Dr. Scott Powers

Professor and UAA Endowed Chair

UF Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology

2008-2009 UF Doctoral Mentoring Award Winner

I am honored to be nominated for the PhD mentoring award. In the following segments, I will briefly discuss my general philosophy of teaching graduate students and mentoring PhD students.

Teaching philosophy: I view teaching as a privileged profession that demands not only an expertise in a body of knowledge and the ability to convey that knowledge but also humility and respect for students. As a teacher, I strive to remain mindful of my position as a role model for students and to conduct myself in a professional manner at all times. I also consider teaching as an opportunity to inspire and empower students to learn. In this regard, I firmly believe that the enthusiasm of the instructor can motivate students to learn. Further, I think that teaching students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers is as important as teaching fundamental facts about a subject. Moreover, I believe that students learn best when they feel comfortable and are engaged in active learning. Therefore, I strive to create a classroom environment where students know that I am excited to teach them and that they feel free to ask questions and participate in class discussions. However, some of the greatest teaching opportunities come outside the classroom through individual discussions in the lab and/or in my office. Finally, as a teacher of life sciences, I believe that teachers need to be at the cutting edge of recent scholarship in order to convey the dynamic nature of science. Indeed, I want to convey to students that the life sciences are not simply a collection of facts but an area of research that is alive with puzzles waiting to be solved.

Mentoring graduate students: One of the most enjoyable parts of my life as a faculty member is the mentorship of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. It is a great thrill to see each of my graduate students and post-doctoral trainees complete their studies and obtain their first tenure-track university faculty position. Moreover, I enjoy observing my former trainees achieve academic success as they progress in their careers, and I take particular joy in the fact that many former students have already achieved a high national/international standing in research productivity.

My overall objective for mentoring PhD students is to prepare students so that they are competitive for the best academic positions available. Moreover, I want to insure that students develop the professional skills required to be successful after securing an academic position. In regard to the specifics of mentoring PhD students, the following “bullet” list contains some of the cornerstones of training topics that I cover with PhD students during their graduate preparation:

I regularly engage students in discussions about employment opportunities and job interview skills.

It is my practice to provide routine discussions about university life and career paths in academia and industry.

I expect students to make regular oral presentations in both lab meetings and undergraduate classes.

I require students to receive extensive instruction in scientific writing and specific training in the preparation of both manuscripts and grants.

I insure that PhD students acquire research and data management skills and knowledge regarding the ethical conduct of science.

Beginning in Year 2 of training, I ask that students make presentations of research findings at professional meetings.

Finally, I provide my PhD students with the opportunity to achieve both teaching and mentoring experiences with undergraduate students (i.e., undergraduate students performing internships in our lab).