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Allen Liu

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Mentoring Plan for PhD Students

Communication and Meetings

How would you describe your advising style? Does your approach vary over the course of a student's progress within their degree?

I aspire to create a collegial, fun, respectful, and collaborative lab. I recognize that everybody has different needs and expectations and will incorporate different elements of training depending on a trainee's career path and ambitions. I see my role as a coach and will bring the most out of each person coming through my lab. At the beginning of a student's degree, there will be more frequent meetings with more guidance. As a student gains experience and competence, I prefer to give students more space for their creativity to pursue questions that excite them.

What is the best way/technology for students to contact you? Are there time frames in which students should expect to hear from you?

I am prompt in responding to students so I expect the same from my trainees. It is desirable to prioritize our communication as I work with my trainees as a team. Within the lab, we have an active Slack group and we also use emails to communicate on more official items.

How often do you plan to meet with students one-on-one (be as specific as possible, it's okay to describe multiple styles that may vary with student needs)? Is an agenda required? How long are meetings?

I meet students one-on-one every two weeks during the academic year, typically for 45 minutes. I expect students to come prepared to discuss their progress since the last time we met and set goals for the next time we meet. When we prepare manuscripts, we can have additional meetings to go over results and manuscript planning. I am also open to having meetings with students as needed.

Do you have regular group meetings? What does student participation look like in a group meeting?

We have group meetings once a week for 1.5 hours during the academic year. My students and post-docs take turns to present their research and we also have journal club where my trainees get to discuss a paper in depth with the group.

Research and Teaching Expectations

Describe your students' primary area(s) of responsibility and expectations (e.g., reading peer-reviewed literature, in-lab working hours, etc.).

Students are expected to make research progress continuously. Reading literature is an essential part of the research progress as knowing a field's past is important for charting a field's future. As we are an experimental lab, I expect students to be physically present during their core working hours. I expect students to take initiative in their projects and set a high bar for research excellence. 

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

There are established guidelines of authorships in our field of research of what contributions constitute authorship. 

Do you ask students in your group to serve as a GSI over the course of their program?

I expect each student to take up one semester of GSI over the course of their study. I consider having teaching experience an essential part of a PhD student's training.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

All my Ph.D. students have at least 2 first author primary research articles and several co-authored publications from other collaboration

Are you supportive of your students going on internships? If so, is there a time of year that is best? How many internships can they do?

I have supported my PhD students to go on internships (only one), and would only allow that in the final summer before their graduation.

Opportunities for Feedback

How do you provide students with feedback regarding overall progress, research activities, etc.?

As I meet with students regularly, this is the best opportunity for me to provide feedback regarding their overall progress.

How far in advance of a deadline should a student expect to provide written work for feedback, such as publication drafts?

I generally return publication drafts within 1-2 days on average. I expect students to work earnestly on tasks with an associated deadline. 

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

They can talk to me anytime and I am open for any feedback.

Conference Attendance

Which meetings do your students generally attend? What funding is available to attend these meetings?

I encourage students to attend a conference each year, providing that they are presenting (poster or oral presentation) at the meeting. Rackham provides funding and the remaining costs are covered through my grants.

Time Away from Campus

Discuss expectations regarding vacations and time away from campus and how best to plan for them. What is the time-frame for notification regarding anticipated absences?

I expect students to let me know in advance if they are traveling for vacation, or being sick. Graduate studies are preparation for entering the workforce and there are expectations around leave and vacation. 

Are there specific standard times that students in your group generally take vacation?

Up to 2 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks in the winter on average 

What do you do to facilitate students taking time off (e.g., do you proactively encourage people to take vacation after major deadlines)?

Students are in charge of their schedules.

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