MENTEE – Georgia Pollard

Georgia Pollard, PhD student and IMNIS mentee in the MedTech-Pharma Pilot in 2016 – University of South Australia.

“The most rewarding aspect of the program for me was quite simply the emotional support…my mentor sessions made me feel heard and supported.”

Hello, my name is Georgia Pollard and I was part of the South Australian IMNIS pilot. I’m particularly interested in the practical aspects of urban food production – helping people to better measure and track the productivity and resource efficiency of their food gardens.

I’m currently a PhD candidate with the University of South Australia.  My research focuses on urban agriculture, namely the productive potential of existing urban food gardens (their resource efficiency and yield), in addition to the social value they hold for those involved. This data is collected via the Edible Gardens Project as part of the Discovery Circle. The project collects quantitative and qualitative data from an online survey, in-field garden data collection, and a series of focus groups. I am responsible for project design, promotion, engagement and managing participants, analysing the results and writing multiple reports – including individual garden data reports for each participant, regular updates for the funders and other collaborators, media releases, social media updates and writing up the results as open-access peer reviewed publications. For statistical analysis of the data, I’m currently using a combination of Microsoft Excel, IBM SPSS, QSR NVivo Qualitative Analysis Software and R. Collaborators and funders of this project include: The University of South Australia, the Government of South Australia, the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, the City of Marion, the City of Salisbury, community gardens, school gardens, other garden clubs, food swap groups and community markets.

I’m also keenly interested in science communication – for science to be meaningful, relevant and useful it needs to be effectively communicated. I write a science blog on the different aspects of clear communication, with ideas, tips and stories of remarkable communicators and my own experiences. You can view my blog at: www.urbanagscientist.com

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

I participated in the IMNIS program as I was already part of an informal mentoring process with an academic of UniSA who researches mentoring and was involved in the development process of the pilot study. But I originally agreed to take part in mentoring as I could see the value of receiving guidance and support from someone who was not one of my supervisors. A different perspective.

What was the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

The most important aspect of the professional relationship was how equal it was. We were both bringing our different experiences to the discussions, and there were so many connections and ideas. My mentor was from a different field to myself and my supervisors and this provided a refreshing perspective.

How often did you meet with your mentor and did you prepare for these meetings? What was the best piece of advice you received?

We met once a fortnight, often for 1.5 – 2 hours. We both prepared for these meetings by updating and reviewing our mentoring record. This was our online record of each meeting (discussion topics, activities, shared learning etc.) The best advice I received was about time management. I was struggling with finding time to write. My mentor suggested that I had to view writing as a valuable activity and to set aside regular time slots throughout my week to help writing become a habit. He also told me that writing is simply practice, and that writing an outline is a valuable first step.

Would you recommend participating in the IMNIS program to your peers?

I would recommend the IMNIS program to my peers. It is wonderful extra support and as a bit of a reality check – generally you are doing better than you think. Also another perspective that you respect, can help you find all sorts of solutions for issues.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you?

The most rewarding aspect of the program for me was quite simply the emotional support. My mentor never missed a session, always scheduled enough time for us to talk, and always pointed out the things I was doing well. Supervisors are often incredibly busy and there never seems enough time to cover everything with them. But my mentor sessions made me feel heard and supported.

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