The Bolin Mentoring System

The Bolin Mentoring System was introduced in 2014 as tool for supporting researchers across the Bolin Centre. This initiative links interested senior and junior scientists in a mentor-mentee relationship. A junior scientist in this regard is anyone who feels the need for mentoring by someone more senior. As a mentee you state your mentor preferences such as discipline, gender, language requirement, seniority, etc. and we do our best to meet these requests from our pool of mentors. This program is:

Cross-departmental: The mentees are signed up with mentors in other departments to provide more objectivity and avoid conflict of interest.
Voluntary: All mentees and mentors volunteer. This means the program is always only as big as the need it fulfills.
Confidential: We never mention who signs up for the program unless specific permission is given such as for marketing. Mentee-mentor interactions are also strictly confidential.
Mentee-driven: The mentees make the first contact and decide the frequency and format of the meetings. This is because the needs of every mentee are individual and no single format is optimal for all.

You can sign up as a mentee or a mentor here:

Registration for the 2021 year closes December 1th, 2020.

The process: Sign-up for the program occurs annually during the Bolin Days after which we work to pair mentees with a mentor based on their submitted preferences. The mentees then contact their assigned mentor to set up a first meeting. At this meeting they discuss the expectations of the mentee and decide their preferred mentoring relationship format including type and frequency of meetings. Meeting frequency can range from three times a year to monthly. The meetings can be everything from informal chats to goal-orientated discussion. For the latter, the mentee can for example, write a professional and/or personal development program. The pair can then discuss at each meeting how the mentee is progressing towards his/her goals and the best way to overcome challenges. The commitment is initially for a year. The program will be annually reviewed, adjusted, and if successful, renewed. This will allow for new mentor-mentee pairs if needed.

Why have a mentor?
A mentor can fulfill a number of roles as a(n):
• Sounding board: to test ideas and suggestions on
• Facilitator: to be able to point to potential opportunities, arrange introductions
• Advisor: to provide objective advice on a range of issues, including career opportunities
• Coach: to directly assist the mentee to improve a specific skill
• Expert: to act as a source of technical/professional knowledge
• Source of organizational material: to be able to explain university policies, culture, values
• Role model: to promote and encourage positive behaviors in others
• Source of feedback: to provide constructive feedback
• Confidant: to express fears and concerns to
• Motivator: to encourage the achievement of goals and boost morale

Why be a mentor?
• We all received advice and guidance in our careers to get us where we are today. Mentoring is a charitable "pay it forward" act in which you can pass on that favor to the next generation of scientists.
• The program is designed to not be very time consuming. Depending on the needs of the mentee it can typically involve a couple of lunches or coffee breaks per semester.
• Feedback from previous years show that mentors have made a tangible difference to the careers of many junior scientists in the Bolin Centre (even though it was not always obvious to the mentor).
• The service can count on your CV and indicate commitment to education.
• It will make you feel good!

What Have Previous Mentees Thought About the Program?
"The program has been incredibly helpful. At the time I reached out I was the middle of my PhD, I had not much supervisor time and had serious concerns about getting delayed. The mentorship has helped to keep focused and get back on track. "

“It’s also great to get a perspective of someone who is not connected to my project, but is very experienced and knowledgeable about this kind of work. “

"It was especially usefully to get to talk with a female mentor about what it is like being a woman in science, since not many of the people I usually work with can give any good insight when it comes to this aspect.”

“I got good advice on the general timing and prioritizing of different tasks during my PhD.”

“The mentor program is a great idea and I would highly recommend it and will also sign up for it again.”

For questions or comments, please email the program administrators Agatha de Boer ( or Malin Kylander (