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Interpretive Summary: Triennial reproduction symposium: L.E. Casida Award for Excellence in Graduate Education: mentoring graduate students in animal science

By: Dr. Emily Taylor

The Journal of Animal Science has recently published a special topic on 'Mentoring Graduate Students in Animal Science.' Dr. Wettemann, the recent recipient of the American Society of Animal Science L.E. Casida Award for Graduate Education, discusses the importance of a mentor's approach in the longevity of an animal science graduate student. He believes that dedication to an effective research program is essential and requires resources, ideas, enthusiasm, and hard work. Specific research objectives within any lab are crucial; however, Dr. Wettemann states that opportunities for deviation and originality for new ideas should be encouraged. This is how students will ultimately solve the questions. 

Dr. Wettemann also describes a significant difference in the mentorship of MS and Ph.D. students because MS students may not be prepared to identify a research topic or hypothesis. At the same time, this is a significant component of a Ph.D. program. He believes that research early on in a graduate's career can change the thought process of research. Therefore, students should be involved during their first semester as graduate students to develop their mindset from an undergraduate perspective. 

In addition, building a relationship with your students via frequent discussions, daily meetings, and weekly updates is essential to their development as academics and research scientists. Working as a team and creating an environment where students can explain their results to small and large groups also aids in their development. 

In conclusion, Dr. Wettemann quotes Kennedy "There are risks and cost to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction." He believes that taking risks with a measured approach is unavoidable. It is the level of dedication to taking risks that will influence your research and graduate mentoring success.

This article is now available in the Journal of Animal Science.