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MyMentor of the Quarter: Anjolii Diaz, PhD

By November 22, 2019No Comments


How did you get involved with NRMN?

A colleague at the University of Connecticut learned about a new NRMN project in the works (Amplifying Voices) and recommended me as someone who could contribute to and benefit from its involvement.

Which of NRMN’s program(s) have you participated in?

Amplifying Voices and MyMentor

Describe your role in Amplifying Voices and MyMentor and tell us a little about your experience in that role.

Amplifying Voices: An Innovative Model for Mentoring Biomedical/Biobehavioral Faculty from Underrepresented Groups was a new project funded by NRMN in 2016. The goal was to build a support network for faculty in biomedical and biobehavioral disciplines. It entailed a webinar that helped participants identify effective mentoring and networking strategies for diverse populations, including those from backgrounds historical underrepresented in STEM and behavioral sciences. More importantly, we met biweekly through web-based conferencing in small groups to solve and discuss problems underrepresented groups encounter in academia. The meetings followed the problem-solving format outlined in “Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists” by Ellen Daniell. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in creating a supportive and empowering group in their institution.

My group consisted of five amazing women from all over the U.S. in various stages of their academic careers. Our meetings became an outlet to discuss our concerns and personal difficulties as well as a safe place to help one another problem-solve, to receive feedback, and to express ourselves openly. Our meetings were so beneficial that we continued to meet even after the program ran out of funding.

MyMentor: I requested to match with a potential mentee through MyMentor, On August 2018, I was successfully matched with a junior faculty mentee. We are in the process of following the suggestions and prompts outlined through the on-line mentoring platform and recently discussed our motivations and how we manage stress.


Have you participated in other similar programs in the past?  If so, how was your experience with NRMN different or unique?

No, these are both unique experiences.

If someone called you and asked, “Why should I become involved with NRMN?” how would you respond?

As a strong advocate for faculty-student mentorship, I take great pleasure in mentoring my undergraduate advisees, my teaching assistants, and research assistants. I recognize that my influence over students has a far-reaching impact beyond the classroom or even the lab. I have the potential to impact students’ future endeavors, attitudes towards learning, and perceptions of themselves, others, and the world around them. By mentoring students, I believe I can advance the discipline thereby ensuring the quality and commitment of the next generation of scholars. Through my participation with NRMN however, I can take this commitment nationally by reaching others, even junior faculty, that I would not have had the opportunity to otherwise. If you also feel as strongly about mentoring as I do, I recommend NRMN.

How has your experience with NRMN changed the way you approach your career in the sciences?

While participating in Amplifying Voices, I was in the early stage of my career compared to everyone else in the group. The tenure process, though incredibly rewarding, is challenging and the group’s advice was very helpful in navigating the first years and motivating me to stay productive. It was also beneficial to hear the experiences of others and how they were able to overcome challenges and barriers they faced. The advice and mentoring we provided to each other helped me develop both professionally and personally.

The MyMentor platform provided me with many great resources for mentoring students. I believe mentorship requires a high degree of flexibility and self-analysis. The webinars and prompts provided by NRMN enhanced my mentoring skills and helped me reflect on current mentoring practices. Although others may disagree with me, mentoring is as essential to my success as teaching, research, and publications.


Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

My research interests focus on the relation between temperament and cognitive processes as well as diverse predictors of children’s social and academic development. As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, my early work addressed two themes: a) the relation between behavioral and physiological markers (EEG & ECG) of temperament and children’s executive functioning and b) the role of parenting in these developing processes. After earning a postdoctoral diversity supplement from NICHD to conduct a complimentary study to a parent R01 at Arizona State University, I extended my research to address how sleep and emotions relate to early socio-emotional development and later academic achievement. This NIH supplement allowed me to develop and expand my current research interests in biological processes (adding a new focus on sleep), as well as gain additional expertise in emotions as predictors of children’s social and academic competence. Without this experience, I would not have been able to develop my current research program at Ball State.


What makes you an ideal mentor?

I believe in the premise that a mentor is someone who helps another person develop into a successful professional because they have their best interest at heart. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my mentors (i.e. Drs. Reneé Bishop, Martha Ann Bell, Nancy Eisenberg, Carlos Valiente). Knowing that I had individuals committed to my advancement, mentors that I could always turn to for honest and constructive feedback and advice, and more importantly acted as my advocate, helped me to persevere through the difficult roadblocks I encountered and gave me the confidence I needed to push forward. Thus, this is the individual I strive to be for others.


Each morning, what do you look most forward to in the day?

Going to bed.

On a more serious note, the enthusiasm I see in my students and challenging them to reach their full potential.


Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself with a potential future mentee?

I am a big horror movie fan and enjoy going to the movies. I also have two fur babies; a Samoyed and a grey Tabby, which are the loves of my life (besides my husband). I also have a good sense a humor.


What is your current position and what is your favorite aspect of it?

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Ball State University. The best part of my job is the opportunity to perpetuate intellectual development and facilitating personal and professional growth in students through my research, teaching, and service.


Anything else that you would like to share?

Communication is key! Make sure you speak openly to your mentor about conflicts and challenges you are experiencing. Your mentor doesn’t know what’s going on or affecting your performance unless you tell them. Your mentor may not be able to solve the problem but provide you with helpful advice and potential resources. Also, note that if you are asked to complete an assignment/task by your mentor, it’s not busy work. It is meant for you to explore and build your skills.

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