The scheme will connect members from different career stages and provide opportunities for development for both mentees and mentors. 


Register your interest

The mentoring scheme, a year-long scheme, happened throughout 2023.

For 2024, we are reviewing whether to roll it out again depending on the feedback from the first participants' cohort and the future interest from our members. If you are interested in taking part in a future mentoring scheme, sign up here:



2023 Mentoring Scheme Information

A poster designed to be shared with colleagues to spread the word about the mentoring scheme with key information about the initiative.

Download the mentoring scheme poster to spread the word



What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a series of conversations between a mentor and mentee aimed at supporting the development of the mentee. Often a mentor will be further ahead in their career, and will be able to offer guidance and support from a position of experience.

A mentor supports the learning and development of another, as an advisor, motivator and/or supporter.

A mentee is the person who brings needs or challenges to the relationship, and receives mentoring.


What are the advantages of getting involved in the scheme?

Typical topics in mentoring might include career progression and sharing career stories, building motivation, how to best develop new or existing skills, and building professional networks.

Bringing mentors and mentees together from across our network of SEB members will also provide opportunities to exchange of knowledge of current experimental biology and more generally in science and academia.

It can also be a relevant addition to your CV.

For mentees

A mentoring relationship can help to build networks, gain insights about possible career opportunities, improve confidence, and bring new perspectives.

For mentors

A mentoring relationship can provide an opportunity to build skills in listening and supporting others, develop networks, and can be immensely fulfilling.

How much involvement is needed?

It is expected that all mentors and mentees will attend a brief training session (2 hours online), and a half day networking event. It is also expected that you will remain in your mentoring partnership for one year, meeting every 6-8 weeks for 1 hour. We estimate this is the equivalent to a minimum of 12 hours per year.

We would also appreciate your time to complete a brief post-scheme evaluation questionnaire.

What is the time-frame of the scheme?

Mentors and Mentees will be matched and trained in November 2022, and the scheme will run for 1 year.

The timeline for the scheme is:

  July-September 2022      Register for mentoring scheme
  Late October   Receive email to confirm a match
  Early November 2022           Register to attend a briefing session
  December 2022   Mentee to initiate first meeting 
  May 2023   Networking event
  November 2023   Scheme evaluation




How does the scheme work?

The scheme has three main aims, to:

  • To bring the SEB members together into mentoring pairs
  • To help our members develop connections through training and networking
  • To celebrate 100 years of the SEB

The scheme runs from November 2022 to November 2023.

1. After you sign up, the matching process will begin, where we seek to match mentors and mentees.  After this you will be notified by about your match.

2. There will be a 2 hour briefing session in November explaining the details of the scheme.  You can choose one of the following dates:

  • 4 November 2022 11.30am-1.30pm.
  • 7 November 2022 3.00pm-5.00pm.

3. After this, it is up to the mentee to initiate contact with their mentor and have meetings every 6 to 8 weeks until Nov 2023. Please ensure that at your first one-to-one meeting you complete the Mentor Agreement Form together.  The agreement will be provided at the briefing sessions. This form is confidential, to be shared between mentor and mentee only.

4. There will also be a half day networking event in May 2023 to bring together scheme participants. It will be practical interactive session, where we will be undertaking group and discussion activities to build networks, continue to build our mentoring skills, and reflect on how mentoring is going.

5. We will be checking in during the scheme to ensure all is going well.

6. We encourage that at your last one-to-one meeting you complete the Mentoring Reflection Form that will be provided at the briefing sessions. This form is similar to the Mentor Agreement Form and, as such, is confidential, to be shared between mentor and mentee only. It will be useful for mentor/mentee to reflect on their own personal growth and development.

7. You will be asked for feedback on the scheme after its conclusion: this will help us to improve and expand the scheme so we urge you to complete this.

8. After the scheme has finished in November 2023, you are very welcome to continue to meet with your partner, and keep in contact with people from the scheme, however, there is no obligation to do so. Once the scheme has finished, it is assumed that partnerships end unless the partners choose to stay in contact themselves. You are also welcome to reapply for any future SEB mentoring schemes.

How are mentoring partners matched?

Partners are matched from the information supplied on the registration form, taking into account personal details, any preferences expressed, and alignment in fields and topics people are interested to discuss. This information is coded to match mentors and mentees.

