Alexander Shcherbakov

Department: Chemistry
Hometown: Seattle, WA
GCF Position: OVC Graduate Advising Project

One of the most critical people in every graduate student’s life is their research advisor. My GCF project is aimed at improving the graduate school experience for students at MIT by improving career and research advising across all the departments of our institute. Our team is currently gathering data from all the departments at MIT, and compiling resources on best practices in advising both internal to MIT, and from other schools and programs. We seek to ensure that all graduate students will find a research advisor whose advising practices will fit their needs. Further, we are working to provide resources to faculty to learn about best practices in mentorship which enable their students to develop and reach their goals in graduate school and beyond.

Alexander and his wife Wenbi are both Graduate Community Fellows and work to enhance the graduate student community.

How does your GCF project enhance the graduate student community?

This project directly aims to enhance the experience of the graduate community by recognizing and improving long-standing research advisor-advisee relationship issues that concern almost every graduate student at our school. Our team has been working together with the gradSAGE group to understand the issues that most students run into with their advisors, and collecting data across departments to try to understand where these issues stem from. We are also working to establish a workshop on best practices in mentorship, so that faculty have the resources they need to be effective mentors.

What is your favorite part of working in your GCF position?

I definitely feel that my favorite part of this GCF position has been meeting so many new people, all of whom care deeply about improving the lives of graduate students. I have had the opportunity to meet professors at peer institutions who have been fervently working to pilot programs at their schools aimed at improving career development and advising relationships for graduate students. I have also met fellow graduate students at MIT who have been working to improve the graduate advising climate in their programs. And of course, I enjoy working with my GCF project leaders, who are extremely supportive and care deeply about improving the graduate school experience at MIT. Meeting so many new people has really shown me that people care and understand the difficulties that graduate students face.