Of Niches and Networks: Kimble Mentors Young Researchers at India Meeting

Photo of Judith Kimble

Recognized for her networking and mentoring experience, biochemistry professor Judith Kimble is attending the Young Investigator Meeting in India March 6-10 to lend advice to young scientists in the country.

The meeting features young faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, as well as senior scientists, heads of institutes, and representatives from funding agencies. Kimble is one of three scientists from outside of India invited to attend. She will speak about her research and mentoring advice.

“My talk is titled ‘Of Niches and Networks,’ which are really both double entendres,” she explains. “A niche in my research is the area where stem cells are nurtured and maintained, an environment for nurturing the young. I’ll be talking about the importance of niches for young scientists, including the niches that were part of my career. They should be developing niches for their own careers and also for their junior lab members.”

Logo for the Ninth Young Investigators Meeting in IndiaKimble’s laboratory studies biochemical networks but says professional networks are also vital to her work. For example, a combination of being involved in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Society for Cell Biology, and Rescuing Biomedical Research allowed her to network with Ron Vale of the University of California, San Francisco, who pioneered the first Young Investigator Meeting in 2009 and invited her to the meeting.

When it comes to mentoring, Kimble takes an individualized approach. She tries hard to get her students to find their own direction, while giving them advice to guide them along the way.

“I feel it’s really important to work with the individual,” she says. “No formula fits everyone. Listen to each person and find out what he or she wants and needs. Talk often as their needs change over time. It’s very important to be respectful of their ideas and yet to make suggestions that will help them move forward and produce rigorous results. They of course need to be a member of the lab team, but they also need to transition toward becoming an independent researcher. My goal as a mentor is to guide their thinking, not to make decisions for them.”