Won't You Be My Mentor?

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Photos of the Month - June 2019

Audrey Lengel, Photo Archivist

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mentors. A recent work project brought initiatives such as the eAlliances project and the IMPact program to my attention, both of which were created to connect students and professionals with mentors in their fields. eAlliances focuses on connecting women in physics and astronomy, and IMPact is targeted towards physicists in industry.

These fantastic programs are designed to introduce and foster mentors and mentees, providing a valuable service to both parties. Once established, a mentoring relationship requires dedication, nurturing, and emotional labor. Great mentors have the potential to transform someone’s career and help guide them as a scholar, researcher, and person.

This month, we’re drawing inspiration from physicists who have served as mentors in the past. We can learn from successful mentors like John Wheeler (in fact, you can read Terry M. Christensen’s History of Science Ph.D. dissertation on Wheeler’s mentoring techniques), Mildred Dresselhaus (who herself was mentored by Rosalyn Yalow), and James Stith (who discusses mentoring in his oral history interview), among others. Follow along with us on our Facebook and Twitter accounts as we showcase mentors this month and be sure to reach out to your mentee and/or thank your mentor at some point this month.

P.S. – Shout-out to my colleague Sarah Weirich, our Metadata Specialist, for inspiring this month’s theme!

John G. King of MIT, who mentored thousands of students throughout his career.

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

James Stith, who mentored numerous students while teaching at West Point, demonstrating the functionality of a piece of equipment to a student in a West Point, New York classroom.

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Esther Conwell, who, according to Robert K. Boeckman, Jr., Chair of the University of Rochester Department of Chemistry, “…served as a mentor to countless female scientists and engineers over the years, and has worked tirelessly for the cause of equality for women in science and engineering.”

Credit: General Telephone and Electronics Corporation, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

Renowned mentor John Wheeler, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, on December 9, 1996.

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

Portrait of Sandra Faber, May 1988. Faber, who was mentored by Vera Rubin, recently made a donation to UC Santa Cruz to help establish the Vera Rubin Presidential Chair for Diversity in Astronomy.

Credit: Photograph by Don Fukuda, University of California, Santa Cruz, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Gift of Dr. Faber

“Queen of Carbon” Mildred Dresselhaus, who mentored over 60 graduate students, photographed at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives in College Park, MD.

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives