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David Kwabi

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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?

My main goal as an advisor is to provide the guidance necessary for each student to thrive at every stage. I tend to be more 'hands-on' at the beginning of the PhD, but expect my students to become increasingly independent over time.

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

My students reach me mostly via Slack, but email also works well. On weekdays, I tend to respond within no more than 3 - 4 hours.

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 have weekly one-on-one meetings with first-year students. After the first year, one-on-one meetings are optional. I have an open weekly slot in my calendar that any student can sign up for for a meeting.

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

We have weekly meetings for the whole group, and biweekly subgroup meetings.

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.).

My students' main responsibilities are to be diligent, ethical and rigorous about their research, to be considerate colleagues to their fellow labmates and collaborators, and to enjoy themselves. I do expect my students to read peer-reviewed literature, attend conferences, and seek to grow as creative and thoughtful engineers. Beyond this, I try not to micromanage how my students spend their time.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

One may be an author on a publication if he/she contributed data for at least one of the main figures in the manuscript. Authorship order is decided based on the scale of one's contribution to the generation of the data in the article, or to the writing.

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

I generally do not.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

Roughly speaking, one should have 4 research-focused chapters of a dissertation, corresponding roughly to 4 submitted first-author journal articles, to graduate. There will be exceptions, of course, depending on the content and scale of work done by the student.

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 am generally not supportive of internships unless there is a tight connection between the focus of the internship and the research.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

I will arrange a one-on-one meeting if there is a serious issue. Otherwise, I provide feedback whenever the opportunity arises, which happens to be mostly during meetings.

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

At least a week.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

I ask them directly during our meetings.

Conference Attendance

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

My group mainly attends meetings of the Electrochemical Society. We also occasionally participate in meetings of the American Chemical Society and Materials Research Society. There is Rackham travel funding, but I am happy to student travel with grant funding or my startup funds.

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?

Every graduate is entitled to 20 working days of vacation a year, to be distributed as they see fit. I expect to be notified about vacation days at least 2 weeks in advance.

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

Over Winter break and in July.

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