Taproot Podcast S1E7: Episode Sessile: Measuring Mentoring and other Bleeps with Brian Dilkes

In this episode, we take a different approach than usual- we bring a conversation we were having offline with our friend Brian Dilkes about a paper that tries to define the key variables that predict a ‘successful’ faculty member. We talk about some really important flaws of the paper, how to define “success”, and what impact really means and how one could/should/would measure it.

Brian Dilkes

Brian Dilkes is a geneticist employed as an Associate Professor in the Biochemistry Department at Purdue.  He is a member of the Purdue Center For Plant Biology, a center devoted to increasing our understanding of fundamental processes in plants.   Brian joined ASPB as a graduate student at the University of Arizona, where he studied with Brian Larkins.  He met Liz Haswell as a result of their shared history with first-season Taproot podcast interviewee Luca Comai, and Brian met Ivan Baxter at an ASPB meeting in Seattle.

His career is characterized by a pattern of initially rejecting the advice of his mentors and then waiting to hear himself repeat it.  Brian hopes you will have the radical courage to make your data available for reuse.

How to listen, download and subscribe to The Taproot podcast


Planet Dilkes websites:






The paper we are discussing – Prediction of junior faculty success in biomedical research: comparison of metrics and effects of mentoring programs

Paper that defines success as whether your faculty advisor thought you were successful

Letter Liz and colleagues wrote in response

For those who wish to make the metric the target (DON’T DO IT!!!!):

Liz Google Scholar Page

Ivan Google Scholar Page

Brian Google Scholar Page



Twitter handles




The Taproot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications in plant biology are created. In each episode, co-hosts Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter take a paper from the literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of its authors.

Subscribe to The Taproot podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Questions, feedback, suggestions?  Contact us at taproot@plantae.org.

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