CMC lab Computational Machinery of Cognition

Lab’s mentorship philosophy

CMC lab considers preparing the next generations of scientists, engineers, clinicians, etc as one of their core responsibilities to society as an academic unit. Thus, we would love to contribute to both aspects of this responsibility (training and mentoring the next generations).

Our mentorship is based on the following principles:

Adaptive supervision: We believe the flexibility of the lab PI is a key strength. Undergraduate and PhD students (and even post-docs sometimes) perform their best under different forms of supervision. For instance, some prefer step-by-step guidelines, some rather prefer long-term plans and way more freedom on a daily basis. Thus, the mentor and mentee should identify together the most suitable supervision method.

Scholarship beyond research: In our lab mentor should provide mentees the training for all aspects of scholarship rather than just research. That includes, for instance, peer-review, by involving them in the peer-review processes, and particularly train them to criticize with kindness (Daniel Dennett’s four steps of criticizing); Open scholarship and reproducibility, and not just as a mandatory practice, but as valuable action for science and society; and many more that the lab values in the supervision.

Lab’s success is tied to the success of the mentees: One of the most important criteria for academic success should be based on judging the next generations they trained. This ranges from trivial matters, such as publishing papers, to joining good labs as a graduate students and post-docs, to becoming mature scientists and establishing their own lab. The mentor should try her/his best to optimize mentees trajectory, thus s/he needs to communicate timely and provide them feedback (both positive and negative) frequently. Lastly, Mentor is also responsible to help them to prepare for and plan the next stage of mentees’ career, by providing them with timely hints on the critical actions they need to take according to their career stage.

Metal health: The mental health of the lab members should be one of the most important concerns of the PI. Our lab PI (Shervin) had the chance to be one of the ombudspersons at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics for four years and also a PhD representative. These contributions taught him how critical it is to care about mental health in academia; and how severe the lack of accountability can affect students. Thus, it is the responsibility of the lab PI to take any action needed to maintain a healthy lab. The principles mentioned above are some of the key contributing factors, and in addition to those, the following is also needed to maintain the the mental health of the lab: we need to normalize the failure (e.g., rejection of a paper), we might frequently face such failures in our academic career; we need to foster teamwork and collaboration in the lab, not only because of the moral support it creates but also create multiple sources of success for members of the lab; lastly, lab PI, needs to make sure that the lab will remain sufficiently organized that allow smooth and stressless workflow for all members.