About Gradmentor

This site is maintained by Scott Kerlin, Ph.D., owner of Kerlin & Associates Research. A detailed summary of my academic career history is located at LinkedIn.

I’ve been a counselor, an academic research director, and a passionate advocate for student success for more than three decades. I founded the graduate student support network Gradmentor as part of my private counseling practice in 1995 following several years of reflecting about my Ph.D. journey.

Ever since I first founded the American Educational Research Association Graduate Studies research network online in 1994 along with my colleague Bobbi Smith, I have embraced the potential of the Internet for connecting with thousands of other graduate students, faculty, and researchers worldwide.

I’ve worked for and studied at several major research universities and colleges in North America. These include Northwestern University (my undergraduate institution), University of Oregon (my graduate university including PhD), University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Saybrook University (San Francisco), the University of British Columbia (Canada), Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), University of Victoria (B.C. Canada), Vancouver Island University (BC Canada), Queen’s University (Ontario Canada) and Lakehead University (Ontario Canada).

Academically, I have a broad range of scholarly training in my undergraduate and graduate years, including engineering & sciences, organizational and humanistic psychology, human relations, management & human resources, counseling, social science & human development, neuropsychology, research development, public administration, and student services administration.

I published two of my academic conference papers on the subject of the “survival of the fittest” culture in Ph.D. education. The first was “Pursuit of the Ph.D.: ‘Survival of the Fittest’, or is it Time for a New Approach?” and the second “Surviving the Doctoral Years: Critical Perspectives.”  In 2016, an article from The Atlantic by Te-Erika Patterson entitled “Why Do So Many Graduate Students Quit?” cited these papers as evidence for why nearly one in two doctoral students who begin their studies never finish.


In the year 2000, my professional colleague Bobbi and I were joint recipients of the “Friend of Graduate-Professional Students” award from the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. Her dissertation was a critical examination of factors affecting women’s doctoral education experiences. It is entitled “Breaking the Silence: Toward a Theory of Women’s Doctoral Persistence“. We jointly managed a doctoral student support network online (AERA-GSL Graduate Studies Network) for several years.

From 2005 to 2016 I gained wonderful experience managing graduate student professional development and institutional research programs at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Saybrook University in San Francisco along with supporting doctoral student research development at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia Canada. From these activities I learned about the institutional side of graduate student support services and I had access to a treasure-trove of data on doctoral student attrition.

I am passionate about issues of diversity, equity and social justice in the U.S. and in Canada, and I’ve devoted much of my work in higher education to supporting institutional diversity initiatives.

In addition to my career-based research experience, I have maintained an active research interest in several academic directions. Further details are available from my Gradmentor tools, graduate references, and research interest pages.


About Me on a Personal Level

I’m currently based in the San Francisco Bay area, where I have made my home for the past 10 years. Previously I resided in British Columbia, Canada, in the cities of Vancouver and Victoria, along with Seattle and Portland during my immediate post-doctoral years.

I’m a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, but my strongest affiliation is with Canada and Canadian values. (The CBC is my main news source). I’m socially and politically progressive and humanistic, with a deep sensitivity to issues of social justice, women’s equality, and diversity.

I have always known I am a highly sensitive person (hsp) but my first discovery of psychologist Elaine Aron and her books on this subject opened me to a world of greater understanding. I have tried to integrate much of my learning about HSPs throughout my Gradmentor site.

Recently, I participated in the Via Character Strengths Assessment and it gave me wonderful new insights about my personal strengths and values. If you have not completed this survey I highly recommend it. (The survey itself is free, full reports can be purchased at modest cost). I received 3 summary reports that I would be willing to share upon request.

I’m a frequent user of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Over the years, I consistently assess as an INFJ, but in my recent years I have moved close to the middle, as an INFP. I also like to work with the Strong Interest Inventory. Over my lifetime I have always scored as “Social/Artistic/Investigative“.

In addition to a busy career in higher education, I’ve nurtured a lifetime passion for music, especially jazz and jazz history, photography (outdoors and portrait), traveling in the western mountains and coasts of the U.S. and Canada, writing (completed a 25-chapter novel the year after I finished my Ph.D.), human sexuality and LGBTQI issues.

Please feel free to write to me if you’d like to know more. I look forward to getting to know you!

Scott Kerlin, Gradmentor