Introducing plant biology graduate students to a culture of mental well-being

Carolyn S. Dewa, Karen Nieuwenhuijsen, Kathy J. Holmes-Sullivan, Alexis K. Singh, Georgia Drakakaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently, an estimated 20%–40% of graduate students have depression and anxiety. In addition, more than half report experiencing high chronic stress. Thus, organizations such as the Plant Science Research Network have highlighted the need to prioritize trainee well-being. This has led to a search for strategies to introduce this cultural change into scientific training. However, for faculty who do not have experience with this topic area, there are few readily available resources from which to draw. In this paper, we describe how two graduate groups, one focused on plant biology and the other on genomics and genetics approached this challenge together by introducing a course on mental and emotional well-being to their incoming first-year graduate students. We describe the research on workplace mental and emotional well-being and disability prevention which served as the basis for the course content. We review the course curriculum, student reflections about what they learned, and implications for future classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00211
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • graduate student education
  • mental health
  • mental well-being
  • plant biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science


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