About Faculty Mentors

Each Wisconsin Idea Fellowship project must include a UW-Madison faculty/ instructional staff mentor. Mentors must agree to work with students before a proposal is submitted.

A WIF project can be based on current mentor research/ work or it can be a completely new endeavor. Some WIF projects have been used to allow students to help mentors further current work. Other projects are new ideas from students that mentors provide their support for.

$2,000 per project is awarded to the mentor's home academic department for development and implementation of WIF project. This amount is $1,000 for summer-only projects.


How do I approach a prospective mentor?

  • Remember faculty/ instructional staff members are busy people, so contact them as early as possible.
  • If you don't personally know your prospective mentor, research their areas of interest. If you can explain how your WIF project idea connects with their field of research, you are much more likely to find a mentor.
  • Talk to faculty/ instructional staff you do personally know and ask them if they can connect you with a possible mentor.


Can I have more than one mentor?

  • You can only have one official mentor. Though you certainly can consult as many faculty/ instructional staff members as you want.


What if I haven't heard back from my prospective mentor?
  • Wait two weeks for a response.
  • If you still have not heard back, follow up with an email or phone call concisely restating your original message.
  • Make it clear that you are willing to meet them when and where it works best for them.


Can a TA be my mentor?

  • No. Mentors must be faculty or instructional staff members.


Can I work with a mentor who is on leave?

  • Yes. Make sure they've assured you they have enough time and sufficient contact still that they can play an active role in your project.
  • Make sure they will be able to give you a grade for your project.