This scheme is open to a maximum of 300 applicants. We will strive to match mentors and mentees as closely as we can, but in some cases an exact match may not be possible.

Am I guaranteed to get a mentor?

Whilst we will endeavour to make as many suitable matches as we can, we cannot guarantee that everyone applying to the scheme will be assigned a match. Our matching takes into account a number of factors around preferences and areas of interest for mentoring and these may not necessarily align across all applicants.

I registered for the scheme and now I’m not sure I have time to take part. What do I do?

The scheme is voluntary and in your own time. The scheme is designed so you can build your mentoring around your existing commitments.

If you are unsure whether you have enough time to devote to the scheme, consider what you want to gain from the scheme. There are 3 different aspects in which you can engage:

  • one to one meetings with your partner for around an hour once every 6-8 weeks
  • a half day’s networking in May 2023
  • feedback on the scheme at its conclusion.

You are not obliged to attend the May networking, but you should be able to make time to come to the briefing (2 hours) sessions and meet with your partner for around an hour once every 6-8 weeks (minimum 7 hours). So in total the minimum engagement with the scheme is 9 hours between November 2022 and November 2023.

If you feel that you don’t have time for this, you can always reapply in the following year, if the scheme is re-run. If you would like to withdraw, please email Rebecca Ellerington at [email protected].

I have a problem with my mentor/mentee. Or I do not think my mentor/mentee and I are a good match. What should I do?

Not every match will work. This is nobody's fault, and absolutely fine within the scope of the scheme. If you have a problem with your mentor/mentee or you don't want to continue with your mentor/mentee, please contact Rebecca  Ellerington. We will endeavour to find new matches if a mentoring partnership doesn’t work, but we cannot guarantee this.  If we cannot rematch you are welcome to reapply the following year.

My mentor/mentee is not replying to my emails. What should I do?

If you have sent one email, try again – the first email may have gone unseen.  Within this scheme it is the responsibility of the mentee to contact the mentor. 

If your mentor or mentee is not replying to emails this might indicate that something is not working within the mentoring relationship.  This does happen, no one is to blame: sometimes matchings do not workout.  The mentoring agreement asks you to consider what will happen if one partner does not make email contact with the other.  If you are uncertain and haven’t heard from your partner for a while, do get in touch with Rebecca  Ellerington.

What happens if I miss a meeting with my mentor?

The mentoring aspect of the scheme is between you and your partner.  There is no penalty for missing a meeting.  It is, nevertheless, important to ensure communication is maintained.

In the mentoring agreement, it is set out that the mentee is responsible for keeping up momentum, to keep in touch to organise meetings and to feedback to the mentor about their learning and progress.  As part of the mentoring agreement we suggest you discuss what happens if a meeting needs to be cancelled.

What support do I get?

The scheme features an initial two hour briefing session, which will run through what is involved with the scheme, and setting boundaries around the mentoring relationship.

When you have your initial meeting with your partner, you should also use the mentoring agreement to agree together how the relationship will work.  This covers aspects such as confidentiality, how you will communicate with each other, how you will evaluate how the mentoring is working, agreeing what topics you will discuss, and how you will end the mentoring relationship.

There is also networking during the scheme, where you can capitalise on building connections with others and exchanging experiences. The networking session's aims are to practice networking, to extend participant networks, to evaluate mentoring practice so far and to look at some tools to build the mentoring relationship.

We also encourage you to complete the mentoring reflection form in the last meeting session with your partner. This form is similar to the mentoring agreement form and it might be useful for mentor/mentee to reflect on their own personal growth and development.

The scheme administrators can also help with any problems or questions at [email protected].

What is a briefing session?

The briefing session is an interactive/hands-on session in which you will learn how the SEB Centenary Mentoring Scheme will work and explore the tools and skills that can help to build a mentoring partnership. You will also receive follow up materials to help you guide your own mentoring partnership.

What happens after the scheme?

When the scheme has finished it will be evaluated.  Once all comments and feedback are evaluated, we will address these and might run a further scheme in the future.

How will the scheme be evaluated?

To evaluate the scheme we will ask participants to complete a feedback form.  This will be reviewed by the organizing committee at SEB to consider what aspects to take forward in any future schemes.

