Catalyst Fellowship Mentor Expectations


Each LSST-DA Catalyst Fellow in astrophysics (fellow) has a local advisor at their home institution. In addition, each fellow will work with LSST-DA to put together a Collaboration and Mentoring Committee (CMC) that includes the local advisor, two funded mentors, a social scientist, and an astrophysicist associated with LINCC. One of the funded mentors will be an active member of a Rubin Science Collaboration (the SC Mentor). The other funded mentor—the Expansion Mentor—will either work at a small institution, in a small astronomy group, or at a historically minority-serving institution, or belong to a demographic group that is under-represented in astronomy or otherwise uniquely capable of providing support for, or expanding the perspective of, the fellow. The intent for Expansion Mentors is that they expand the perspective and enrich the experience of Catalyst Fellows, preparing them for effective leadership within a diverse and evolving astrophysics community. 

Goal of Relationship

The goal of the Catalyst mentor-mentee relationships is mutual benefit to the fellows and the mentors. In addition to the fellow benefiting from quality mentoring, we aim for the mentors to benefit from intellectual exchange and potential collaboration with the fellow as well as members of the LINCC science and software teams. We also hope that the mentors will benefit from the community of other mentors.

Funding for Science Collaboration (SC) and Expansion Mentors

Mentors receive $20K, $20K, and $10K for years one, two, and three of participation in the LSST-DA Catalyst Fellowship, contingent upon satisfactory performance, for an expected total of $50K to each funded mentor. The purpose of the funding is to enable the SC and Expansion Mentors to have time and resources to engage meaningfully with the fellow. Allowable expenses for these funds include but are not limited to summer salary, teaching buy-out, collaboration visit to an LSST-DA member institution, stipends for undergraduate students working with the mentor on projects related to Rubin LSST, and travel (the amount that can be spent on travel is capped). Each funded mentor can serve as a funded mentor for at most one fellow at a time. No more than 10% of Catalyst mentor awards can be allocated for direct administrative costs. LSST-DA does not provide funds for any indirect costs.


Local Advisors

Help the fellow succeed at your institution and in their academic subfield

Local advisors are responsible for onboarding the fellow at their institution. Advisors at LINCC Hub institutions should also help those fellows engage significantly with the LINCC science and software efforts in a way that is beneficial for their careers. Local advisors, you are encouraged to invite but not pressure the fellow to collaborate with you.

Local advisors are expected to schedule and lead semi-annual meetings of the fellow’s Collaboration and Mentoring Committee (CMC), with some members likely attending via video conference). These committees are analogous to the thesis committees of senior graduate students but with a more peer-to-peer mentoring dynamic. The fellow should at least briefly update their committee at each meeting on how their research and community-impact activities are going. They may also seek advice from the committee about any problems, challenges, or opportunities that have arisen. The CMC does not grade or assess the fellow but should provide written feedback to the fellow after each meeting. 

In addition to providing advice and guidance to the fellow at committee meetings, the CMC has extensive freedom regarding how to use their meetings. For example, the fellow or local advisor could ask the CMC members to give updates on their own research, talk about career challenges and how they have navigated them, or provide general career advice and guidance during CMC meetings. Some part of each meeting could be devoted to ensuring good communication between the astrophysicists and the social scientists. The fellow or local advisor could ask that much of some meetings be devoted to specific topics, such as hearing about the Rubin SCs from the SC Mentor or hearing about doing research with undergraduates from the Expansion Mentor (if the Expansion Mentor is from a teaching-focused institution). During the first year of the fellowship, the fellow should work with their committee to create an Independent Development Plan (IDP).

Science Collaboration Mentors

Help the fellow learn about your SC

Introduce the fellow to the basic organizational structure and goals of the SC, the activities within the SC, as well as leadership and other career opportunities that may be available to the Fellow within the SC. Help the fellow navigate the SC ecosystem to ideally find opportunities within the SC that have high career or research benefits to the fellow and avoid copious unrecognized service work. You are encouraged to invite but not pressure the fellow to collaborate with you.

Expansion Mentors

Help the fellow expand their perspective 

To the extent possible and natural/comfortable to you, help the fellow expand their perspective regarding the contexts in which research is done (differing funding and research ecologies) and different perspectives as well as experiences that researchers from a variety of backgrounds might bring to collaborations. Do your best to provide support, encouragement, and strategies for success, whether through the differences in your experiences or similarities. Local advisors of fellows at expansion sites hold the dual role of local advisor and Expansion Mentor for those fellows. You are encouraged to invite but not pressure the fellow to collaborate with you; please keep in mind that the fellow is not your postdoc. 

In Brief

All Advisors And Mentors:

  • Should participate in the fellow’s semi-annual CMC meetings and, through this committee, help advise the fellow in the creation of an Individual Development Plan.
  • Are encouraged to propose collaborations. Provide such opportunities as appropriate, e.g., if scientific areas of interest overlap sufficiently. Please do not, however, pressure the fellow to work with you—keep in mind that the fellow is not your postdoc but rather an early-career colleague.
  • Should participate in annual surveys, reviews, and/or assessments
  • Will be invited to join monthly topical group meetings led by a LINCC researcher
  • Will be invited to attend annual symposia and encouraged to attend the annual Rubin Project and Community Workshop

In addition to the list above, Local Advisors and funded Mentors should:

  • Hold regular one-on-one meetings with the fellow. The frequency of these meetings could range from weekly and quarterly, depending on the needs of the fellow and whether the fellow and the particular advisor or mentor have decided to collaborate. Keep in mind that the fellow has a local advisor and two funded mentors and will be invited to participate in a monthly LINCC-led group meeting (and so, is at risk of meeting overload).
  • Strengthen their own mentoring skills. Work with other mentors and draw from the experience and findings of the participating social scientists to strengthen your mentoring skills and share mentoring strategies with the broader community. Participate in the Catalyst community seeking to further hone mentoring and collaboration skills via potential workshops or online training.
  • Consider inviting the fellow to visit your institution or planning a visit to theirs. Extended visits by the fellow to the home institution of the Expansion Mentor, or vice versa, are particularly encouraged.
  • Try to attend the annual LSST-DA Catalyst Fellowship symposium.
  • Engage with the social science fellow(s) and senior social scientists for interdisciplinarity purposes when appropriate. 
  • Be open to serving on the Collaboration and Mentoring Committee of a social science fellow
  • Participate in all surveys, interviews, and other research being conducted for the betterment of the research learning community.

Please note: This is a living document. Expectations for mentors and advisors will evolve in response to input from participants and stakeholders.

Last Modified: March 28, 2024