Myles Cockburn

Photo by: Ziva Santop/ Steve Cohn Photography
Photo by: Ziva Santop/ Steve Cohn Photography

Keck School of Medicine of USC

Advancements in science are achieved in small steps and increasingly by collaborative teams. In the university setting, an effective approach to establishing a creative and dynamic research team is to ensure the inclusion of graduate students in the design and implementation of research studies— and that extends beyond the simple benefit of “free labor.”

Not only do students expect to receive an education, but they also should (appropriately) expect to receive substantial practical and life skill mentoring in how to Make It All Work in the Real World. Not only is engaging in effective mentoring an obligation for university faculty, but it is also enormously beneficial to the research team—whereas a professor or principal investigator can bring experience and global perspective, graduate students bring enthusiasm, energy, new ideas and approaches and usually a greater understanding of current technology, all of which continually refreshes the research agenda. The graduate school experience should be a complete preparation for life after college, and should include a balance of academic, practical and life skills education, all of which are required for, and can be summarized as, “effective mentoring.”