Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Graduate Fellowship

Implementation Plan - March 2017

The Fellowship will be awarded to a student in a different graduate field for each of the five years, such that all five fields in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) will be represented. To get things started, the first award (August 2017) will be for a student in Horticulture. The order of participation by the remaining fields will be: Year 2 - Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology; Year 3 – Plant Biology; Year 4 – Soil and Crop Sciences; Year 5 – Plant Breeding and Genetics.

Awardees will be chosen by their respective fields based on demonstrated excellence in mentoring one or more undergraduate students. The mentoring experience will typically involve a Cornell undergraduate student pursuing a research project with the guidance of the mentor (and the chair of the mentor’s thesis special committee). It is important that the selection of Fellowship awardees be based on the impact of the mentoring relationship on identified undergraduate mentees. That is, a typical award will involve an established and ongoing mentoring relationship (and associated research project and learning outcomes) for a pair of students (undergraduate mentee and graduate mentor).

The awardees will be supported for the 9 month (2 semesters) academic year.

Upon completion of the Fellowship, the mentor, mentee, and the respective Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will meet to assess the impact of the mentoring relationship and outcomes of the project, and highlights will be promoted to SIPS students and the Cornell community using social and print media. Award-related news posts will emphasize the contribution of graduate student mentorship to the rich undergraduate experience at Cornell and highlight the personal and career significance of the Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship to the graduate student awardees. It is hoped that publicizing the award through CALS and Cornell media will inspire more undergraduates to take advantage of research opportunities.

Annually, a Graduate Student Forum for Excellence-in-Mentoring will be held. The primary purpose of this gathering is to enable the many graduate students who are engaged in undergraduate mentoring activities to report highlights of their activities (for example, through short summary statements for inclusion in an archivable meeting program) and discuss problems, best practices, and new ideas for maximizing the impact of mentoring activities. The Fellowship awardee for the year will make a brief report, and a student and/or faculty-chosen speaker may also be a feature of these meetings. DGSs and the Plant Sciences Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) also would be expected to participate, and the meeting would help inform the decision process for selecting the next Fellowship awardee and provide material for updating the SIPS website. The participation of the DUS will be important for informing the group about needs and opportunities from the perspective of the undergraduate community. To facilitate ongoing discussion among graduate students and faculty, the meeting could occur in the context of a luncheon or afternoon reception.