Mentoring a Summer Student
The mentor-mentee relationship is essential to the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program (CPRTP) Summer Research Experience. The research resulting from this summer collaboration could be the gateway into future research in cancer prevention. Under the guidance of the faculty mentor, students will learn to:
- design a cancer prevention research project,
- think like a scientist,
- communicate to lay audiences,
- establish working relationships, and
- develop transferable career development skills.
These guidelines will educate faculty who are considering mentoring a summer student, as well as help the student identify potential mentors, and get the most out of the mentor relationship. The CPRTP is committed to providing trainees with a positive, productive and rewarding summer research experience, and subsequent career in cancer prevention and control, early detection and risk assessment.
Mentor Requirements and Mentor Matching
- One primary mentor is required. Two or more mentors are optional.
- The mentor must have a faculty or adjunct appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center preferably within the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences (DCPPS).
- Postdoctoral Fellows and Instructors may serve as co-mentors, as long as they are supervised by a faculty at the Assistant Professor level or higher.
- The proposed summer research project must be related to cancer prevention.
How to Find a Mentor
Applicants do not need a mentor to apply and will be matched with a faculty mentor by the CPRTP after notification of award.
To initiate the mentor matching process, awardees will use the search methods below and provide a minimum of six mentor choices within the Qualtrics survey furnished by the CPRTP after notification of award and acceptance by the trainee.
Search Method 1) The Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences (DCPPS) is comprised of the 5 departments listed below. Applicants may search within each department page which includes a list of faculty, support staff, and links to their institutional bio and research profile.
- Department of Epidemiology Faculty
- Department of Health Services Research Faculty
- Department of Behavioral Science Faculty
- Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention Faculty
- Department of Health Disparities Research Faculty
Search Method 2) View our list of mentors who have previously mentored or agreed to mentor a CPRTP summer student. Departments in italics denote faculty located outside of the DCPPS, but conducting research in cancer prevention.
Mentor Interviews & Matching Process
Mentor matching immediately follows notification of award in late February. The CPRTP will furnish each student with detailed mentor matching instructions, an interview form with questions, and contact information for each faculty listed within their responses to the Qualtrics survey.
Students will contact the faculty and/or assistant to schedule a 30-minute phone interview. In some cases, another staff member who works directly with the faculty such as a lab/program manager, postdoctoral fellow, or Instructor, will be interviewed instead. These individuals will take an active role in mentoring and managing the daily activities of the summer student, which will allow the faculty mentor to act more as a supervisor and oversee the summer cancer prevention research project.
During the interview, the trainee and potential mentor will discuss the following:
- The student’s previous research experience (if any)
- Whether the student’s research interests are in alignment with the faculty’s current projects
- The student’s ability to work independently
- Whether the student seeks lab experience or basic science experience
- Whether the current research is in cancer prevention
- The faculty’s expectations, summer travel, current work load (e.g., upcoming grant submissions)
- The anticipated number of mentored summer students
- Available space within their department
If a match is made early in the interview process (i.e., if the student interviews the first faculty on their list and both parties agree to work together), it is at the student’s discretion to pursue the remaining interviews. The student will rank each interviewed faculty, provide the completed interview forms to the CPRTP, and we will contact the faculty. Once the student and faculty are both in consensus--a match is made.
Students are strongly encouraged to communicate with their mentor frequently before the start of the program. This communication can involve any project pre-work such as reading articles and inviting the trainee to the department's MS Teams workspace. Students working on-campus should discuss recommended parking (if the student decides to drive to campus daily) and other commuting options with the mentor. The CPRTP can only direct students to the MD Anderson Parking Department to initiate a parking contract. MD Anderson has daily rate parking lots that may or may not be open to trainees, as well as contracted parking lots open to all MD Anderson employees. Students must confirm parking lot availability with the Parking Department (see the CPRTP Summer Program FAQs for more information).
After a student is matched with a faculty mentor, the CPRTP will email the mentor a Project Description (PD) form. The PD will be reviewed and approved by the CPRTP Program Director and may require revisions.
After the PD is approved, the trainee will receive a copy.