How can I be sure that any problems I want to discuss with my mentor won’t get back to my University or Institute?

The mentoring agreement sets out that a key facet of the mentoring relationship is respect for each other’s privacy.  Sensitive or difficult issues that are discussed within the mentoring sessions are confidential within those sessions.  However, it is also important that you agree together where there may be exceptions to the confidentiality rule.

My partner has told me something concerning and I think they need help. What should I do?

Mentoring is not counselling.  Whilst counsellors have specific training, experience and qualifications, this mentoring scheme is a voluntary arrangement that does not require specific long-term training. 

Counselling seeks to work through personal problems, often by going back to earlier experiences.  Mentoring believes that participants are capable of better results than they are achieving and looks forward to consider options and plans for the future.  As you discuss your mentoring agreement you will be asked to consider the boundaries around the coaching relationship.

You are not expected to help people overcome difficulties (counselling-style).  If something has been discussed, or happens, that makes you feel like your partner might need help, it is acceptable for you to say that this is not something that you feel you are able to address with the expertise you have. You can signpost any relevant sources of help. Some of these are listed below:

  • CALM has a list of international mental health charities by country.
  • Befrienders offer a helpline in many countries with a search bar to find your country.
  • Togetherall where people collectively pool advice and guidance anonymously, online.
  • The Wellbeing Thesis, a resource which supports PhD students in various aspects of their study.
  • Mind is a charity that has excellent mental health resources and information.
  • Your GP or doctor is also a good first point of contact if you have concerns about your mental health.
  • If you ever fear for yours or someone else’s immediate safety call the emergency telephone number of your country or go to the Accident & Emergency Department (A&E).
  • If you are based in the UK, BACP website is a good place to start if you are seeking counselling privately and/or you can self-refer to your university’s/institution’s occupational health service who will be able to link you to counsellors and resources to support your wellbeing and mental health. Many universities in the UK use EAP or Employee Assistance Programmes to support their staff.
  • If you are based in the UK, and you find yourself in crisis or are supporting someone else who is, there are helplines operated by Samaritans and you can call 111 for NHS support and to be linked to your local mental health teams.

How long should mentoring last?

Whilst the scheme lasts for 1 year, the mentoring relationship can carry on beyond this for as long as you like.  The mentoring agreement asks you to honestly consider how the relationship will end.

That is why we also encourage you to complete together the mentoring reflection form during your last one-to-one meeting. In doing so, you can revisit some of the decisions made in the beginning of the scheme and update the terms based on your experiences.

If you decide to continue the relationship beyond the scheme you can use the mentoring agreement questions to define the terms of its continuation.  It is important that the mentoring is of value to both parties. 

If you do continune the relationship beyond 1 year, this will be your own choice and outside the scope of the SEB and there will be no further training or networking events. 

What kinds of support is the mentor be expected to provide?

Mentoring is really about sharing experience, listening, asking questions about options, possibly guiding and advising (in the capacity of being a more experienced PhD student).  Support should not for example be mental health support or counselling, supervision, and these boundaries will be set out in the initial training session.  Mentoring is really a series of conversations to allow the mentee to come up with ideas to pursue and enact about their own development and learning. 

The exact specifics about what support occurs during mentoring can be discussed when you complete the mentoring agreement.

Who is running the scheme?

The SEB are running the scheme with support from Research Coach UK

Research Coach UK provides professional coaching and training for researchers and academics (PhD to Professor) and consultancy services for universities and research organisations, and specialises in providing support for developing and running mentoring schemes. 

I want to withdraw from the programme, what do I do?

You can withdraw from the programme at any time with no consequences. If you wish to withdraw, please email: [email protected].

I want to end my match, what do I do?

If either party is unhappy with the match, the partnership can be ended positively with an email.  It is customary in such an email to summarise any learning from the partnership, and to thank your mentor for their time.  You can also copy Rebecca Ellerington ([email protected]) into the email to formally register the end of the match.

Alternatively, you may wish to inform Rebecca  Ellerington who will send emails. At the end of the programme all partnerships will automatically end unless partners agree amongst themselves to continue meeting. 

The partner scheme will end in November 2023, so any partnerships that continue will do so outside of the SEB scheme and there will be no further training or networking events.