Dr. Mary Alice Smith and professors I enjoyed. But I was also looking for someone committed to developmental and reproductive toxicology. While I could ask someone in the community to serve, I was lucky enough to find Dr. Jose Cordero on the Teratology Society Mentor list. Not only is he the founding Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, but currently working at the University of Georgia. Perfect! After a couple of emails, I went to his office and asked for guidance with my research. He was interested, supportive and now on my graduate committee. I feel it was a match meant to be. Although your journey may not follow the same path, just knowing there are experienced leaders in the field who care about your future makes a difference. While each potential mentor is busy, go ahead and contact one of them, maybe more. Then have coffee at the annual meeting!
About the Author: Marie McKenzie is a PhD student at the University of Georgia. Marie joined the Teratology Society in 2015 and currently serves on the Student Affairs Committee. Student/Postdoc Members interested in serving on a Teratology Society Committee are encouraged to contact Teratology Society Headquarters.