DoctorYou S02E03: Relation student-supervisor with Emily and Henner

05.03.2019: Dr. Emily Rose Ciscato, freshly graduated PhD student, and Dr. Henner Busemann, supervisor, guest on DoctorYou! Henner and Emily both work at the Department of Earth Sciences and they are not in a directly hierarchical relation.

This radio talk is a unique occasion to get and compare answers from the two sides of the so called supervision curtain: what does a student need? What can be factors of pressure on a student? And what does a supervisor need and what can put pressure on the supervisor?

We start by discussing the German words Doktorvater resp. Doktormutter and the role of a supervisor as academic „parent“ of a student and how the experience of supervision one makes as student could influence one’s eventual future role as supervisor.

A topic we touch is communication between supervisor and student.

I asked Emily and Henner to prepare some tips for students and for supervisors. These are of course personal tips, which, depending on the context, might function for some people but not for other. Anyway it can be useful to listen to them and to take them as a starting point for some reflection.

Tips to the student

  1. Emily: ✉️keep your supervisor updated
  2. Emily:♻️ 📜make use of the experience of more senior colleagues. By talking with more senior colleagues and finding out what your supervisor likes/dislikes and which ways of communicating and behaving your supervisor has, you can better direct your behavior and prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.
  3. Henner:🕝 realize the boundary conditions of your supervisor
  4. Henner: 👤👤👤 In difficult/controversial/tense situations or when there is the risk for misunderstanding, have a third person in the room when student and supervisor meet. This can help to keep the focus on the issue to solve and avoid that the situation escalates. (Tips for a student but also for a supervisor).

Tips to the supervisor

  1. Emily: 👤be conscious that you are a role model.
  2. Emily:🔌 adapt to different types of student.
  3. Henner:💎 be clear and straight with your decisions and with how you communicate them to the student.
  4. Henner: 🏠don’t take everything personally, don’t take everything at home… if something did not work, try again!

It seems that a very important ingredient in a good and constructive relation between student and supervisor boils down to finding good channels for communication and keeping these channels open!

Thank you to Emily and Henner for guesting on DoctorYou! To know more details listen to the talk with Emily and Henner, soon available on Mixcloud

Emily recommends a book on the topic: The Art of Being a Scientist: A Guide for Graduate Students and their Mentors, by Roel Snieder and Ken Larner

The channels to communicate with the radio program DoctorYou are always open:  InstagramTwitter and of course on Tuesday at 17:15!

Next week a PhD student coming from an international background is going to share her experiences regarding her first times as PhD student in Zurich. Tune in!


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