Dr. Crazy has an interesting post up today concerning a research breakthrough she just made based on the input of one of her mentors. As she describes it:
I’ve begun reading a book that I never would have read – or maybe I would, but I don’t know how I would have gotten to it given the other sorts of stuff I’ve been reading – that Eminent Awesome Wonderful Fun Mentor suggested when I saw her at a recent conference. I’m not entirely sure how she knew, after listening to me talk for only 2 minutes about NB, but this book? It is so freaking important to what I’m trying to say! It is like the missing link! And it’s not an obvious link – it’s a sort of weird connection to make, if that makes sense – but it’s exactly the way for me to get from point A to point B in my overall argument – something I hadn’t known how I’d manage.
W00T! However, she also concludes that she would not have had this person as a mentor if she had not ceased to have a mentoring relationship with her PhD thesis advisor:
I…wondered whether I would just disappear into obscurity because I was so cleanly and clearly cut off once my dissertation was defended and filed. I mean, what happens to people whose dissertation advisers forget they exist the moment that they’ve finished the dissertation? That’s a bad thing, right?
You know what? In my case, it has not been a bad thing at all. In fact, I think it’s been a great thing. Because you know why? I somehow have ended up with all of these awesome mentors – including people whom I totally admired and thought were rockstars and who I never thought I’d be, like, friends with – who do things like encourage me and recommend that I look at certain books and who do all the mentory things that my dissertation adviser does not do.
I’m not sure why she assumes that had she maintained a close mentoring relationship with her thesis advisor, she would not have formed additional close mentoring relationships as her career progressed.
I remain personally close to my thesis advisor, but have never relied on her for scientific professional mentoring since I left her lab. On the other hand, my post-doctoral mentor is still a valuable source of mentoring, and since I’ve been an independent investigator and faculty member, I’ve sought out various types of mentoring from a number of individuals both at my institution and elsewhere.
In fact, I would say that one of the most important skills of professional scholarship to develop is the ability to seek, find, and enlist a diverse portfolio of mentors throughout one’s scholarly career, each of whom provides a particular aspect of expertise and insight.
There is more cool shit in Dr. Crazy’s post, so go check the whole fucking thing out.