2018 Mentoring Grants to Support Junior Researchers of Color

Two research grantees and four William T. Grant Scholars have been awarded grants to support their development as mentors to junior colleagues. The awardees will mentor promising doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows in enhancing their methodological skills, publication records, and career networks.

The mentoring grants program is designed to help Scholars and research grantees hone their skills and abilities as mentors and help researchers of color reach higher levels on the career ladder. The award encourages grantees to be strong mentors attuned to the career development challenges disproportionately faced by their junior colleagues of color.

Applicants to the program assess their current strengths and weaknesses as mentors and propose goals for improving their mentoring skills. They and their mentees also assess the mentees’ strengths and weaknesses and design a mentoring plan that will strengthen the mentees’ potential for a successful research career.

This year’s mentoring grantees are:

Elizabeth Cauffman, University of California, Irvine
Elizabeth Cauffman is a research grantee. She is currently supervising four doctoral students and one postdoctoral fellow, and she oversees a research team of 15-18 undergraduate students. In addition, she mentors ten young scholars of color, including eight undergraduate students and two doctoral students. She identifies three ways she hopes to improve her mentoring. First, she would like to develop more effective mentoring relationships to best promote the goals of young scholars of color and help them in overcoming the unique challenges they face. Second, she would like to provide an inclusive and supportive scholarly environment for her mentees while also upholding high expectations for generating innovative research. Third, she seeks to enhance her mentoring style to better support students who may have research or professional goals that diverge from her own. The award will support her mentee, Emily Kan, a first-year Asian American doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Kan’s research focuses on how different levels of juvenile justice system involvement impact youth’s lives into adulthood.


Mesmin Destin, Northwestern University
Mesmin Destin is a second-year William T. Grant Scholar. As one of the few scholars in his department from an under-represented minority group, he has had the opportunity to mentor a number of doctoral and undergraduate students from similar backgrounds. He has had fewer experiences mentoring junior colleagues that are closer to his own position, but he recently mentored two postdoctoral scholars and two new female junior faculty members in his department. Destin wants to use this award to cultivate a culture among his mentees that incorporates collaboration and interpersonal sharing so that individuals can bring their whole selves into their work. Second, he wants to enhance his own ability to leverage and share his own experiences and struggles with mentees. Third, he wants to connect mentees with networks and opportunities that are critical to their success. The award will support his mentee, Régine Debrosse, a postdoctoral fellow in the psychology department at Northwestern University. Debrosse’s research aims to investigate how youth having a non-dominant background in terms of racial/ethnic identity, immigrant background, or economic status can lead to perceived mismatches in their career aspirations.


Leah Doane, Arizona State University
Leah Doane is a third-year William T. Grant Scholar who has mentored six graduate students and ten undergraduate honors students. She identifies three learning goals related to mentoring. First, she would like to develop strategies to mentor junior scholars of color and supervise the advancement of their research, while also guiding them towards scholarly independence. Second, she would like to learn about and connect students to opportunities and resources for under-represented scholars to further their professional development locally and nationally. Third, she would like to learn how to mentor broadly (i.e., development of scholarly identity) and narrowly (i.e., specific techniques used in her research), including the advancement of strategies to promote the balance of opportunities and resources for students of color and their differing needs. The award will support her mentee, HyeJung Park, a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. Park’s research interests focus on examining whether familism and parent-adolescent relationships are associated with changes in depressive symptoms as Latino adolescents transition into higher education.


Daphne Hernandez, University of Houston
Daphne Hernandez is a research grantee who has extensive experience mentoring first-generation college students, women, and racial/ethnic minority undergraduate and graduate students. As an assistant professor, she has not mentored post-doctoral scholars, but with her promotion to associate professor in the fall, more of those opportunities will arise. She is interested in helping mentees transition more smoothly from following her direction to developing greater research autonomy. She is also interested in seeking guidance on how to mentor researchers with different backgrounds and needs at varying stages of their education. Finally, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of cultural differences that exist among Asian Americans. The award will support her mentee, Nipa P. Kamdar, as a postdoctoral fellow. Kamdar completed a doctorate in Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Kamdar’s research interests center on reducing socio-economic inequalities that contribute to decreased food access among the children of military veterans enrolled in community college.


Jacob Hibel, University of California, Davis
Jacob Hibel is a second-year William T. Grant Scholar who has had a number of opportunities to work with and mentor talented students of color throughout his career. He is currently serving as a primary advisor to one Latino student and a mentor to two African American students. Hibel proposes to use this award to improve his ability to “mentor the whole person” by providing academic supports, access to material resources, financial support for conferences, and opportunities to connect with other scholars. He also plans to develop skills and strategies for actively supporting his mentees’ work-life integration and protecting them from burdensome experiences that disproportionately fall on students of color. The award will support his mentees Asia Ivey, a first year doctoral student in the department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, and Jeremy Prim, a second year doctoral student in the same program. Both are graduates of HBCUs. Ivey’s research interests focus on how school structures reproduce the traumas of poverty that students experience during everyday instruction, and Prim’s research centers on how the implementation of restorative practices is associated with school climate in K-12 public schools.


Matthew Kraft, Brown University
Matthew Kraft is a third-year William T. Grant Scholar who has mentored junior researchers at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As a faculty member at Brown University he has directed eight undergraduate training awardees, employed over thirty undergraduate research assistants, and served as a senior advisor to graduate students. He identifies four learning goals related to mentoring: 1) develop his ability to mentor junior scholars to lead a series of research projects; 2) help junior scholars make strategic choices between multiple research opportunities; 3) gain a stronger sense of the career development issues facing junior colleagues of color; and 4) enhance his understanding about how issues of race and class inform teacher effectiveness and school organizational practices. The award will support his mentee, Benjamin West, a second year doctoral student in the Education Policy and Program Evaluation program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. West’s research seeks to improve measures of non-cognitive skill development and to build understanding of racial, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in non-cognitive skill development. He aims to improve the measurement of inequality and enhance efforts to reverse negative trends at an early age.

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