In Emory College of Arts and Sciences, we believe that mentorship is an indispensable part of faculty success at all stages of the career trajectory. Building relationships with a variety of colleagues and getting regular guidance and feedback can be helpful for navigating the academic landscape and can also make for a more fulfilling academic life. This initiative also presents an opportunity for us to actively build cultures of belonging for our faculty.
For tenure-track faculty, small mentorship clusters of pre-tenure faculty from across disciplines are matched with an experienced full professor from outside of their home department. This initiative is meant to support faculty and their professional growth as a scholar and teacher at Emory.
For teaching-track faculty, mentorship clusters of assistant teaching professors and associate teaching professors are matched with 2-3 teaching professors from a range of divisions and disciplines. This initiative is meant to support faculty and their professional growth primarily as a teacher at Emory, and for those who are also engaged in research, support them in developing their scholarly profile.
Additional programming for associate professors is to come.
Name: Astrid M. Eckert
Title: Professor of History
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: There was much to learn when I arrived at Emory, especially since I had been trained in Europe and needed to adjust to the “American way of academia” rather quickly. I received valuable guidance from a range of people who were consistent in pointing me to opportunities while counseling to prioritize. I would be glad if I could provide similar support to those who are new to Emory and need to navigate the many demands on their time.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: I was fortunate to meet a senior faculty member at Emory who taught at several other schools before coming to Atlanta and who mentored me in matters ranging from an external offer to book contracts and promotion-related issues. I benefited enormously from their deep experience and willingness to serve as a sounding board.
Fun fact: I'm that person who started using a smart phone only in 2021...
Name: Cathryn Johnson
Title: Professor of Sociology
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I have had amazing mentors throughout my career who I have appreciated immensely, and thus I want to pay it forward. I enjoy acting as a sounding board and a resource guide for colleagues and students.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: One of my graduate students was on the job market and got an invitation to do a job interview for a tenure track position at a University in a state with cold winters. She didn't particularly want to say yes because she preferred warm weather having grown up in the South. I said, "You know, it is a great opportunity to go to this University, and worth at least going on the interview." And thus I told her "you must go," which is what my mentor told me when I got an interview at Emory. My student went on the interview and is now full professor there, and also enjoys the snow!
Fun fact: About 15 years ago, I wrote bits and pieces of a sitcom, and I anticipated that Ellen DeGeneres would play me. Of course, there are many other options. Still working on it.
Name: Teddy Kim
Title: Associate Professor of Economics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I cannot go back in time to fix my mistakes as a junior scholar. But, I can at least help others not make the same mistakes. I also want to make more friends on Emory campus.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: My (former) mentor guided/encouraged me to see, and prepare for, a career after tenure. It turned out to be not only useful now, but also the best strategy to get tenure.
Fun fact: Emory is my fourth academic employer, after HKUST, Iowa, and Miami.
Name: Katia Koelle
Title: Professor of Biology
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I was mentored by a senior faculty member when I was an assistant professor, and the discussions we had, sometimes over a cup of coffee, sometimes over a beer, and sometimes over a walk were so helpful in getting me settled in to a new role during my academic career.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: One mentorship experience I clearly remember was during my first year as an assistant professor when I went down to UT Austin to give an invited seminar talk. The faculty member who invited me I knew from when she was a grad student and I was an undergrad, and she was doing it all: chair of a department, successful research program, and 3 kids. I asked her how she managed to do it all, and she said "You learn which balls you can drop." That's stayed with me since that day.
Fun fact: When I was a first year faculty member (at Duke), my parents visited me for Winter break, and they tried to pass me off as a student to get in to the Lemur Center for cheaper. The nerve!
Name: Jeffrey Lesser
Title: Director of the Halle Institute for Global Research and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: When I was an assistant professor a mentor changed my professional life.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: As a mentor I have had the chance to observe many wonderful classes and as a mentee I have learned how to navigate the opaque world of the university.
Fun fact: I watch lots of K-dramas.
Name: Sara Markowitz
Title: Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Economics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I'm happy to give advice and support to people just starting in the profession.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: My dissertation advisor helped me navigate the strange world of academia and helped me to become a success. I would like to do the same for others.
Fun fact: One of my hobbies is cake decorating.
Name: Hugo Mialon
Title: Professor of Economics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I enjoy mentoring and learning from my colleagues, especially in the realm of teaching. I have found mentoring to be highly mutually beneficial.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: The very first honors student I supervised at Emory, Romina Savova, went on to found Pension Bee, which now manages over $3 billion in assets and has over 140 employees.
Fun fact: I play soccer on a team called the "Old Folks."
Name: Connie Roth
Title: Professor of Physics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I enjoy connecting with people and discussing different styles and approaches to how we tackle the various topics of our academic life (scholarship, teaching, student and faculty interactions, etc.), while aiming to maintain being a happy and sane human being.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: The most successful mentoring experience I've been a part of recently are these weekly walks started between myself and an assistant professor in my department during the pandemic. These weekly walks now include up to seven faculty from our department and have become an enjoyable hour-long walk around campus while we discuss all sorts of topics related to being successful faculty. Our ranks span assistant, associate to full professor, meaning you can get advice on any topic from a range of perspectives.
