Biochemistry and Molecular Biology doctoral student mentors undergraduates
While many graduate students are spending the summer traveling the world, Charlotte Cialek, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is using her summer to help undergraduates ignite an interest in science by serving as a graduate mentor for the Research Experience for Undergraduate program (REU).
With financial support from the National Science Foundation, the program allows students to conduct research projects in various scientific disciplines while receiving a stipend and spending 10 weeks of their summer at Colorado State University. The participants are from institutions across the nation. Each student works closely with an assigned faculty mentor, post-doctoral associates, and graduate students.
As a graduate student mentor, Cialek helps guide and mentor the students in honing their career skills like research communication, presentation, writing, revising, and editing their scientific work, as opposed to other research mentors in the program who are more lab-focused.
“Part of what motivated me to get involved as a mentor with this program was reflecting on the impact it made on me when I participated in it after my undergrad program, and how it helped me overcome the insecurity I felt when I first stepped in a lab and had major impostor syndrome,” Cialek said. “The CSU researchers were just so full of passion and had that spark that just pulled you in. Being able to give back and contribute to that growth in confidence and to motivate these bright students to pursue their passion has been amazing.”
Adam Cragg, an REU participant from Front Range Community College, said the experience has been eye-opening.
“This has been my first time really stepping in a lab like this,” he said, “and having access to knowledgeable people like Charlotte has really made this worth-while for me. Their passion for research really shows.”
Cialek’s work as a mentor this summer has furthered her commitment to the success of all researchers, noting that her ability to inspire and help motivate a new generation of researchers has been an amazing privilege.
“Any group works better with increased diversity, and in the science fields, having a diverse group with various opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives is vital to developing the advancements and technologies the world needs,” she said.
“Any group works better with increased diversity, and in the science fields, having a diverse group with various opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives is vital to developing the advancements and technologies the world needs.”
— Charlotte Cialek
In addition to her work with undergraduates this summer, Cialek strives to foster a sense of community and inclusion among the graduate student population through her work as the vice president of finance for the Graduate Student Council. In this role, she obtains, collects, and budgets funds in an effort to improve quality of life and the experience for graduate students at CSU through educational events, seminars, and helps to further grow the Travel Award program.
“It is about not only promoting the health and wellbeing of graduate students to CSU administration, but also by addressing policy and other issues affecting our diverse student population and fostering a sense of community among that population,” Cialek said.