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Hongyi Xiao

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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 generally encourage students to define and solve research challenges in a self-driven mode. I would work with starting PhD students to tailor out their first projects that combines their interests and previous expertise with mine, and offer close guidance to equip them with necessary knowledge and skills to carry out research in our field. I expect students to eventually identify thesis topics that extend beyond our current scope of research, and then I will serve as a collaborator that offers feedback and connects them to the necessary resources to advance their work.

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 prefer being contacted by emails and will response within a day. It is also okay for a student to knock on my door for a brief discussion.

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 offer weekly one-on-one meetings to students which can be scheduled for 30-60 minutes.

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


Group meetings are held once every two weeks. Students take turns to briefly present their lasted progress, or practice their upcoming external talks. It is a good practice for students to summarize their work into slides and communicating research ideas with their peers.

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 responsible for conducting research that includes literature review, development of research plans, conducting experiments or simulations, and analyzing data. They are also responsible for communicating research which includes drafting and submitting papers, attending conferences, and organizing community outreach. These tasks will be carried out under my guidance.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?


In principle, authorship should be decided at an early stage by the planned intellectual contribution to the specific research project. Students responsible for the research are normally first authors, and I will serve as the corresponding author.

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


Yes, since teaching experience is valuable and it also helps the group.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?


My general expectation for graduation is that the students should have demonstrated that they are capable of carrying out a complete research project that has significant contribution to the research field, from planning to publication. Having high quality research paper is obviously a good demonstration, but the construction of a sophisticated experimental apparatus or simulation program can also grant graduation.

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?


In principle, it is okay for students to go on internship for once in their studies, preferably in the summer. Special consideration can be given if they plan to work for research collaborators from industry or national labs.

Opportunities for Feedback


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


Feedback is provided through individual meetings that can be scheduled weekly. I will also establish a research plan for each student where we can develop targets and evaluate from time to time, which not only include research objectives but also skills and knowledge that the student wish to learn in their training.

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


Meaningful editing and revision of a written manuscript could take one or two months and we should plan accordingly. For conferences talks, I expect presentations to be made at least two weeks ahead.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?


I will solicit feedback from students from individual meetings and also by establishing an environment that is easy for students to share their thoughts in daily communication.

Conference Attendance


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


Students will have the chance to present their research work at international conferences at least once per year, which generally include APS March Meetings, APS DFD Meetings, Gordon Research Conferences, as well as conferences that are more specific to the granular and soft matter field. Students are encouraged but not required to apply for external travel grants from the department and the organizers.

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?


It is best for students to notify my of plans for vacation two weeks ahead of time for necessary arrangements.

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


No, but I would prefer vacation plans for summer and end-of-the year where research intensity is low.

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


Burn-out is harmful to both the students and their research, so I will suggest the students to take a break when they have worked consistently for a long period of time, when they exhibit fatigue, and also after major deadlines and conferences. I will also consider important celebrations in their respective culture (e.g. the Chinese New Year) for vacation.

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