Mentoring skills aren't as readily taught as cell culture or microarray analysis, but on the receiving end, such skills can make or break a career. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have devised a way to address what they call a critical gap in faculty training, and they have reported their outcomes in a recent issue of Science (311:473-4, Jan. 27, 2006).

Based on a survey of more than 150 mentors and undergraduate researchers, trained mentors were significantly more likely to discuss expectations with their mentees, who reported that the trained mentors were more accessible and interested in them. Results of the program suggest that "mentors are simply communicating more effectively with their undergraduates so that undergrads have a more realistic view of their own capabilities," explains Jo Handelsman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor at UW-Madison and director of the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching (WPST), which produced the...

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