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James Barber

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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?

As a collaborator rather than a manager. I give advice but give students a lot of freedom to follow their own ideas and methods.

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


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?

Once a week for about an hour, or as requested by the advisee.

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


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.).

Thinking about theoretical problems, writing code to solve examples mainly to get insight into more general cases.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

Student's name is always first.

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


Do you have general expectations for graduation?

4 to 5 years.

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?

Yes. It always helps to have more than one perspective. Summer is best.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

During weekly meetings, but informally.

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

We decide these things together, not by me issuing instructions.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

Weekly meetings mostly in response to their new results.

Conference Attendance

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

Contact Mechanics Symposia, Tribology meetings, Rackham + discretionary 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?

I'm very flexible about this.

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


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

Up to them.

Additional Information

Are there any additional points that you would like to share?

I encourage students to think for themselves, rather than relying a lot on reading the literature. The literature makes much more sense after we have tried to solve the problem on our own.

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