Dept Creates Mentoring Program for Jr Faculty

By Wendy Plump
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

The Department of Chemistry has initiated a mentoring program for junior faculty, drawing on years of informal guidance to codify adviserships that demystify the tenure-track process.

The new program will provide a clear understanding of the teaching, research, and administrative resources available to junior faculty, according to Department leadership. It will target those already on staff as well as incoming hires and is effective immediately.

“We are delighted to be adding a program that will support the careers of our junior faculty as they negotiate the path to tenure,” said Department Chair Greg Scholes, the William S. Tod Professor of Chemistry. “We’ve all been there and we can easily recall the challenge of doing research, building a lab, and recruiting students while simultaneously meeting the rigorous demands of the tenure application process.

“We believe this program, which has the full support of our faculty, will provide enormous benefit.”

Frick Laboratory
Interior shot of Princeton Chemistry's Frick Laboratory.
Photo by Jon Darmon

Under the new program, junior faculty will be assigned a tenured mentor within their subfield to host regular meetings throughout the year. The Department will also provide one-on-one workshops, best practices in teaching and pedagogy, two annual meetings with the chair, chalk talks, and detailed feedback from the full faculty on the tenure trajectory facing each individual.

“When I was a young faculty member years ago, I didn’t have a mentoring program,” said Salvatore Torquato, the Lewis Bernard Professor of Natural Sciences, Professor of Chemistry and the Princeton Materials Institute. “Coming at it from that point of view, I see tremendous value in a senior faculty who you can have confidence in to shepherd you through the process. I wish I’d had it. The tenure application process is not trivial.”

As an assistant professor hired in 2020, Marissa Weichman will be one of the first to be able to take advantage of the new program.

“I'm thrilled to see our department launch a mentoring program for junior faculty,” Weichman said. “I've learned that when you're starting a new group, it's essential to build a network of mentors who can help you strategize about all facets of the process and how to juggle research, teaching, and service.  A built-in program will go a long way to help new faculty forge these mentoring relationships.”

Any questions about the program can be directed to Meredith LaSalle-Tarantin, the Department’s manager for student programs and diversity and inclusion initiatives.