ENVR Mentoring Roundtable -- JSM 2017/2018

by Elizabeth Mannshardt (mannshardt@stat.ncsu.edu


The ENVR Board hosted graduate student mentoring sessions at JSM 2017 and 2018.  The mentoring sessions were designed to encourage diverse participation and engage students who may not normally have access to or interaction with more senior, advanced-career members of the ENVR community.  ENVR Mentors have experience across academics, industry, and government.   The ENVR mentoring session provided an opportunity for an informal "meet and greet" between ENVR mentors and mentees, as well as organized mentor/mentee activities.  Activities, based on a professional mentoring program, provided small group face-to-face time, opportunities for career discussions, and targeted coaching on “professional small talk”.   Large group discussions included Mentor Career Paths and Work/Life Integration versus Work/Life Balance.


We look forward to your future participation in an ENVR Mentoring Event!


Participants of the 2018 ENVR Mentoring Roundtable. 

2018 ENVR Mentors at JSM:

Peter Craigmile, Professor, The Ohio State University; Erin Schliep, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri; Elizabeth Mannshardt, Statistician, US Environmental Protection Agency.  Organizer: Alex Schmidt, McGill

2017 ENVR Mentors at JSM:

Montse Fuentes, Dean, College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University; Megan Higgs, Statistician with Neptune and Company and Past ENVR Chair; and Mevin Hooten, Associate Professor at Colorado State University.  Organizer: Elizabeth Mannshardt, US EPA



Mentee Feedback 

  • It was very useful to have mentors in different stages of their careers.
  • I really appreciate the mentoring opportunity
  • It was a fantastic experience for me to meet my peers and learn from senior members who have already established their reputation and career in the field that I am interested in.
  • I also like the idea about the integration of work and life, that is, trying to make the work enjoyable and be part of your life instead of thinking about how to balance the two parts.
  • The ENVR mentoring event helped me a lot about academic job search. Mentors shared their experience with me in following aspects: what kind of candidates do they expect to hire, how should graduate students and post doctoral scholar manage their time and prepare for the academic job search, and what should be and what should not be in statement of interest when applying for the job, etc. These suggestions can benefit every job seeker in academia, and it is worth continuing to have such event in the ENVR section in the future.
  • The mentoring event was one of the highlights this year at JSM for me. The mentors at the roundtable really conveyed a lot of information about their roles as environmental statisticians, providing a clearer and more nuanced picture of that career path, which I find very exciting! I enjoyed that the table was set up so that we could easily have one-on-one conversations with the mentors.


Mentor Feedback

  • It was invigorating to see the excitement and enthusiasm of the students and early career members. We had great discussions on differing career paths and navigating choices.  Chatting continued well beyond the time limits of the event, including an engaging discussion on the importance of communication in statistics and scientific disciplines.
  • I was excited by breadth of questions that the early career researchers had.  As the demands of graduate school seem to increase with every generation, I enjoyed our conversations about time management, and building a career path in statistics.
  • Participating in the mentoring roundtable provided a fun and informal way to get to know some of ENVR's student members. It was great to hear about the different career paths each student is considering and discuss the many exciting opportunities for statisticians across industry, government, and academia.
  • It was a lot of fun and I'm glad that ENVR will continue to host that round table in the future.
  • Such an important event; great to meet the students



Logistics for Sections or Chapters interested in hosting a similar Mentoring Event at JSM.  Note that in addition to being an important service for younger members, it is also a great recruitment tool for membership!  Further questions for implementation can be directed to ENVR Past Program Chair Elizabeth Mannshardt (mannshardt@stat.ncsu.edu).   Questions regarding applying for a Mentoring session (including volunteering as an ENVR Mentor!) should be sent to ENVR’s JSM 2019 Program Chair Ephraim Hanks (hanks@psu.edu)



Logistics for hosting at JSM as a Breakfast Roundtable

Worked out logistics with JSM program organizers to get a mentoring event in official JSM program.  Best format for this was determined to be a Roundtable.

ENVR bought out the breakfast roundtable – an investment of $200, ie $20/student

Program Chair asked Mentors

Program Chair submits abstract to JSM

  • JSM abstract had bio info, etc
  • One Mentors serves as “Speaker”
  • JSM abstract had link to website with app info


Participants applied by emailing one paragraph on interests – in part for matching

Participant bios distributed prior: mentee bios to mentors; mentor bios in JSM abstract and distributed to mentees ahead of time.

Mentees matched to Mentors prior

Matching is in part for seating at literal round table, with mentees seated next to matched mentors


Important Logistic/Consideration

Students/early career members are very interested in these types of events.  However, it may be hard to get the information to the students.  (For JSM in particular, target group is a very specific subset of students who are attending JSM.) Program Chair will need to proactively recruit – community board postings, newsletter announcements, website, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, personal emails to colleagues to encourage distribution of emails to students.



Elevator Speeches - By Mentors, then by Mentees within small group

Example questions, etc provided



Elevator Speech: Colloquial and Scientific

  • What would you say to a non-statistician to explain your work in a 30-second elevator ride?


  • In a 30-second elevator ride, how would you convince the Head of NSF that your grant should be funded or convince the CEO of your company to run with and fund your idea?


Questions for Mentors:

  • How did you decide on your research advisor/area?
  • Do you have one key piece of advice on job search process?
  • What do you look for in a job candidate (postdoc, tenure-track, full-time industry/gov, etc)?
  • Did you have a mentor in graduate school other than your adviser?
    • What did you learn from them?
  • How was your experience getting your first paper reviewed?
  • Is there a time that you have not gotten a position that you really wanted, or had a paper that you were very invested in not get accepted?
  • What were your original career goals?
    • What helped get you there/ what changed/ traditional path vs non-traditional?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?


Questions for Mentees:

  • Why did you decide to get your graduate degree?
  • What are your research interests?
    • What got you interested in this area?
  • Do you enjoying teaching/research/applications/consulting?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What job experience do you have?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1 year? In 5 years?  10 years?