Application Coaching & Personal Mentoring Schemes

As part of the RMS Professional Development and Training Focussed Interest Group (PTD-FIG), the mentoring working group have spent the last two years discussing and formulating a mentoring scheme aimed at but not exclusive to RMS members in order to support career development and the unique microscopy, imaging and flow cytometry roles we hold.

The impetus to design an RMS scheme came from the experience of three members of the working group who themselves had searched out these mentorship relationships to forward career and technique goals. Scott Dillon was in conversation with Paul Verkade over his experience in core facility management, whereas Joëlle Goulding had searched out a contact in order to help her with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). Whilst a variety of mentorship schemes exist within home institutions and workplaces, the pool of mentors that specialise in microscopy, imaging and flow cytometry-based skills can be quite limited. In addition, the unique position of facility scientists and managers means that mentors able to provide guidance on career development and day-to-day running of a facility are often lacking entirely. As such the RMS is uniquely placed to facilitate a scheme for microscopists, by microscopists. 

Two different tracks of the RMS Mentoring Scheme will initially be offered - one to tackle soft skill development (personal mentoring) and the other for hard/technical skills (application coaching). Both are aimed at peer-to-peer support, importantly not replacing project supervisory roles nor the invaluable relationships we can foster with commercial partners. It is hoped that both mentees and mentors can benefit from the relationship, finding it rewarding and useful for career development.

Application Coaching track

Application coaching is aimed at providing technical advice and instruction on specific instrumentation and software. Setting up new instrumentation or new applications for instrumentation already in use can often be challenging and time-consuming. Often, we receive comprehensive training on a microscope from the supplier, however, the day-to-day use and specifics can differ dramatically depending on the research question being applied. By pairing up expert microscopists who are seeking and who are able to provide insight into these applications it is hoped that time can be used more effectively, data can be more reliably collected and new networks built. 

Mentoring pairs will be matched on specific instrument or application expertise. The relationship can be quite short - a couple of communications in order to troubleshoot an application for instance - but equally, a longer-term collaboration may be established outside of the scheme. The coaching is not aimed at students learning an application for their direction of study, but rather, at scientists who already employ microscopy, imaging and flow cytometry in their work, and may need help with a particular application, instrumentation or software.

Personal Mentoring track

Personal mentoring targets soft skills and career development through regular discussion with a senior member of the microscopy, imaging and flow cytometry community. Often core facility scientists and academic microscopists work in small teams and may only have access to a very limited number of colleagues to learn from. Furthermore, opportunities for career development locally can sometimes be narrow and vary between institutions. While direct supervisory relationships are important, many individuals may benefit from guidance from colleagues with alternative skills and experience which apply to them specifically, or simply from those with an outside perspective. These mentoring relationships are therefore geared towards building the mentee’s professional networks and to providing guidance towards career development.

Mentoring pairs are matched depending on relevant skills and experience and based on areas the mentees have identified as important to their professional advancement. They are encouraged to meet once a month for a period of six months initially, and to set out tangible goals they would like to work towards. These relationships can be short to achieve a specific goal, or act as a foundation for a longer relationship outside the scheme.

Application Process

The next round of pairing will now happen in August 2024. Potential mentors and mentees should complete the form below before 31 July 2024. We will review applications and contact you in August 2024 with your proposed pairing match. Pairs will be supported by the RMS and the mentoring working group for a fixed period. We collect aims and outcomes using a short survey at three and six months in order to judge the success of the scheme and gather feedback for future implementation.

(Please note that selecting one option (mentor or mentee) will not exclude you from the other.)

Mentoring Working Group

Joëlle Goulding

Joëlle Goulding

University of Nottingham

Scott Dillon

Scott Dillon

University of Cambridge

Georgina Fletcher

Georgina Fletcher


Paul Verkade

Paul Verkade

University of Bristol

Alex Sossick

Alex Sossick

Chair of Professional Development and Training FIG , Natural History Museum, London

Application Coaching & Personal Mentoring Schemes - Application Forms

MENTOR – you will be supporting, advising and working together with mentee to progress desired soft or hard skill set.

MENTEE – you will work together with your mentor and also independently to progress your skill set.

PERSONAL MENTORING – Aimed at developing soft skills in order to progress your career.

APPLICATION COACHING – Aimed at developing hard skills targeting specific instrumentation, software and/or research areas.

Please note that selecting one option (mentor or mentee) does not exclude you from the other. Applications are open until the end of August 2023. 

1. Mentor

Thank you for your interest in becoming a mentor in this scheme. Please use the box below to briefly describe:

  1. your background (eg. light microscopy, academia, physical sciences OR electron microscopy, industry, life science)
  2. your current role, responsibilities and research/microscopy field
  3. your area of expertise providing precise information on areas you would be happy to mentor in (i.e. soft skills, instrumentation specialism and expertise)

2. Mentee

Two different tracks of the RMS Mentoring Scheme will initially be offered - one to tackle soft skill development (personal mentoring) and the other for hard/technical skills (application coaching).

Please fill in the relevant parts below depending on which track you are interested in - personal mentoring and/or application coaching

Personal Mentoring

Application Coaching