Categories: Great Mentors, News, Newsletter Issue 2019:2

Great Mentors: Kitt Carpenter

By Emily Lawler and Sebastian Tello-Trillo

Kitt Carpenter was our graduate advisor, and as such he was (and continues to be) a particularly impactful mentor in both of our careers. Reflecting on our time as his advisees, there are several things that stand out:

  • He willingly devotes unbelievable amounts of time and energy to his advisees. Every time we went to him with new results or new ideas, he actively and enthusiastically engaged with us. He asked lots of questions, challenged assumptions, and pushed us to find out more. Once projects were farther along, he willingly read drafts, watched practice presentations, and helped navigate referee reports. Even now that we’ve both now graduated and are no longer his advisees, Kitt continues to provide support from afar and to champion us and our work.
  • He helped us see that failures and rejections are part of the game, and while they are useful learning experiences, they are not a referendum on one’s quality or worth as a researcher. Indeed, he showed us that identifying a project’s weak spots efficiently is an important skill, and that if you don’t get rejections sometimes, then you probably aren’t shooting high enough.
  • He encouraged action that served to not only improve our research, but that also helped integrate us into the profession. Early on in graduate school, he pushed us to submit to conferences, present at seminars, talk to visiting professors. Being encouraged to take these steps (early and often!) during graduate school helped us to develop our professional network, hone presentation skills, and see what it meant to be an academic outside of just writing papers.

We are grateful to have been his advisees and, as we move forward in our careers, we hope to take what he taught us and pay it forward to the next generation of students.

Emily Lawler is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia.

Sebastian Tello-Trillo is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Virginia and a Co-editor of the ASHEcon Newsletter.