A Personalized Approach to Mentoring: Dr. Douglas Spearot Earns The 2023-2024 Herbert Wertheim Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award 

In the academic realm, mentorship plays a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of researchers. Dr. Spearot, who has been an academic advisor for over 19 years, will receive the honored Herbert Wertheim Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Dr. Spearot practices a very personalized approach to mentoring, deviating from conventional group meetings. He opts for one-on-one sessions with his students, taking the meetings out of his office and into their own workspaces. This approach allows him to observe firsthand how students manage their data, organize simulations and theories, and navigate through various analytical tools such as Python, Excel, or Matlab. 

“I like to see how students are working with their computing systems and how they’re managing data. Meeting in their office eliminates distractions and fosters a more natural and focused environment for discussing their work.” – Dr. Spearot 

When asked about maintaining a balance between providing support and allowing students to develop independence in their research, Dr. Spearot responded emphatically in support of individualized attention without micromanaging. He meets with each student once a week to review their progress, address challenges, and set goals for the following week. Once goals are set, it becomes the responsibility of the students to navigate and complete their plans. 

“There’s a balance where you give students the attention they need, but then you let them go figure it out. Go fail. And then we can talk about what worked or what didn’t work,” – Dr. Spearot 

Close relationships and individualized attention continue with celebrations of his students’ successes. Dr. Spearot celebrates successful dissertation defense with small luncheons where the location is chosen by the students. When this wasn’t possible during the pandemic, he organized a graduation hooding ceremony at his house for students who successfully completed their PhDs. It was held outside near his pool with Dr. Spearot, his wife, the students, and a guest of their choice.  

Congratulations Dr. Douglas Spearot on this remarkable achievement and thank you for opening the door to share your thoughts and experiences with us. MAE is fortunate and proud to have such considerate and insightful faculty members like you contributing to our academic community.