The Project Description outlines the following:
- CPRTP responsibilities
- Mentor responsibilities
- The trainee's supervisors and relevant supporting office staff members
- Cancer prevention research project, aims, and significance
- The trainee's research activities and responsibilities
- Appointment location
- Work schedule
- S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely)
- Products that could potentially result from this fellowship award (e.g., poster presentations at future oncology conferences)
- Where, when and how the trainee will report to the department on day one
Mentor Collaboration (During the Summer and Post-Summer)
Summer Program Start
The CPRTP Summer Research Experience will begin on the date listed on our summer program page at www.CancerPreventionTraining.org/Summer > Important Dates and Deadlines.
On the first day of the program, in-person students will report to the MD Anderson Office of Research Trainee Programs (RTP) to check in, pick up their ID badges, pick up their encrypted laptops, and complete any additional paperwork.
Following RTP check-in, all students, regardless of appointment location, will report to the CPRTP for a virtual two-day orientation from 11 am to 5 pm on day one and 9 am to 5 pm on day 2. The days and times are subject to change.
All students will report to their home department on day 3, virtually or in person.
The summer student will collaborate full-time, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, with the faculty mentor on a cancer prevention and control research project and participate in mandatory weekly educational and career development activities.
The home department will manage the student's timekeeping and required institutional training and provide any needed systems access (e.g., EPIC) and office supplies (e.g., lab coat). Because the student's internship is only ten weeks, the student is not required to clock in or out and receive paid time off, vacation, or holiday pay.
During the last week of the fellowship, the student will present a 90-second elevator speech and scientific poster during the CPRTP Summer Trainee Exposition. Depending on the COVID-19 pandemic policies, in-person students may be able to participate in the MD Anderson Summer Experience Poster Exhibition. Details and confirmation will be provided by the CPRTP at the start of the program.
Mentors will be invited to participate in an evaluation of the summer student and notify the CPRTP by July 15 if they would like to continue mentoring them. The mentor's office must submit paperwork to RTP by July 20 to reappoint the student beyond the end of the summer program. RTP requires three weeks to process reappointment paperwork.
It is typical for the collaboration between the student and mentor to continue well after the summer program ends. In fact, many students will submit products resulting from their summer research project and present at conferences such as the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO), Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM), and Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Since each student receives $1,000 in research support from our program, students usually save these funds to cover costs associated with travel to a conference, as these funds expire on November 30 of the program year.
For example: If your summer internship ends on August 11, 2023, you will have until November 30, 2023, to spend your research support funds or lose them. Depending on the conference location, travel expenses can reach $3,000, including registration, hotel, ground transportation, daily meals, and airfare. Fortunately, the CPRTP program can pay for airfare and registration up-front, but all other expenses (e.g., meals, hotel, ground transportation) must be paid out of pocket by the trainee and reimbursed. Using the $1,000 research support funds requires written pre-approval by the CPRTP, and reimbursement for pre-approved expenses will not exceed the $1,000 allowance. Students are encouraged to ask their mentors to cover any additional costs.
Mentors may elect to reappoint a summer student, compensated with mentor funds or uncompensated, after the conclusion of the summer program. The home department must notify the CPRTP by July 1 if they intend to reappoint the student. The CPRTP will complete a department transfer and terminate funding support by the end of the summer program. The home department will be required to order new computer equipment for the student, facilitate new ID badge pick-up, and obtain badge access to the office suite.
Resources for Summer Mentees
The following resources will help CPRTP summer students make the most of their mentoring relationship.
- Thoughts on Choosing a Research Mentor, NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education
- National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a national network of mentors and mentees from all biomedical disciplines relevant to the NIH mission.
- Mentoring - NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers
- How to be a Good Mentor and Mentee by the Fellows Committee (FelCom) - NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education. A quick guide for making the most of your time with your mentor(s).
For Mentors: Responsibilities & Financial Support
Required Training and Access
- Work space (e.g., desk, phone, cubicle keys)
- Departmental required training (e.g., lab safety training, department, institutional, human subjects)
- Institutional required training (e.g., sexual harassment, other MDA employee training required in the Education Center)
- Access to systems (e.g., EPIC)
- Access to other physical spaces (e.g., badge access to the department space or lab, break room)
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Lab coats, goggles or other lab and research materials.
