Trainee – Advisor Memorandum of Understanding

The Behavioral Plasticity Research Institute (BPRI) aims to provide interdisciplinary training for student researchers enhancing their capacity to engage and conduct cross-disciplinary research while improving their understanding of phenotypic plasticity. Specifically, the BPRI aims to provide training, resources, and networking opportunities that will promote the career goals of BPRI trainees. Additionally, the BPRI wants to document how these efforts impact trainees and their overall education experience across BPRI partnering institutions. Therefore, the BPRI has created this memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide trainees and advisors with an overview of expectations. Upon signing this memorandum, all trainees and advisors acknowledge that they have: 1) read and understood the expectations for participating in BPRI activities, and 2) agree to conduct BPRI research with excellence and integrity, and to disseminate their work through relevant channels (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, academic conferences, and the GLI Network).

The BPRI defines its trainees in different ways according to the use of BPRI resources and the capacity of the trainees who are engaged in BPRI activities.

  1. BPRI core trainees are students who receive major financial support (in the form of a research assistantship i.e., RA) from the BPRI for at least one semester, or in the summer, during any given fiscal year and/or for whom the BPRI research contributes as the major component of their thesis work. RA support is generally defined as devoting at least 20 hours per week for BPRI research activities or as specified by the primary institution overseeing training.
  2. BPRI cohort trainees are students who are using BPRI resources (laboratory facilities, colony access) to complete their dissertation or thesis work. In other words, if a student’s dissertation or thesis is derived from data that were collected to achieve the BPRI project goals, the students who use this data are considered as BPRI cohort trainees.
  3. BPRI participants are students who provide their research expertise to achieve a specific task within the BPRI. BPRI participants are considered trainees and are welcome to participate in any BPRI educational training activities. Their membership in the BPRI training cohort is more flexible and participants can opt-out from being BPRI trainees depending on their personal interests.

BPRI core and cohort trainees, but not BPRI participants, are expected to:

  • Attend and participate in research meetings and monthly trainees’ meetings focusing on collaboration with other BPRI partnering institutions.
  • Participate in interdisciplinary research opportunities outside of the standard research requirements for obtaining their degree (e.g., the BPRI lab swap). The duration and type of the interdisciplinary training may vary depending on the trainee’s scope of research.
  • Understand that research expectations for trainees are varied according to the primary source of financial support. Supervisors will specify the expectations at the beginning of each semester. For example, when trainees are serving as teaching assistants, their research expectations should be adjusted compared to those serving as research assistants.
  • Participate in BPRI outreach events, professional development activities, training and assessment activities, and diversity and inclusion training. Note: Any training or events that required above and beyond the normal working hours will be compensated following rules and regulations established by the primary and host institutions.
  • Promote the BPRI to prospective students (graduate and undergraduate) and serve as a peer mentor within the BPRI community.
  • Inform their advisor/mentor and the education coordinator of the reason for their absence of any pre-scheduled BPRI training event.
  • Read and acknowledge the Guiding Principles Document developed for their BRPI sponsored lab which outlines core values around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In reference to the individual development plan (IDP):

  • For trainees in 1+ year appointments, complete an IDP to the best of their ability within 60 days of joining a BPRI sponsored laboratory
  • Submit the annual IDP review and a written action plan to meet their goals for the upcoming year to the BPRI education coordinator (by October 1).
  • Participate in the annual IDP review and share their feedback on the annual IDP review process with the BPRI education coordinator.
  • seek guidance on relevant occasions, which include but are not limited to the following: discomfort discussing the IDP with their advisor/mentor; not receiving adequate feedback on their IDP from an advisor/mentor; and need additional independent feedback.

BPRI Advisors/Mentors are expected to:

  • Explain to incoming BPRI trainees what it means to be a BPRI trainee. This includes defining expectations, obligations, privileges, the interdisciplinary nature of the BPRI work, and understanding the value of a diverse community.
  • Explain procedures or protocols related to compensation for additional time commitments linked to BPRI activities (i.e., activities that required in-person presence that happens outside of the primary institution). In general, the BPRI will follow rules and regulations established by the primary and host institutions.
  • Discuss and mutually agree on assigning of research credit. For example, manuscript authorship associated with BPRI-funded activities will follow the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.
  • Facilitate and encourage BPRI trainees’ participation in BPRI educational, outreach, and professional development activities, and diversity and inclusion training.
  • Review with all BPRI lab members the Lab Guiding Principles which outline core values around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Review each BPRI trainee’s progress towards meeting their IDP goals once per year and provide feedback.
  • Facilitate immersive experiences for BPRI trainees and create an inclusive working environment where the fellows feel part of the BPRI community.
  • Promote BPRI trainees’ participation in research projects involving collaboration with other BPRI partners, such as the Global Locust Network, international collaborators, and/or other relevant research groups.
  • Participate in the annual BPRI trainees IDP review and share their feedback with the BPRI education coordinator.