Information for Faculty Mentors

Information for faculty mentors

Thank you for considering becoming a WMF faculty mentor and thank you to all returning faculty mentors!

Each year we place 50-55 students in laboratories across Penn State and we excited to do it again. This page outlines the program for faculty mentors and their associated responsibilities, and hopefully answers questions about the program.

*We kindly ask that you forward this website to your colleagues, including those new to your department who may be interested in participating. 

WMF Mentor Responsibilities

As a mentor we ask that you provide a positive and fulfilling research experience for the student(s) working in your research group. The student should be engaged in a meaningful project and have data to collect that will address their research question.

Each mentor has a webpage that contains their contact information, research group info, and a description of the research project(s) that a student intern might become involved in.

Student time commitment

Students should spend 5 hours per week on all lab-related activities, including laboratory meetings, training, readings, and other associated research activities. We understand that this is not a significant amount of time, but the goal of the program is to introduce students to the process of doing research and hopefully sparking their interest while not overwhelming them during what can be a tough first year. What if a student would like to work more than the 5 hours required by this program? If this is the case, you are welcome to pay them an hourly wage or work with your department to create a independent study for any time exceeding the 5 hours required by WMF.

Selection Process

Students apply to WMF through an online application system. In addition to grades, short answer responses, and personal info, students are asked to select three faculty mentors they are interested in working with after reviewing the WMF research opportunities website. In some cases laboratories are selected by a large number of applicants, while other labs may not be selected. If your laboratory is selected by an applicant then you will have the opportunity to review their application, interview the student (optional), and decided if this is someone you would like to work in your lab. This process is done online starting in early November and you will be emailed with directions on how to access the website to view student applications. Once faculty submit their applicant ratings, we review them along with the student rankings (and their application info) and place as many students as we can monetarily support in the most compatible labs. We notify all faculty of the student placements prior to notifying the students of their acceptance.

Student Laboratory/Research Support

Faculty may get reimbursed up to $400 per semester per student for allowable purchases (supplies and/or software) directly related to student research projects. For detailed information on allowable expenses and how to get reimbursed for purchases please download the following PDF. *Unused funds go directly to supporting additional WMF students, so please use the funds, but only if needed.

Potential issues

While the majority of the WMF student intern/faculty mentor pairings work out exceedingly well, there are a few cases each year where these relationships are difficult. If you are having issues with your student intern not responding to email, completing their 5 hours/week on research activities, or other general issues please reach out to us so that we may help.

WMF Research Symposium

Dr. Allison Beese at PSU, in conjunction with the NASA PA Space Grant, host a yearly WMF Research Symposium to highlight the wonderful work that the students complete over the course of their internship. This year’s event will be held in November, during which students give poster presentations on their research project to their peers, faculty, and friends. This is a nice opportunity to guide your student in the art of creating a research poster (they will need some guidance) and how to succinctly explain their project. Please encourage your WMF student intern to attend and present! Cost associated with poster printing can be covered using the student laboratory/research support described above. For more information on this symposium please see the menu item or click here.

Program Timeline for Faculty Mentors

  • September 18th, 2020 – Faculty acceptance/decline for program and website lab edits are due
  • October 1st, 2020 – WMF applications are available
  • November 1st, 2020 – WMF applications are due
  • November 4th, 2020 – Email sent to faculty with information on accessing student applications
  • November 4th-20th, 2020 – Faculty review of applicants/interviews
  • November TBD, 2020 – WMF Research Symposium (for the 2020 student intern cohort)
  • November 23rd, 2020 – Faculty applicant student evaluations are due
  • late December, 2020 – Students/faculty are notified of student placements
  • Selected students begin their internship in January, 2021: two semesters spring 2021 and fall 2021 semesters (the internship does not extent into the summer)