Connecting Research Scientists and Technologists Working in Unique Roles at ABRF

The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) is an international membership organisation, with 1500 members working in shared research facilities and laboratories at about 300 academic institutions around the world. Members come to ABRF with backgrounds in either scientific research or they are technologists working in those facilities.

ABRF had been using a different mentoring platform for their mentoring programme, but recognised a need to change due to a limitation in reporting, evaluation and it only being limited to participants in the US. They wanted a system that could engage with members in all 17 countries. They went through an exhaustive process to select a system and chose sfG MentorNet. Ken Schoppmann, Executive Director at ABRF said, “It has worked out very well. We have a lot of flexibility in the programme. We can combine automated matching and screening with the connections and it has worked out very well for us. We have even had a greater interest in participation than we expected, so we’re looking forward to growing the programme.”

sfG MentorNet has helped them grow the participation outside of the US, providing more value for members in those countries. Mentors are often experienced professionals in their areas and help mentor people who are at the beginning of their careers and still learning about what is available in core facilities. Ken explains, “The system enables people to connect on a regular basis, to share and communicate. And for those of us administering the programme, we have good information about the activities that they have been involved in, who’s connected with whom and are able to help them with questions they may have about how to find a mentor or mentee and support the introduction and on-going work together. So it has worked very well for us.”

“Our professional community is unique, in that many of our members may not have a scientific degree or background, so their contributions are unique within the academic environment. Having a mentoring platform provides a way for them to connect with other experienced professionals in this somewhat unique aspect of team science, so we look forward to expanding the programme over time and helping people make the most from their mentoring relationships and the platform.” Connecting with others in this unique role between bench scientists and other staff personnel and creating relationships with other professionals in this area can be very difficult to find, as they are not in a pure research or staff role. It can make a difference to help people stay in the area, and develop their professional credentials.

“sfG MentorNet has been a great partner,” explains Ken. “From the beginning, we recognised their flexibility and appreciated their willingness to blend the automation available with the platform, with the more personal touch that our committee and the system can provide. We evaluated a number of systems before we made the decision and decided that sfG MentorNet provided that important combination of technology and personal support – and that has proved to be true as we have been expanding the programme. They are always flexible and available to help us. I would recommend sfG MentorNet to others.”