I constantly think of or hear things that professors do with their students and think "what a great idea!" or "holy hell I hope I never do that to my students." So, rather than constantly thinking of these things and forgetting them I was hoping you could forever put this in print AND include the wisdom of our wonderful community by asking for everyone's top 3 list of best and worst things about their research group in grad school.First, thank you to anyone who donated! And second, I am more than happy to answer this question:
The best 3 things about my grad school adviser/group (note that I'm remembering this through a haze of positive nostalgia):
- Personal mentoring: I always felt like my research advisor was dedicated to making me a better scientist, a better communicator and a better chemist. Group meetings weren't micromanaging beatdowns, they were a weekly 2 hour opportunity to learn from him (and each other!) about all aspects of organic chemistry. Even one-on-one meetings were positive and solution-oriented.
- Help with communication: Papers, orals, theses, interview talks were all practiced in front of the group, with slide-by-slide critiques given by fellow group members.
- Picking up the phone: I am always weirded out by stories from folks whose advisers wouldn't write letters of recommendation or make a phone call or two about a student. He has always been an advocate for his students, even after they've long since left his group.
- Favoritism/cliquishness: People have a natural tendency to congregate with like-minded people. There was a fair bit of cliquishness, and it was occasionally clear that the boss would prefer to interact with one group of students over another. I think this is a natural state of affairs, but I think that research advisers should act intentionally to counteract it.
- How we treated 1st years: I can't quite put my finger on it, but there was definitely a style of mentoring 1st years (usually by 2nd or 3rd years) that either worked really well (90% of the time) or didn't work at all. I think we could have done a better job there.
- Benign neglect: My adviser did a great job of training us to be independent scientists and people who could think critically about chemistry. There was very little micromanaging, which I was (and still am!) incredibly grateful for. However, there were times when I felt that it shaded into benign neglect, and that projects or students could occasionally languish. (I don't think it happened very often, which is why I'm putting it at the bottom of the list.)