Nurturing the next generation of scientific talents

The A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) presented the inaugural STAR Mentor Award in 2023 to 7 individuals in recognition of their efforts and commitment to grow and support young scientists to achieve their fullest potential. IMCB’s very own Dr Adrian Teo was one of the winners for the STAR Mentor Award 2023. In addition, Dr Sudipto Roy was also nominated for the STAR Mentor Award.

Mentorship has been a key value for us here at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), for its role in nurturing the next generation of scientific talent and leaders. Mentorship not only provides an avenue for more experienced scientists to transfer their expertise and skills to our young scientists, but importantly, it also helps our early career researchers to build their professional networks and provides them with ample support as they navigate the next phase of their career. 

Dr Sudipto Roy has mentored more than 90 postdocs, PhD students, research officers and undergraduate students throughout his research career. He shared that he enjoys interacting with mentees to build their passion and curiosity for research, setting them up to make potential breakthroughs. Sudipto’s advice to aspiring early career researchers is to be brave, dedicated, and tenacious in their pursuit for scientific excellence!

One of Dr Roy’s mentee, Dr Priyanka Anujan, shared how a mentor’s impact can go beyond the lab. Currently doing her postdoc at Imperial College London, Priyanka fondly remembers how during her wedding, Sudipto took the opportunity to share her achievements with guests, much to the delight of her family. A mentor can be more than just a guide for your career and can also be your champion in life.

Similarly, Dr Adrian Teo believes in creating a conducive and enriching lab environment for his mentees to learn and develop their technical skills and thinking. To Adrian, effective mentorship is a key component of a well-run lab. Adrian finds joy in helping his mentees succeed and pays careful attention to their professional development and career growth.

Dr Larry Loo, who was one of Adrian’s first mentees and is now a scientist at the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI)expressed appreciation for Adrian’s adaptive mentorship style, which provided him the freedom to pursue external activities for professional development.

At times the mentee and mentor can swap roles and learn from each other. Adrian shared how Larry, as a PhD student, challenged Adrian to rethink resource allocation and research strategy to achieve greater impact on the lab’s research. By flipping the script on traditional mentor-mentee relationships, reverse mentorship can also help to foster diversity and innovation, bridging gaps in the workplace.

Indeed, mentoring is a two-way street, and both parties can learn and benefit from such partnerships. We are glad to have awesome STAR mentors within our IMCB community who go above and beyond to shape the lives of our early career scientists!

In addition, led by Dr Ng Shi Yan, IMCB has established numerous mentorship and talent development initiatives. IMCB is working closely with A*GA on a mentorship program to link up early career researchers with more than 90 senior research professionals to provide a private space for discussion around career development and institutional knowledge. Be sure to stay tuned to this space for more announcements on IMCB talent development initiatives!