Mentorship Lunch Leads to Research & Collaboration

What started as an informal mentorship lunch at the annual meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance lead to an international exchange, new research, and future collaboration opportunities.

Many agree that students, co-workers, principal investigators, and universities benefit from exchange programs. Exchanges allow for knowledge to be shared, networks to expand, and new research to be published. Although countless programs are established for high schools and all the way up to studies on a master level, Felicia Seemann at Lund University, Sweden, felt that there were less clear paths to find a relevant research exchange for a PhD student within cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), such as herself.

During her first year as a PhD student, Felicia traveled to Los Angeles where she attended the annual scientific meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, SCMR, to present a poster. Prior to the meeting she received an email from SCMR informing about their mentorship program. The program matches a trainee with a more senior member of the society, and it is then up to the mentor and mentee to schedule a meeting and decide on what to discuss. Although Felicia assumed she might miss a talk or two at the meeting, she decided to enroll.

She went on an informal lunch with her match Dr. Lauren Baldassare from Yale University, during which mostly research interests and personal career paths were discussed. The lunch ended up leading to a 6-month research exchange two and a half years later. This was made possible since Lauren connected the dots that her new mentee and her colleague Dr. Dana Peters had overlapping research interests, and presented them to each other.

By keeping in touch after the Los Angles meeting, discussions on the possibility for Felicia to visit the Yale lab expanded into a full research proposal on how to assess diastolic function and left atrial remodeling by CMR. The exchange was made possible by awarded travel grants, and in November of 2017 Felicia relocated to Yale University in the U.S.

Dana and Lauren supervised Felicia during the exchange, which yielded four abstracts, an invited talk, and the submission of a co-authored manuscript that is planned to be a part of Felicia’s PhD thesis. Felicia’s main supervisor back in Sweden, Dr. Einar Heiberg, co-supervised during the entire time through weekly Skype sessions and continuous email correspondence. The close contact between Lund and Yale was key in the success of the exchange, allowing for the two labs different areas of expertise to be combined into an exciting research project. Since the project came to an end and Felicia got back to Sweden, discussions on future collaborations have been held.

Back in Sweden, Felicia is satisfied that she enrolled in the mentorship program and went through with the exchange. One thing she is especially content with is that she had two female mentors and role models, which is not that common in the field of CMR. She also states that “Not only have I learned a lot and gotten new exciting research ideas, I believe that the exchange has strengthened my PhD education and has made me feel more confident as a researcher”.      

Mentorship is one of the most important things for trainees to develop and excel within their field. Although all informal lunches do not result in a concrete research project, it might lead to a new insight, a new idea, or some encouraging inspiration – which is worth quite a lot in itself.

Felicia Seemann, PhD Student, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Einar HeibergAssociate Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Dana C. PetersAssociate Professor in Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Lauren A. BaldassareAssistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

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