- Any contingencies or other training required per the mentor's IRB, department, or research.
- Invest time in student and meet frequently to discuss summer cancer prevention research project.
- Allow adequate time to attend required CPRTP activities and assignments including: Cancer Prevention Grand Rounds, Tuesday Career Conversations, Thursday Group Sessions, Informational Interviews, Elevator Speech Workshops, and other required activities.
- Allow the student to conduct research (average 40/hours per week) for summer project.
- Provide feedback and guidance on rehearsed elevator speech, scientific poster, and educational abstract.
- Create a budget with the student for spending the $1,000 in research support provided by the NCI and CPRTP.
- Attend the CPRTP Summer Trainee Exposition during last week of the program, and encourage others within the department to attend.
- Provide space, phone access, and maintain KRONOS timekeeping for trainee.
- Help the trainee create, edit and publish their scientific poster and other products resulting from this research, and citing the grant award appropriately.
- Discuss and advise the trainee on future career development and training opportunities.
- Complete an evaluation of trainee upon trainee’s exit from the summer program.
- Submit paperwork to facilitate any fellowship reappointment, including obtaining a new ID badge, a new computer or other equipment.
- Notify the CPRTP by July 1 if you intend to reappoint the student beyond the end of the CPRTP summer program and have your office submit the required reappointment paperwork to the RTP by July 20.
- Pay the student a stipend from the NCI R25E training grant award, CA056452.
- Expedite initial appointment/employment paperwork and furnish copies to the home department.
- Provide career development activities including informational interviews, oral presentation skills, interviewing techniques, and other resources.
- Provide $1,000 in research support for travel, conference registration, lab supplies, books, and other expenses (Air B&B lodging, business cards and membership dues are not covered). The process for requesting the use of research support funds and reimbursement will during the first week of the program. As of January 1, 2023, the research support funds expire on November 30th following the end of the summer program. For example, if a 2023 summer trainee completes the CPRTP summer internship on August 11, 2023, the trainee has until November 30 to spend their $1,000 in research support funds or they will lose those funds.
- Manage the trainee's exit clearance process with the MD Anderson Office of Research Trainee Programs (RTP).
- Track trainee's honors and awards for grant progress reports and grant competitive renewal for life.
The CPRTP will manage the application, appointment, funding, and fellowship requirements of the summer student, including:
Resources for Summer Mentors
Mentoring a student is a major investment of time and energy. These resources will help establish and nurture this relationship, as well as address any challenges.
- Tips for Mentoring a Summer Student, Pat Sokolove, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Office of Intramural Training Education (OITE), National Institute of Health
- The NIH Guide for Training and Mentoring
- Guide to Training and Mentoring by Michael Gottesman, NIH Deputy Director of the Intramural Research Program (IRP).
- National Cancer Institute Mentoring Resources
Trainees and Mentors In Action
2017 CPRTP Summer Graduate Student, Mariana Henry (center) with mentors Dr. Maria Chavez-MacGregor (left) and Dr. Sharon Giordano (right), Chair of Health Services Research
2017 CPRTP Summer Graduate Student, Natasha Burse with mentor, Dr. Abenaa Brewster, Clinical Cancer Prevention
2016 CPRTP Summer College Student, Erika Dennis with mentor, Dr. Lorna McNeill, Chair of Health Disparities Research
2018 CPRTP Summer College Student, Noah Choi (center) with mentors, Dr. Lisa Lowenstein (left) and Ashley Housten (right), Health Services Research
2016 CPRTP Summer Medical Student, Guillermo Marquez with mentor, Dr. Susan Gilchrist, Clinical Cancer Prevention and CPRTP Directors Drs. Shine Chang and Carrie Cameron
2013 CPRTP Summer Medical Student, Scott Nimmons with mentor: Dr. Abenaa Brewster, Clinical Cancer Prevention and CPRTP Directors Drs. Shine Chang and Carrie Cameron
2012 CPRTP Summer Graduate Student, Adolfo Cuevas with mentor, Dr. Lorraine Reizel, Health Disparities Research (now Dept. Chair at University of Houston) and CPRTP Directors Drs. Shine Chang and Carrie Cameron