ENVR Mentoring at JSM 2021

ENVR has been offering the Mentoring Roundtables for Graduate Students since 2017. This event is usually organized together with other ENVR activities at JSM annually. It is designed to encourage diverse participation and engage graduate students who may not normally have access to or interaction with more senior, advanced-career members of the ENVR community.


This year, ENVR hosted this roundtable Mentoring session virtually on August 10, 2021. Dr. Maggie Johnson from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dr. Steve Sain from Jupiter Intelligence, and Dr. Ben Shaby from Colorado State University, joined as mentors, and 8 graduate students from different universities participated in this roundtable.

Maggie Johnson Steve Sain Ben Shaby
Maggie Johnson
Steve Sain
Jupiter Intelligence
Ben Shaby
Colorado State University

The event began with a panel discussion with the students and all of the mentors before breaking out into small group sessions that were formed to foster engagement and maximize participation. Mentors shared with students their experience across academics, industry, and national laboratories. They also provided suggestions on how students can prepare themselves during graduate school, including gaining experience via internship and building skill sets, including experience with programming tools and software development.  Students asked questions on a vast number of topics. Mentors generously shared their individual experiences regarding career tracks in different work settings, and provided suggestions on time management, building collaborations, and career developments.

Overall, the student participants were impressed with this opportunity to have personal conversation with mentors. The atmosphere was casual, and mentors enjoyed meeting with the students. Students got the opportunity to have focused discussion and interaction.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback, the organizers are convinced that students need such mentoring opportunities. Suggestions from students and mentors included making the event longer and providing ways for students to follow up with mentors. ENVR is looking forward to offering another mentoring event like this during JSM 2022. Stay tuned!

Students’ feedback:

  • It was great to get different perspectives from statisticians working in environmental applications.
  • I really loved the structure and different career tracks represented. I liked how there was a general discussion with the large group and then breakouts for smaller groups. The size of the smaller groups (2-3 people) was also perfect, as it gave everyone a chance to ask questions.
  • I really enjoyed having such personal conversations with statisticians from three different work settings and hearing their interactions. I also thought the platform was great and enabled a nice atmosphere, as close to a conference feeling as you can make online! *
  • The session was very interesting and interactive. The mentors shared their experiences and opinions about the available opportunities in industry as well as in academic field. That helped a lot for me to reconsider my future career plans.

* This event was held via the online social gathering platform, Wonder.