Skip to content

Jianping Fu

Back to Faculty Profile

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 lab will be most suitable for PhD students who are interested in fundamental studies and are committed to academic pursuits after their PhD training. I am somewhat hands-off with my PhD students since I like to provide some freedom and space for them to explore different research directions available in the lab and harness the available technical strengths of the lab. I also strongly encourage collaborations among lab members so that they can share knowledge and skill sets and help each other’s projects. It is my experience that the creativity and innovation from the students themselves are most valuable for achieving novel and impactful findings. Thus, I expect my PhD students to be transformed into independent and creative researchers towards the end of their PhD studies in my lab. Having said that, as a mentor, I do try to provide useful guidance to ensure the proper growth and training of my PhD students and that they are working on meaningful and impactful questions. Normally, during the first 1-2 years of their PhD studies, I love to see new PhD students develop skills and confidence. I encourage new PhD students to team up with more experienced lab members to work on some well-defined projects. This will provide a 'safe' project through which they can acquire necessary techniques for what will prove to be their thesis project. Normally, in the second or third year, I will work with my PhD students to explore, define, and evaluate the feasibility of a larger thesis project.

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

The best way for my PhD students to reach me is through emails or Slack. I check my emails and Slack messages regularly. My PhD students should expect a response from me within 24 hours or less.

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 don't have one-on-one meetings with all of my trainees. Instead, I only hold biweekly individual meetings with junior PhD students in my lab, which typically last 30 minutes. The purpose of these meetings is for students to provide updates on the status of their projects, and for me to offer timely feedback, as well as provide input and suggestions for their next steps. However, I also maintain an open-door policy, encouraging students to knock on my door and chat with me if I am in my office. Additionally, I visit the lab on a daily basis to chat with the students working there, understand their projects, and answer any questions they may have.

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

Yes, we hold weekly group meetings in which one member of the group presents their work, while the rest of the group listens, asks questions, and provides input. These group meetings serve as a formal platform for lab members to update the group on their current projects, share their progress, and seek feedback and suggestions from their colleagues.

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.).

PhD students in my lab will focus their efforts on lab bench work (culturing stem cells and many other standard biochemical experiments), building microengineered tools (such as microfluidic devices involving cleanroom fabrication and soft lithography), imaging, data analysis, etc. While they are not conducting experiments in the lab, they are typically sitting in the student offices to read research papers or work on their manuscripts.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

We follow general practice in the field to decide on authorship and authorship order. In general, anyone who contributes to method development, experimental data, data analyses, or writing that is essential to a paper will be included as an author. Normally, the first author will be the trainee who leads the project, contributes most of the experimental data, and writes the first complete draft of the manuscript, and I will be the senior last author of the manuscript. Authorship should not be promised in advance of all experimental outcomes, and effort alone cannot guarantee authorship. All authors are responsible for the rigor of data analyses. The authorship and authorship order should be agreed upon by all authors before the manuscript is accepted for publication.

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

Normally, I encourage the PhD students in my group to serve as a GSI once or twice during their PhD studies. This will be helpful for the trainees in developing their teaching skills necessary for their future academic pursuits.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

I expect each PhD student to have a minimum of three first-author journal articles before graduation. There may be exceptions based on the scope and content of the papers published 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 direct connection between the focus of the internship and our research.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

I provide such feedback during individual meetings with the students.

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

At least two weeks.  Earlier is better.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

The students can offer me their feedback by emails or directly speak to me during our individual meetings.

Conference Attendance

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

ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference, Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting, BMES Cellular and Molecular Engineering (CMBE) Conference, International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Annual Meeting, Gordon / Keystone Research Conferences, and microTAS. There is Rackham Conference Travel Funding to support PhD students to attend domestic and international conferences. I also often support student travel with my federal research grants or discretionary funds.  On average, every PhD student in my group should attend three to four research conferences before graduation.

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 PhD student is entitled to two to three weeks of working days for vacation every year, to be distributed as they see fit. I like to be notified about student vacation plans at least two weeks in advance of their intended vacation.

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

Over Winter break or in the summer.

Back to Faculty Profile