HBIC Award Tips on Finding an International Mentor

Tips for Early Career Researchers (ECRs)

Establishing connections with a mentor can be daunting but it’s a very exciting part of doing research!

Learning how to reach out to others working in your field is an extremely useful career skill and the HBIC Award is a great opportunity to develop your skills. Here are some tips!


  1. Fully research potential mentors. Whose work you are consistently reading? Who sparked your interest at a conference? Look online for their CVs and fields of expertise. Read their papers and look through their track record to see where your work overlaps. Look at content, methodology, settings, and intervention techniques. Don’t be too narrow in your thinking.
  2. Start with local contacts. Ask your current supervisors, team, and colleagues about any international contacts they have that might be good potential matches. Personal connections can facilitate introductions and be really helpful in opening doors.
  3. It’s okay to approach potential mentors without an introduction. If no one in your network has personal connections to offer you, it’s fine to approach them yourself. Senior researchers often receive cold calls and invitations. They were once an ECR too! Be brave, bold, and respectful… and see how it goes!


  1. Be clear on your areas of expertise and interest. Everyone is busy (especially potential mentors), so be friendly but most of all, be concise! List all your possible fields of interest and remember, just a small overlap with your mentor may be enough to spark a collaboration.
  2. Take the time to properly introduce yourself and the HBIC. Invest in writing a tailored message introducing yourself and your areas of expertise and include your CV. Briefly explain the award (share links to the HBIC webpage on the IBTN website), then clearly and directly ask if there they are interested in meeting to discuss applying for the award. Highlight the potential benefits of your project idea for you… but above all for them!
  3. If you feel uncomfortable reaching out yourself, draft the message for your supervisor to send on your behalf. It can sometimes be helpful if the introduction comes from a senior researcher. Remember to include links to your profile and the HBIC award webpage so that potential mentors can quickly establish your credentials and the credentials of the award.


  1. Arrange a virtual meeting.

Once you have established their interest in applying for the award with you, propose a virtual meeting to help develop your application together.

  1. Make it easy for your mentor. Be very clear about what you need from your mentor for the application process. Whenever possible, suggest examples or drafts for their mentor support letter, but always check with your mentor first whether they would like your help to prepare their sections of the application.

Potential Mentors for the 2023 Competition

The following mentors who have indicated their interrest in collaborating with potential applicants for the 2023 competition. Please note that you are not restricted to this list.

Ashraf Kagee
Stellenbosch University

Research interests:

    • Adherence to antiretroviral therapy
    • Common mental disorders among persons living with HIV
    • Stress and trauma
    • Health behaviours; structural barriers to health promotion
    • Various topics related to health psychology and public mental health

Claudio R Nigg
Dept. of Health Science, Institute of Sport Science, University of Bern, Switzerland

Research interests

  • Physical activity & health behavior change theory
  • Obesity prevention in children & adolescents
  • Physical activity promotion among seniors
  • Dissemination of evidence-based clinical & community-based interventions
  • Multiple Health Behavior Change

Amanda Lea Rebar
Central Queensland University

Research interests

  • Habit, motivation, behaviour change and maintenance, physical activity, exercise, health psychology, ecological momentary assessment, time series analyses

Sam Smith
University of Leeds

Research interests

  • Preconception health and behaviour
  • Physical activity before, during and after pregnancy
  • Infant feeding and mental health

Sinead Currie
University of Stirling

Research interests

  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Intervention optimisation and multiphase optimisation strategy
  • Medication adherence
  • Cancer in high risk populations
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Trial methodology
  • Cancer screening participation