Mentoring Postdoctoral Scholars

As negotiated by AAUP, all postdoc mentors will be required to attend a mentor training program offered by Research & Graduate Studies. Mentor training events will be held at least once annually and more frequently as needed.

Postdocs are trainees and employees, and thus hiring a postdoc requires a commitment to mentoring and training. Expectations include:

  • A commitment to advancing the career of the postdoc. This involves regular and thoughtful discussions of the strengths and limitations of ongoing research as well as attention to the development of skills and experiences that will advance the individual's career. This might include helping the scholar learn to write successful grant proposals and research papers and to develop mentorship skills as well as opportunities to develop teaching skills.
  • A commitment to a collaborative process of identifying clear and achievable research goals for the postdoc.
  • Provision of the resources necessary to conduct the agreed upon activities.
  • Recognition and acknowledgment of achievements of the postdoc within the broader scientific community. Commonly this will include sponsoring the postdoc to present research findings as the first author at professional meetings and introducing him/her to your professional peer network.

The success of our postdoctoral scholars depends on the mentorship and stewardship of our faculty mentors. The mentor is responsible for developing, in concert with the postdoc, a plan of research and the goals, objectives, and expectations of the training program.

An essential tool to help you achieve supervisory responsibilities is the Individual Development Plan (IDP). The postdoc and mentor should collaborate to complete an IDP within three months of the postdoc's hire date.

After it is signed by both the mentor and postdoc, the IDP must be submitted to the Office of Research & Graduate Studies for review by the VP or AVP for RGS. IDPs should be submitted via email to:

Mentors should provide postdocs with professional development experiences, some of which are available through PSU and its partnering institutions. Visit Research & Graduate Studies’ Postdoctoral Scholars page for more postdoc resources, including professional development and funding opportunities.