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Mentoring, suicide and Harvard

C. J. Fuller cjfuller at mindspring.com
Sat Dec 12 02:14:31 EST 1998

In article <366C0249.E0C1E198 at salk.edu>, nospamforsburg at salk.edu wrote:

>The complete lack of positive feedback contributes to this-- 
> all anyone has ever wanted to tell me is what is wrong with 
>what I'm doing, and now that I'm on the faculty, this constant 
>criticism is more striking than ever. It's not that I can't take
>criticism, it's just that on occasion, it would be nice to hear "good
>job" when something goes well.  Instead, I find people are great at finding
>clouds over every silver lining.  (Paper got published?  It's in the wrong
>journal.  Grant got funded?  Not enough money.  Interesting result?
>Probably an artifact. Invited to a meeting?  Never heard of it....)  
>So, I try to give encouraging comments to my students and 
>postdocs regardless of how their experiments are doing.  But is that 

Susan-Now you know why I'm no longer at a medical school.  I didn't need
that sort of abuse anymore.  Here I work with a more supportive bunch of
people.  It's hard to win a Nobel Prize with a public university teaching
load, so we do what we can.  We cheer each other on when any grant gets
funded or any paper gets published, not just the ones in Journal of
Nutrition.  And I try to do that for my students, even the one who took
over 18 months to finish her MS thesis.

In addition to the encouraging words (sometimes concealing a cattle prod
to do the job), we have to be willing to listen to the issues that are
facing our students.  The aforementioned MS student opted to put herself
through grad school (she could make more $$ as an RN than as a TA or RA). 
She also was dealing with the care of a mother with  Alzheimer's disease
(who lived south of town) and finally placed her in an assisted living
center.  Sometimes you've got to give a little to get your target
performance from a student or postdoc.


C.J. Fuller
<mailto:cjfuller at erickson.uncg.edu>
<mailto:cjfuller at mindspring.com>

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