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Professor Jason Mercer

Professor Jason Mercer

Professor Jason Mercer
University of Birmingham
In three words or phrases how would you describe your supervision style?

I am passionate about the science we do in the lab and I am always happy to discuss ideas and results, dissect the literature and help plan or talk through experiments. I support, guide and encourage my PhD students and in return expect a good level of self-guidance and goal-oriented experimentation. Science is fun but it is also hard work, I view the lab as a team, and we are all in this together.

In one or two sentences please describe your strategies regarding the following.
Provision of training:

Your daily laboratory training will be largely guided by experienced postdocs. While help and guidance will always be available you, I expect one to take charge of their project, do the reading, understand the question they are asking and why. I am a big believer in watch one, do one you’re on your own. Throughout the PhD, I will always be available to discuss details of protocols, help plan experiments and guide bigger picture questions and ideas.

Progression monitoring and management:

I expect one to take full ownership of their progression. In the end, I want you to the expert on your project. That said, I am always available to troubleshoot, plan and discuss the project. I will help you develop into a scientist capable of identifying and asking the relevant questions and performing the right experiments to answer those questions. My lab is run on an open-door policy, and I am always happy to see and discuss new data! All members of my lab have scheduled one-on-one bi-weekly meetings with me to discuss progress and future aims/directions.

Communication:

We have a group WhatsApp chat to communicate on daily business, scheduling and experimental questions. This has been very effective over the last 4 years. I am always available via phone, messaging or email. I expect communication to be swift within working hours and offer the same on my end.

How often do your PhD students see you in a timetabled group meeting?

At least once per fortnight

In year 1 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once per fortnight

In year 2 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once per fortnight

In year 3 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once per fortnight

What form do your 1:1 meetings with PhD students take?

A mixture of face to face or via video chat

Open door policy?

Yes, I am usually contactable for an instant response (if required) on every working day.

My expectation of PhD student working patterns?

Certain tasks in my lab need to occur at set times, and students need to be able to commit to a rota/timetable shared with other members of the team. This is usually in the core hours of 10am-4pm, Mo-Fri. This assures that training is efficient, people in the lab communicate effectively and productively. Work outside these hours occurs on a flexible basis and is managed independently by each member of the group.

Notice for feedback (e.g. on reports, manuscript drafts, thesis chapters)?

I need at least 1 week’s notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.