Past Mutual Mentoring Projects

2020 Grant Winners

The Center for Evolutionary Materials3 Group

The CEM3 Mutual Mentoring Program aims to assist early-career researchers in developing successful grant applications to the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DoE), and industrial research partners by building strong networks with program directors for research sponsors. The program aims to build social networks, especially among underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines, thereby facilitating mentoring that will allow scientists to “breakthrough” these invisible barriers. They will provide networking events that are designed to increase research collaborations between participants and increase funded research grants supported by the DoD, DoE, and industrial research partners. 

This team is led by Reika Katsumata, Polymer Sciences and Engineering, and includes Laura Bradley, Polymer Sciences and Engineering, Alfred Crosby, Polymer Sciences and Engineering, Jennifer Green, Polymer Sciences and Engineering, Duncan Irschick, Biology, and David Waldman, Polymer Sciences and Engineering.

The CNS Lecturers

This team plans to gather information and develop best practices to ensure that lecturers are engaged in departmental governance, decision-making, and leadership opportunities at a level that reflects the impact that they have on student learning and other important department functions. They intent to produce:

  • A repository, for the campus, of resources on roles for Lecturers regarding expectations for teaching, research and service obligations and for opportunities for advancement.
  • A report on Best Practices for involvement of Lecturers’ in department decision-making, governance, and workload assignment.
  • A list of Talking Points that can be provided to Departments to seed discussions about fostering participation of Lecturers within their departments, alignment of ranks Page 3 of 5 between different types of faculty positions, and possible changes to bylaws to reflect these practices.

This team is led by Amy Springer, Biochemistry and Molecular and includes Laura Francis, Biology, Alex Shreyer, Ecological Conservation, and Heath Hatch, Physics

The Publish, Not Perish: Mutual Mentoring for Productive authors in Plant Biology Group

A group of plant scientists from the Five Colleges team up to offer mutual mentoring on effectively publishing one’s work. They recognize that the “peers” in “peer review” are usually faculty members themselves, and seek to tap this resource for valuable insights. They all serve as reviewers to a multitude of journals, and several are journal editors handling manuscripts in multiple areas of plant biology. They plan plan to invite staff editors employed by certain journals and editors-in-chief from journals of interest. By sharing insights through the entire publication process, from writing a manuscript to final acceptance, they aim to promote a culture of effectively and efficiently publishing our research findings.

This team is led by Dong Wang, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and includes Ana Caicedo, Biology, Alice Cheung, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michelle Facette, Biology, Jeeyon Jeong, Biology (Amherst College), and Sibongile Mafu, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The STEM Women’s Interdisciplinary Group

This team will establish long-lasting cross disciplinary research collaborations among intellectually diverse women faculty with common scientific research interests. Developing group grant proposals and establishing a peer and inclusive mentoring group for women to help foster collaborations will be the one of the important goals of this project. They will achieve this by organizing meetings, brainstorming sessions, writing groups and informal coffee gatherings inclusive of students. By expanding the network beyond the team members during the grant period, our team wants to establish a group and provide space for women in STEM fields interested in interdisciplinary research to grow professionally.

This team is co-led by Manasa Kandula, Physics and Caitlyn Butler, Civil and Environmental Engineering; team members include Anne Gershonen, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Sarah Perry, Chemical Engineering, Maria Santore, Polymer Sciences and Engineering, and Jessica Schiffman, Chemical Engineering.


2019 Grant Winners

Women of Color Faculty Group 

The Women Faculty of Color Group (Blacklist) brings together self-identified women of color faculty in order to facilitate mentoring networks, community building and enhance the capacity of women faculty of color as talented leaders on the UMass Amherst campus and in their fields. It also fosters a social and scholarly community for processing and addressing the unique situation of women faculty of color in higher education. Through monthly lunch meetings, social gatherings, and writing retreats, the Blacklist creates a space for mutual mentoring and support for women faculty of color towards facilitating their retention at our pre-dominantly white university. Lastly, it also aims to generate discussions of how to achieve balance and quality of life given the desire for advancement and the need for connection.

Mari Castañeda (Communication), Benita Barnes (EPRA), Miliann Kang (WGSS), and Nefertiti Walker (Sport Management) 

Building Best Practices in Collaborative Award Management

This project aims to create better collaborative working operations in a critical aspect of team science – award management and execution – within the Sociology department, based on adapting best practices that work for all. The team members are a mix of junior faculty, senior faculty, and staff. Through a series of workshops and targeted discussions, the team intends to strengthen informal networks and relationships between junior faculty, senior faculty, and staff that are crucial to collaborative grant processes. The team aims for faculty will be to identify current challenges, gain a working knowledge of how to move through the grant process, and learn how to better coordinate with staff across various UMass organizations, including creating a handbook for best practices.

Mark Pachucki (Sociology), Jasmine Kerrissey (Sociology), Don Tomaskovic-Devey (Sociology), Jen Lundquist (Sociology), Kathryne Young (Sociology), Naomi Gerstel (Sociology), Tony Paik (Sociology), Sancha Medwinter (Sociology), Brian Sargent (Sociology) 

Women of Civil and Environmental Engineering

This team will host a proposal writing workshop centered on civil infrastructure. This workshop will invite researchers from the UMass system, the Five Colleges, and the New England region to spend 2-3 days at UMass Amherst sharing research expertise, forming collaborative teams, and writing portions of a proposal. The goal of the workshop is to enable inclusive research collaborations, span the inclusivity gap for women and URMs, provide the momentum to form these collaborations, and to leave the workshop with a portion of the proposal written.

Kara Peterman (CEE), Caitlyn Butler (CEE), Eleni Christopha (CEE), Emily Kumpel (CEE), Song Gao (CEE)