Jill Dowen Mentoring Philosophy

I have the privilege to lead a research team that seeks to advance knowledge of gene regulation. My personal and professional relationship with mentees is guided by a deliberate strategy. The elements of this strategy include: skills development, communication, appreciating individual differences, availability, building a scholarly community, strategic planning, and networking. I strive to use active questioning and find ways to support mentees.

Project planning: When we discuss projects, I encourage team members to start with a vision of what the perfect paperwould look like. What will be novel? What will be the conceptual advance? After establishing a big goal, we work our way backwards to the current stage of the project and develop a plan for how to proceed.

Strategic planning: Every six months I have a strategic meeting with each team member. This is not about the details of their projects, but rather the 10,000 foot view of where they are going. I lay out my expectations for their success. They tell me how I can help them achieve their goals.

Communication is imperative for success in the lab and beyond. In team meetings I like to ask clarifying questions. Trainees learn to speak and write precisely by practicing their best versions of presentations during group meeting and manuscript writing.


Am I making sufficient progress in my training?  This document is a good resource from the Van Andel Institute for how students should be developing during the course of their graduate training.


Dowen Lab Activities

  • Jill participates in TEAM ADVANCE Faculty Mentor Training, Fall 2020.
  • Dowen lab watches the documentary file “Picture a Scientist”.