Junior Faculty Research Mentoring Program

The Wilson College of Textiles is committed to providing outstanding mentoring and support for junior faculty.  This Junior Faculty Research Mentoring Program is designed to provide junior faculty with high-quality, research-focused guidance and support in building long and productive careers at NC State University.  We recognize that no single mentor can meet all of the mentoring needs of a single mentee, and hence this structured mentoring program is developed to help junior faculty to create a network of mentors.  In this mentoring program, each junior faculty member is paired with a senior colleague who has achieved tenure at NC State University, but resides in a different department or college than his/her mentoring partner.  Each pair works together to help the junior faculty member set research priorities, develop a network of advisors, increase visibility in the university and professional communities, establish research partnerships, identify appropriate funding opportunities, develop successful proposals, publish research results, etc.

This Junior Faculty Research Mentoring Program is designed to supplement rather to supplant ongoing mentoring efforts within the junior faculty’s departments.  The main goal is mentor and support junior faculty to create and manage successful externally-sponsored research programs.  In addition to the goal of providing benefits for the individual junior faculty mentees, the program also helps foster a community of interdisciplinary scholarship within the Wilson College of Textiles and across the university campus by matching faculty mentees and mentors in different colleges and departments.


All COT tenure-track faculty members are eligible and are strongly encouraged to participate in this program at the Mentee level.  The Mentor must be a tenured Associate or Full Professor from a different department or College.  Once the Mentor-Mentee pair is formed, the Associate Dean for Research will meet with the Mentor and Mentee to initiate the mentoring process.


The program will create both mentoring “teams” and “circles”:

  • A “team” consists of at least 2 individuals: a Mentor and a Mentee. It may be possible to form larger teams with additional Mentors and Mentees.  The “teams” are expected to participate in an interdisciplinary research development activity that will position the team for new external funding while also enhancing the research skills of junior faculty.
  • All Mentors will constitute a single “circle”, and all Mentees will constitute another “circle”. The “circles” are expected to provide an opportunity for additional cross-disciplinary interaction and for participation in appropriate training activities.

Team Research Development Activities: The Mentees are expected to meet with their mentors at least twice per semester to receive advice and carry out various research development activities, including, but are not limited to:

  • Hosting a speaker,
  • Holding a workshop,
  • Attending proposal development training,
  • Writing a review paper,
  • Traveling to meet with funding agencies or research partners.

Group Research Development Activities: Group activities will be designed and organized to support the teams, circles, or both.  Examples of group activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Research partnership development, e.g., tours and meetings with RTI, UNC, Duke, ORNL, ARO, etc.,
  • Networking with other Colleges at NC State,
  • Meetings with program officers in Washington, D.C.,
  • Training sessions, e.g., grant-writing, team-building and mentoring, administration,
  • Mock proposal reviews,
  • Dossier reviews,
  • Research networking events.


The COT Research Office will fund all group research development activities.  The Research Office will also work with Department Heads to provide funding for team research development activities.  However, faculty members are expected to use their start-up funds, returned F&A, release time, and/or gift funds to partially support the costs of the proposed team research development activities.

Tips for Mentors

  • Recognize and evaluate what you can offer a mentee, keeping in mind that you should not expect yourself to fulfill every mentoring function.
  • Exchange CV’s with your mentee to stimulate discussion about career paths and possibilities.
  • Ask about and encourage accomplishments. Provide constructive criticism and impromptu feedback.
  • Use your knowledge and experience to help your mentee identify and build on his/her own strengths.
  • Try to be in contact monthly (if possible) about the mentee’s career and activities. Commit to meeting at least twice per semester to show you care about your mentee’s career.
  • Discuss annual performance reviews with your mentee: how to prepare, what to expect, how to deal with different outcomes.
  • Be sure to give criticism, as well as praise, when warranted but present it with specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Assist the mentee in exploring the institutional, college, and departmental culture, e.g., What is valued? What is rewarded?
  • Check-in with COT Associate Dean for Research with any concerns, or problems. Respond to occasional calls from the COT Associate Dean for Research to see how each mentor-mentee team is doing.
  • Share knowledge of important university and professional events that should be attended by the mentee.

Tips for Mentees

  • Show initiative in career planning: write a Professional Research Development Plan (to be amended as needed); exchange your CV with your mentor for discussion.
  • Find out about and take advantage of opportunities for learning about how the university and your field operate. Write down questions as they occur to you, and then begin searching out the answers.
  • Realize that your success is important not just to you, but also to the department, the college, and the university. Consider that “going it alone” doesn’t work that well for anyone.
  • Make your scheduled meetings with your mentor a priority, and take advantage of e-mails and telephone calls to keep in touch informally.
  • Be willing to ask for help.
  • Make and maintain contacts with other junior faculty, within the Wilson College as well as in other colleges.
  • Become familiar with the resources available to support and strengthen your research.
  • Assemble a library of information about the university, college, and department, e.g., the latest strategic plans.
  • Set a meeting with your Department Head to discuss departmental expectations for tenure and promotion.
  • Let the Associate Dean for Research know if you have questions or concerns.

Questions regarding this program may be directed to:

Xiangwu Zhang
Associate Dean for Research
(919) 515-6547