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Rayhaneh Akhavan

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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 mentoring style is "hands on". I like to be involved, at a very detailed level, in every aspect of the project that the student is working on. Students have as much access to me as they need. With students who prefer a lot of hand-holding, I meet almost on a daily basis. With others, who prefer more autonomy, we meet once or twice a week. Students are encouraged to develop autonomy as they progress in their PhD, but keep me informed of what they are doing, nonetheless.

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

Email, zoom, phone calls.

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?

Anywhere from daily to a couple of times a week, depending on the student's style and abilities.

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

My group is small, and we do not have group 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.).

Reading the background literature, writing code, running simulations, data analysis and scientific visualization, writing first draft of papers, preparing slides for conferences, giving conference presentations.

How do you decide authorship and/or authorship order?

I generally prefer to put the student(s) as first author. For that, the student needs to give me a written first draft of the entire paper. If I have to write paper from scratch, and the student's contribution is limited to some plots, then I may put myself as the first author.

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

Yes, for the courses that I teach. I believe this helps to better prepare the students for both academic and industry jobs.

Do you have general expectations for graduation?

A minimum of one (preferably up to 3) papers on the topic of student's dissertation, "in print or in press" in the top journals in my field is required for graduation. The length of the PhD in my group is between 5-6 years (assuming the student has not done any internships).

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 general, no. The only exception is if the internship is directly related to the student's topic of research.

Opportunities for Feedback

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

Feedback is provided verbally during weekly meetings.

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

I usually do extensive edits on publication drafts. I need at least 1-2 months to edit a draft before the work can be submitted for publication.

How do you solicit feedback from your students?

Students are welcome to share their feedback and concerns during our meetings or via email.

Conference Attendance

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

APS/DFD - funding is through a combination of Rackham Travel Grants and my sources of funding.

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?

Ideally, vacations should be limited to no more than 1-2 weeks at a time. Longer vacations need to be coordinated with me in advance. 

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

The best time for vacations are the breaks between semesters. 

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

We generally take a few days off after major deadlines or conferences.

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