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Chad Ostrander

Title: Assistant Professor
College: Mines & Earth Sciences
School / Department: Geology & Geophysics
Mentoring Philosophy:

I try to keep my mentoring philosophy simple. Most of the students I mentor are interested, or at least potentially interested, in becoming scientists. My philosophy therefore leans heavily on the application of the scientific method. Question: what are the questions worth asking? In most cases with young mentees, this burden is best navigated by the mentor. Research: what is the current state of knowledge? This is oftentimes the initial task for the mentee: to get acquainted with the current state of knowledge via existing literature and discussions with the mentor. Hypothesize: what do you think the answer to the question is? I think it is important to let the mentee formulate their own initial hypotheses; the mentor should abstain from providing input, at least at first. Test: what can we do to assess whether the hypothesis is correct or incorrect? For young mentees, formulation of the initial test(s) is probably best navigated by the mentor. Analyze: what do the collected data mean, and are they consistent or inconsistent with the favored hypothesis? This is another step I believe should be left to the mentee, at least at first, with minimal input from the mentor. With each successive application of the scientific method, a larger burden should be transferred to the mentee, with the penultimate goal being independence. Throughout the process I believe it is important to always leave room for initiative, and to allow mentees to make mistakes.