Fun fact: I bike to campus most days and my vacations often involve long-distance backpacking.
Name: Eric Weeks
Title: Director of CFDE, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Physics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I enjoy helping people think through their goals and how to achieve them. This particular mentoring initiative is fun because of the diversity of people at Emory, and thus the interesting diversity of goals.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: My PhD advisor was a fantastic mentor and still occasionally gives me advice; I also quote his advice to the students I work with. On the other hand I find most people are willing to provide advice when you ask, and so I've benefited from a lot of informal mentoring throughout my career.
Fun fact: A former undergraduate from my laboratory went into asteroid research, and named an asteroid after me. Asteroid 5057 Weeks is big (11 km across) and slightly eccentric in orbit.
Name: Cynthia Willett
Title: Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: As I found when serving on Tenure and Promotion, it's exciting to read what colleagues are thinking about in other disciplines. It's even more fun to talk face to face. For me it's vital because my field of philosophy thrives in dialogue with other disciplines.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: I've found unexpected ways to support colleagues in special circumstances including negotiating with the challenges of a new and still emerging research area. I have some experience in the demands of care work, aka the "work/work balance", as well as in actual work/life balance.
Fun fact: I go out to music venues or comedy clubs every week.
Name: Michelle M. Wright
Title: Emory College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of English
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I enjoy mentoring! In addition to the sense of accomplishment when you find you can help others, it's also a two-way street, where knowledge is exchanged, not imparted from one side to the other.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: Right out of graduate school in my first tenure-track job, and I didn't know how to do anything. I reached out to a former member of my dissertation committee, who walked me through writing a book proposal. Two hours on the phone, in the evening, and I will never forget that incredible generosity, not to mention how much it helped.
Fun fact: I was born in Rome, Italy, and salami was my first language.
Name: Shomu Banerjee
Title: Teaching Professor, Economics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: When I was a rookie teaching-track faculty, I had access to limited resources. But the wise counsel of Nancy Bliwise had been invaluable. I’m trying to give back.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: A junior (tenure tack) faculty member had asked me to help them with their dismal student evaluations as a personal favor. We strategized, I observed his class several times, and made numerous suggestions as to how class time could be made more participatory. Today, their class is one that is much sought after. It is gratifying.
Fun fact: I’ve been practicing a Japanese martial art, Aikido, for almost 30 years and hold a third-degree black belt.
Name: Lisa Dillman
Title: Teaching Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: Being involved in mentoring is really rewarding: getting to know faculty outside of one's own field, sharing perspectives and stories, giving and receiving tips and input all help create a more tightly knit community. When I came to Emory I benefitted greatly from the time and generosity of colleagues who had been here longer than I had; if I can provide something similar for colleagues who have been here less time than I, that would be an honor.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: When I was new at Emory, Bob McCauley, who used to head the CMBC, reached out to me. We met for coffee several times and he invited me to speak at the CMBC together with Mark Risjord. At the time I was young, and new, and to be taken seriously as a scholar by a scholar established in his career had a really positive impact on me. This was a very particular event, but I have benefitted tremendously from mentorship in much broader senses as well. Senior colleagues inside my department have been invaluable in guiding me over the years. Thank you Vialla and Karen!
Fun fact: I love swimming, despite being very mediocre at it. After an injury in 2015, I had to give up marathoning and learned quickly that good swimmers who are my age did not _start_ swimming at my age. Nevertheless I am determined to perfect my flipturn and master the fly!
Name: Hong Li
Title: Teaching Professor, REALC & Interim Director, Education Abroad
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I enjoy getting to know other teaching track faculty and supporting them in their career development.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: I collaborated with two new teaching track faculty in REALC on a project researching learners' motivations for studying East Asian Languages. It was a mutually beneficial experience and I learned a lot from them.
Fun fact: I like to crochet. Sitting by the fireplace crocheting is relaxing.
Name: Tracy McGill
Title: Teaching Professor, Chemistry
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: I have been extremely grateful for all the support and opportunities Emory has provided me with as a teaching-track faculty member. This is an excellent opportunity for me to share my experiences and support other teaching-track faculty as they pursue their passions in teaching and to encourage their professional development.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: Early in my career at Emory, a colleague who has now retired invested in my success with his time and encouragement. He encouraged me to explore different pedagogical methods and supported my early interests in curriculum reform. I appreciated his interest in my ideas and all the questions he asked me to help me implement my ideas into the classroom. Without his mentoring and encouragement to try new student-focused teaching methods, I would not be the instructor and mentor I strive to be for my students and colleagues.
Fun fact: Outside of Emory, I play clarinet in a local band, and I am a mom to an amazing almost 5-year old!
Name: Susan Tamasi
Title: Teaching Professor and Program Director, Linguistics
Reasons for contributing to this mentoring initiative: Academia can be isolating, especially for those who choose to focus their main energies on teaching and mentoring. I wanted to become a mentor in order to show how strong and supportive the Emory community can be for all of its faculty. I wanted to continue for others the unwavering support that has been shown to me.
Describe a meaningful mentorship experience you've had: It's simple, but I always find it gratifying to answer the questions that teaching track faculty have that their closer departmental colleagues are not able to answer (or that they're unsure they are allowed to ask).
Fun fact: I'm an Emory alumna, 94C.