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Mentoring and Professional Development

A mentor is expected to provide the following to the postdoctoral trainee:

  • Provision and maintenance of a research environment that is conducive to the postdoctoral scholar’s research and scholarly development.
  • Mentoring in all relevant/applicable areas of professional development including grant writing, written and oral communication skills, manuscript preparation and teaching skills.
  • Career counseling and assistance in job placement, including timely submission of letters of reference.
  • Assistance in developing a professional development plan. MyIDP is one (free) example of a source for developing such a plan. The Graduate School also provides an IDP for grad students that can be used for postdocs.
  • Annual review of the postdoctoral trainee’s progress.

Applying for Grants

Grant-writing skills and careful administration of resources arising from grants are critical to the future success of postdoctoral trainees. With approval by the divisional dean, department chair and faculty mentor, postdoctoral scholars can serve as the co-principal investigators for grants and contracts and, in some instances, as principal investigators. Accompanying the approval of the preceding levels of authority, however, is the responsibility for the chair and dean to ensure that the postdoctoral scholar is cognizant of all obligations and responsibilities associated with PI status. Normally, postdocs who qualify for PI and co-PI status are well advanced in their training with experience in directing research, managing budgets and supervising employees, and who also understand the rules, regulations and policies of the university and the sponsoring agency.

Professional Development Opportunities

We encourage all University of Missouri (MU) postdocs to be intentional in planning for professional development to help meet their career goals. The following resources are available for MU postdoctoral professional development.

  • National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) – The University of Missouri institutional membership to NPA provides free access to online resources as well as virtual professional development events. Visit this page to learn how to active your free member profile.
  • MU Postdoctoral Association (MUPA) – MUPA hosts frequent networking and professional development events for postdocs. These opportunities are typically advertised via the postdoc listserv (MUPDA). The Graduate School and MUPA emails monthly newsletters as well as, more frequently, timely event announcements, so please check your email for upcoming opportunities.
  • gradEssentials – The Graduate School provides a robust professional development program for graduate students and postdocs called gradEssentials. The gradEssentials program offers virtual and in-person sessions throughout the academic year on topics related to research, teaching, leadership and communication, inclusive excellence, and more.
  • Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Seminar Program – The PFF Seminar Program (GRAD 9010/9020) helps prepare graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for faculty careers and the academic job market. Interested grad students and postdocs must apply to participate.
  • ResearchFRST Development Series – The Division of Research, Innovation, & Impact hosts professional development sessions to guide faculty and advanced researchers (e.g., doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows) in finding funding as well as writing and managing grants.
  • MU Libraries – The MU Libraries provides a number of services and resources for researchers. Visit their page for Researchers for extensive online resources as well as links to upcoming workshops.
  • Teaching for Learning Center (T4LC) –  The campus Teaching for Learning Center offers resources and support for MU instructors as well as grad students, postdocs, and faculty looking to improve their teaching proficiency and skills. Visit their website to browse their resources and view upcoming workshops and events.