HWISE Mentorship Highlight Dr. Sera Young and the Young Research Group

The Young Research Group in 2017.

We are excited to feature the amazing work of one of HWISE-RCN’s executive committee members, Dr. Sera Young, for our inaugural “Mentorship Highlight.” With this new feature, we hope to shine a light on the innovative models our members are utilizing to foster junior scholars. 

Dr. Sera Young is a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University and the leader of the Young Research Group. Dr. Young works alongside a group of Ph.D. students, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergrads “to better understand the determinants of healthy mothers and children across diverse geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic contexts.” 

“I think mentorship is important because I have experienced terrific mentoring and terrible mentoring; I’ve learned important things from both types of experiences. 

Academic success does not often come easily.  So, showing and telling how things work— lifting up the veil to show how a grant gets written, a paper gets reviewed, or analyses are done in a replicable way, collaboration is maintained even during rough patches— will hopefully make it that much easier for the next bright minds!

We created a mission statement collaboratively, a few years back. These are the principles on which we try to operate – see below.” [Dr. Sera Young]

The core values of the Young Research Group.

Josh Miller, the research coordinator of the Young Research Group, stated that “Sera is a compassionate mentor, effective leader, and outspoken advocate for junior scholars. 
“Sera employs innovative pedagogical methods to convey valuable information, promote thoughtful discussions, and inspire her mentees to follow their passions. Individuals who work with Dr. Young are offered unique opportunities (e.g. developing a scientific manuscript as an undergraduate) that are not available to most undergraduates. Further, the students she advises develop leadership skills that distinguish them from their peers when applying for jobs or graduate school. I know this from experience: for the past five years, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Dr. Young.
“Dr. Young is kind and compassionate. She has distilled the ethos of the lab into six core values: scientific excellence, professional development, effective communication, meaningful productivity, systematic organization, and “whole self”. Although she embodies each, it is her commitment to “whole self” that makes working with her so enjoyable and productive. Dr. Young encourages students to share their passions, both academic and otherwise, and creates a psychologically safe environment for all individuals. By promoting such an inclusive workspace, team members feel comfortable sharing their true insights, leading to more engaging and thought-provoking discussions.
“Despite her busy schedule, she meets weekly with her mentees and takes the time to identify potential solutions to problems raised. She also promotes the intellectual and social growth of team members by encouraging them to take on challenging projects, providing opportunities to lead the development of manuscripts, and connecting students with other professionals within her network.”
Dr. Roseanne Schuster, a former Ph.D. student of Dr. Young, stated that “Sera fosters a collaborative environment where scholars of all levels are brought to the table to generate and share ideas. This creates peer-to-peer as well senior-to-junior mentorship so that whatever one’s level –  junior scholars, postdocs, staff, graduate students, or undergraduates – your insights are valuable to others. Sera also transmits enthusiasm for science and collaboration through the team, driving motivation on multiple fronts.”

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