Improving the Mentoring Relationships of Gilliam Fellows and their Mentors

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study promote the development of scholars who will assume leadership roles in science, especially among college and university faculties responsible for developing the next generation of scientists.

The fellowships are open to PhD students motivated toward careers as academic scientists and who represent racial, ethnic, and other underrepresented groups in science, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and who are committed to the advancement of diversity and inclusion in science.

To complement those efforts CIMER prepared and hosted a mentor-mentee relationship training package consisting of in-person meetings combined with online modules, presented through the lenses of inclusion, equity, and cultural awareness. The training package provides concrete, evidence-based strategies that promote effective mentorship practices and to maximize professional development activities hosted on the HHMI campus.

Drs. Pfund, Byars-Winston and Black delivered all content as co-facilitators.

Training started with a face-to-face session  for the Gilliam Fellows at HHMI in September 2016. This mentee training session was followed up with monthly online modules for the Gilliam mentors, which included interactive, facilitated webinars complemented by several self-paced modules aimed at enriching mentorship skill development.

The facilitators created a cohort among the Gilliam Fellows mentors by encouraging the exchange of peer-peer knowledge to increase rapport, and by creating a safe environment for sharing personal mentoring challenges and successes.

In April 2017 HHMI hosted a 1.5 day training for the Gilliam Fellow mentors delivered by the facilitators, titled ‘Culturally Aware Mentoring: Enhancing Your Skills’. This event represented the culmination of training of the Year 1 curricula and facilitated mentors’ critical discussion and self-reflection about cultural diversity, both as individuals and within their research mentoring relationships with a focus on culturally aware mentoring practices.

Topics included culture self-awareness, promoting research self-efficacy, raising issues of culture in the research mentoring relationship, and putting culturally aware principles into practice.  The April training was highly rated by mentors. In subsequent years of this grant, for the 2017 and 2018 cohorts, we will continue to improve the online interactive community experience. 


Christine Pfund


Completed on December 31, 2019

Contact Information

Christine Pfund