Advising and mentoring are critical at all stages of one’s career in science. The program recognizes that successful mentoring involves not only research supervision, but also the development of professional skills and assistance with career planning. This usually is not a job that can be handled by a single faculty mentor. Thus the NGP uses multiple faculty and sources to mentor students. Entering students are assigned an academic mentor with whom they meet quarterly throughout their training. Students also meet as a group and individually with the NGP director each year to discuss aspects of the program. The NGP executive committee meets yearly to review student progress. During the first year, the focus is the fall core curriculum, research rotations, and the choice of a thesis lab. In the first year, students meet as a group with the NGP director at the end of each rotation and present their experience on the rotations.
In the second year, after completion of the oral exam and advancement to candidacy, the dissertation advisory committee (DAC) is chosen and assumes primary responsibility for assessing scientific progress. The DAC consists of 4-5 faculty members that are expert in the chosen research field and competent to evaluate research progress. They meet with the student no less than once every 6 months and provide a short written report on student progress to the NGP director and the NGP administrator. Each Spring, students complete the individual development plan (IDP) as well as an Annual Report that includes courses taken, talks given, papers published, fellowships received, dates of DAC meetings, and a narrative of progress on the thesis project. The NGP director and the academic mentor review these summaries and discusses with the student as necessary.