We Are Here for the Students: Anthropology Professor Discusses Importance of Mentorship

Metin Eren, Ph.D., associate professor of archaeology at Kent State University, was recently interviewed on a CITI “On Campus” podcast hosted by Ed Butch and shared his insights on the importance of mentoring students. 

“It’s something that all faculty need to take very seriously,” Eren said. “Students not only should be taken care of in the classroom, but we also need to get students involved in research and activities in the field. It’s vitally important.”

“For me, I’ve learned that every student is unique,” Eren said. “So, you can’t treat students in any sort of cookie cutter manner. You have to tailor your mentoring to each student.”

Eren goes on to describe his metaphor of universities as factories of knowledge and the students’ role in that.

“It is the job of the university to produce the output of knowledge and you do that through research,” Eren said.

“It (published research) also opens doors for students," Eren said. "If you have undergraduates who are actively and substantively contributing to research and being coauthors, if not first authors, on papers, when they apply for jobs and graduate schools and their potential employer sees that they’ve been published, it’s hard to overestimate the impact that seeing that does for their future prospects.”

“Our philosophy is that there is no scientific study that is ever perfect anywhere,” Eren said. “We emphasize to students that this doesn’t need to be perfect. Do your best.”

He gives the analogy of football: “They’re not trying to score a touchdown. Every scientific paper is just moving the ball a couple of yards down the field. Once they realize this, it becomes very easy for them to publish and do research.”

When asked about how students should handle time management, Eren explains that time is not an infinite resource and that in his lab the coursework has to come first.

“You have to make choices,” Eren said. “I think it is harder for students to make choices today, through no fault of their own. They have access to Netflix, YouTube and social media and it’s so easy to be distracted by those things.  The choices you make now do influence your future. There are students elsewhere not binge-watching that show and are instead doing research in their spare time.”

“You will never have as much time in your life as you do now to read books,” Eren said. “The library is the greatest resource. Read popular books on science.”

Eren has published over 200 scholarly papers and three edited books. His research, which focuses on Stone Age archaeology and the evolution of technology, has been regularly featured in international media, including PBS NOVA, the History Channel, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NPR, and MeatEater, among many others.

About CITI:
To learn more about Eren’s research, visit: Kent State University Experimental Archelogy Lab: https://sites.google.com/view/ksuexarchlab/home?authuser=0

POSTED: Tuesday, January 23, 2024 03:37 PM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2024 03:50 PM
Jim Maxwell