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Expectations

 

Guiding principles for the lab:

  • Do good, thoughtful, exciting research.

  • Think broadly and remember the big picture.

  • Develop independence, time management, critical thinking, and initiative.

  • Be a chef and not a cook

When you rotate:

Welcome to the lab! We’re a fun group of people that like to work in the lab and have fun at the same time. You will find that we are a very friendly group and that we embrace each person and their individuality. We work hard, and we strive to be the best.


My expectations for you are:

  • Learn the techniques of the lab

  • Understand the lab atmosphere, future research directions, and areas of interest

  • Meet weekly to discuss, especially your research and other scientific ideas

  • Take time to do well in your coursework

  • Attend journal club, seminar, and Friday meeting

  • Attend and participate in group meeting

  • Present your work during group meeting and, potentially, at Friday meeting

  • Engage in your research

  • Work as much or as little as you would like but figure out a balance that works for all

  • Finish with an “exit interview” at which we can discuss the rotation and your impressions


At the end of your rotation, you should have an idea of how the lab works, how mentoring within the lab works, and the projects that we are pursuing. Choosing a lab for your thesis project is a big decision, and you should consider whether our lab has an environment where you can thrive. You should consider your relationship with the mentor, projects that interest you, and the lab atmosphere and how you can contribute to it.

As a master’s degree student:

Welcome to the lab! Now that you know you like it around here, it’s time to get to experimenting! You will have a lot of pressure to do well in coursework and remain productive in the lab. Be sure to balance your lab life with your personal life and health. We will work closely to develop a thesis on an interesting project relevant to your scientific and career goals.


My expectations for you are:

  • All of the criteria from your rotation

  • Think critically about your experiments, why you’re doing them, what you will do next, and what it means

  • Learn how to troubleshoot your experiments

  • Understand that (most) protocols have flexibility: optimize your experiments for your needs

  • Prioritize your time, keeping your short-term and long-term goals in mind

  • Motivate yourself to do the best that you can

  • Read the scientific literature concerning your area of interest

  • Develop your own ideas in collaboration with the PI

  • Contribute to papers and grant proposals with data and ideas

  • Write your own thesis proposal

  • Write your own thesis

  • Meet all graduate school deadlines

  • Take ownership of your project

  • Be innovative and work to improve the lab and yourself, either through techniques, organization, or materials

  • Learn how to organize your data

  • Take initiative to identify new ideas or procedures

  • Work independently and manage your time

  • Multitask, moving multiple experiments forward simultaneously

  • Present at virology journal club

  • Present at Friday meeting

  • Present at St. Albert’s Day and campus events


As a MS student, you should be considering what your next step is. The sooner we can envision this future, the sooner we can develop a plan. My goal is that everyone in the lab publishes their work within the time of their thesis. This takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but the rewards will be great.

As a PhD student:

Welcome to the lab! This will be your “home” for the next few years. Now that you have your “home,” you should settle in, get ready to learn how to do science, and get to experimenting. You will have a lot of different pressures during the time of your PhD, so make sure to make time for yourself to stay healthy.


My expectations for you are:

  • All of the criteria from your rotation and expectations with MS students.

  • Communicate your science frequently to me, to others, at presentations, and at conferences.

  • Write your own papers

  • Write fellowship applications

  • Identify funding sources for fellowships that apply to you

  • Author two first-author publications

  • Read the literature concerning your area and beyond

  • Push your project forward independently (with guiding advice, of course)

  • Multitask, moving multiple ideas forward simultaneously

  • Attend and present at national and international meetings

  • Learn how to develop a scientific idea and envision publications

  • Enhance your graphic design skills as a complement to your presentation skills


In science, you are judged primarily on your publications and your fellowships (funding). While we can certainly discuss the merits and pitfalls of this, the reality is that people (including future employers) will judge you based on these metrics and quite possibly little else. Thus, you need to publish: early and frequently. Collaborations are a great way to increase your skills and publish. We have a highly collaborative environment in the lab, and you should contribute to this.


I expect each PhD student to apply for fellowships, especially through NIH. Writing a fellowship application allows you to envision a project and all that goes into it. This is an invaluable exercise in grant writing and earning a fellowship is one of the most rewarding accomplishments in science. A fellowship makes you stand out amongst your peers.


Your key to graduation is to demonstrate that you have “checked all of the boxes”: publications, fellowship, maturity, scientific ability. There is no time requirement or limit.

 As a postdoc:

Welcome to the lab! Things might be a little different around here compared to your PhD lab, but don’t worry – we’ll welcome you and you’ll become acquainted quickly. The expectations for you are a little different than MS or PhD students. You’ve sharpened your scientific skills in your PhD and now it’s time to dig in and have some fun in a new system.


My expectations for you are:

  • Do great science – come up with new ideas that don’t necessarily “fit the mold”

  • Bring your expertise and new ideas to the lab to augment our work

  • Communicate frequently

  • Master your presentation skills

  • Write fellowship applications and your own papers

  • Mentor younger trainees in the lab

  • Discuss your future goals frequently and develop a plan for your future

  • Attend and present at national and international meetings

  • Focus on your goals


Being a postdoc is a “weird” time in life, and you’ll have a lot of pressures. You’ll also have a lot of freedom to do fun experiments. You should take this opportunity to explore and use the skills that you worked so hard to develop. Do the crazy experiments. Try the new reagents. Push the boundaries and be brave. It’s also important to have fun and take care of yourself while doing it.

Other important things:

  • Communicate

  • Be a team player

  • Mistakes are okay and are going to happen. Embrace failure and learn how to prevent or respond to mistakes or problems. Of course, don’t brush off mistakes – take ownership of your mistakes and learn from them while correcting them.

  • Always think of new ideas and don’t be afraid to consider “crazy” experiments.

  • Be creative and have fun in the lab (within reason!)

  • Realize your resources and use them: the department is full of rich resources (the people and equipment!)

  • It’s okay to ask for help. Other people generally like being asked if they can help you.

  • Be open to criticism and understand the difference between beneficial criticism and personal attacks

  • Seek out collaborations within the lab, the department, and beyond

  • Enjoy science. Working in science is a privilege that not many people will ever experience.

  • Do not be late to meetings

  • Do not use your phone or a computer during lab meetings

  • Stay organized as best possible, both mentally and physically

  • Take responsibility for your actions

  • Don’t make excuses

  • While your title might be “student,” this is a job / career and should be respected as such