Mentor of the Month: February 2019
Roland Owens, PhD
How did you get involved with NRMN?
I followed its creation, since the concept was first recommended to the NIH Director. It was such a cool concept that I had to be a part of it.
Which of NRMN’s program(s) have you participated in?
I have participated in training webinars. I have found them to be very informative. I have been a mentor to two mentees and I have just started with a third.
Describe your role in MyMentor and tell us a little about your experience in that role.
I see my role as letting my mentees know what is out there. I listen to their needs and desires and make them aware of resources to assist them with their goals. For example, I assisted one with a job search and identified a summer internship program for another.
Have you participated in other similar programs in the past? If so, how was your experience with NRMN different or unique?
I was one of the original group of mentors with the UMBC Meyerhoff Scholarship Program. What makes NRMN different is the use of technology to make connections with people in other parts of the country. The online training for mentors and mentees is also distinctive.
If someone called you and asked, “Why should I become involved with NRMN?” how would you respond?
To paraphrase Gandhi, “to be the change that you want to see in the world.” There is so much talent going to waste for lack of timely advice. We have the power to change this.
How has your experience with NRMN changed the way you approach your career in the sciences?
There is a lot of very useful information in the public domain, but it is often not easy to find. I have learned not to assume that everybody knows something, just because it is at a publicly-accessible website.
Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
One of my most successful projects has been the annual Earl Stadtman Investigator Search at NIH. We have now recruited over 70 tenure-track investigators to the NIH Intramural Research Program through this mechanism. It has become a model of inclusive excellence.
Each morning, what do you look most forward to in the day?
Interacting with other scientists and administrators who are dedicated to the NIH mission.
Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself with a potential future mentee?
I have a tendency to overwhelm people with too much information. I am learning to fine tune things so that I give them what they need, when they need it.
What is your current position and what is your favorite aspect of it?
I am the Director of Research Workforce Development, Office of Intramural Research, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. My favorite aspect of my current position is mentoring scientists in how to develop their careers.
Anything else that you would like to share?
I hope that more established scientists will want to become mentors with NRMN.