A colleague visited this weekend to do some research, and I spent a lot of time helping him. This was a pleasure because this type of research is something I greatly enjoy and because I like this colleague very much. I was also happy to help him because he has been such a great help to me over the years, although we have never collaborated directly in research.
We had the same grad advisor, although not at the same time. My weekend visitor was already a professor at another university when I was a student. He visited his old grad department from time to time when I was a student, and he was one of the few people who took me seriously as a researcher at the time. I remember very clearly how much I appreciated this, and I will be forever grateful to him for his kindness and respect.
He has continued to be a kind and supportive colleague over the years, providing cheerful advice and assistance whenever needed. He has been particularly helpful to me (and many others) in terms of the teaching aspects of being a professor.
There is much talk about the importance of mentors and others who support younger scientists. For those of us who are now at mid-career or later, the most typical way for us to 'give back' is to try to be good mentors in turn and support the next generation(s) of scientists. It is nice, though, when the occasion arises to help the specific individuals who helped us when we most needed it, and that's why I am so glad that I could help my colleague this weekend. In addition, we got some very excellent results, and that is thrilling in its own right.
6 months ago