Bayer mentorship program to boost doctoral students’ career success

The Bayer mentorship program recently welcomed the 2024 class at UNL.
The Bayer mentorship program recently welcomed the 2024 class at UNL.

by Geitner Simmons | IANR Communications

Ten Ph.D. students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln are participating in the 2024 class of a mentorship program sponsored by Bayer Crop Science. The program aims to boost young scientists’ career success by rounding out their capabilities and understanding beyond technical achievements in the laboratory or in the field.

Collaborative skills and effective work-life balance are among the focus for the program, in which Bayer partners with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Research Division and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Husker mentees in the 2023 class described the program as “transformative” and “incredibly supportive.”

Initial activities by the new class of mentees, all doctoral students, included virtual participation in a March 12 global kickoff with nearly 500 participants.

The 2024 mentees are Shabani Muller, School of Natural Resources; Yu Shi, School of Biological Sciences; Akashdeep Kamboj, Alyssa Hall, Jensina Davis and Deepak Ghimire, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Sanket Shinde, Department of Entomology; Shilu Dahal, Department of Plant Pathology; Iyore Eronmwon, Department of Agricultural Economics; and Jeremy Brown, Department of Biochemistry.

“After a successful inaugural year in 2023, we are excited to be offering the Bayer mentoring program once again in 2024,” said Corby Jensen, a Bayer scientist in Nebraska who oversees late-stage testing of new products in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado and coordinates the mentorship program at UNL. “We are encouraged and impressed with both the number and quality of graduate student applicants.”

The program helps grad students on multiple fronts: personal and career goal-setting; assessment of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses via Gallup’s CliftonStrengths analysis; understanding private-sector scientific culture; networking; and honing soft skills such as effective communication and constructive collaboration skills.

Bayer scientists volunteer to provide one-on-one mentorship. The program also includes webinars, site visits, and online and in-person events. The mentoring aims to help late-stage graduate students understand how to be successful in their career regardless of whether it is in academia, the private sector or another area.

The Bayer program is now in place in 27 universities in North America and plus 10 other universities worldwide.

UNL’s participation started in the wake of conversations among Tala Awada, the ARD associate dean; Tiffany Heng-Moss, the CASNR dean; and Bayer’s Jensen and Pat Morgan. Morgan, a crop physiology specialist in St. Louis who leads a team of Bayer field-testing scientists, is also a Bayer Science Fellow, with duties for public outreach including the mentorship program.

Heng-Moss and Awada are sponsoring the program. Keenan Amundsen, CASNR’s faculty fellow of graduate education, is UNL’s primary contact for the initiative.

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