Lab Philosophy

I promise to foster a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive lab and mentoring environment. I strive to facilitate the development of excellent scientists capable of critical independent scientific thinking. From my perspective, hallmarks of a well-rounded scientist include the ability to:

1) Identify a compelling and relevant question

2) Articulate and execute a testable hypothesis

3) Analyze, interpret, and visualize data

4) Synthesize data and communicate results in a clear, concise, and well-organized manner

I do not expect incoming lab members to be experts in these areas upon arrival but everybody should be committed to cultivating these skills – I will do everything in my power to help guide you. My approach is to provide a positive and supportive environment while engaging in open-ended and rigorous inquiry. The art of scientific discovery requires commitment, persistence, creativity and above all, curiosity! Research leads us into uncharted territory for which we sometimes have no framework to easily fit novel knowledge into which can be very difficult and mentally challenging. In these instances we must be able to construct new paradigms and be willing to accept that we may be wrong. By embracing rather than fearing the ambiguous line between what is known and unknown the journey hopefully becomes compelling, fun, and exciting!

My commitment TO lab members:

  • I will treat you with respect and dignity.
  • I promise make time to talk with you about your research and/or your academic training. Although I will not be available at the drop of a hat, I will always be available for at least 30 minutes once a week for you with advance notice. It will generally be much more than that, but I will commit to a minimum of 30 minutes in even the busiest of weeks.
  • I will advise you on how to proceed according to the career path that you select (e.g., how to get a postdoctoral position, academic job, etc.). Alternatively, if I am not familiar with the career path you have chosen, I will refer you to people and/or resources that can help to guide you.
  • I will read and comment on any manuscripts, grant applications, or other written materials you give me within 2 weeks (excluding theses/ dissertations). It will generally be in less time than that, but I can guarantee within 2 weeks. Please get these to me at least this long before your deadline, as I may refuse to read such materials if you give me less than that amount of time.
  • I will provide feedback on all oral research presentations that you prepare. Practice talks will occur at least one week before your scheduled seminar/meeting.
  • I will provide you with resources for your research provided that they are available to me, your project has been approved, the expense is reasonable given the laboratory priorities, and you are actively pursuing further funding for it.
  • I will update you on my opinion of your progress, both in research and in your overall training upon request.
  • I will introduce you to others in the field and help you make contacts that will be useful throughout your career.

My expectation OF lab members:

  • I expect you to treat me, and others in the lab, with respect and dignity.
  • I expect you to communicate to me concerns that you have about your research and/ or our interactions. Communication is critical for both of us to keep our relationship productive.
  • As academia is not a 9-5 job, I don’t expect you to be a 9-5 student. Your schedule can be flexible (although often dependent on your experimental responsibilities. Your objective is to execute your research in a careful and precise yet expeditious manner. As a rule of thumb, I suggest a minimum of about 10-15 hours for undergraduates and 40 hours a week for graduate students of productive research.
  • I expect you to follow the lab rules that will be given to you when you begin and potentially updated each semester. This includes all required safety training.
  • Read the primary literature in your area of study.
  • Update me regularly (at least once every 2 weeks) in informal meetings. This is in addition to research presentations in lab meetings at least once a semester.
  • To actively pursue funding for your project and support (in the form of Sigma Xi grants, NSF DDIGs, and/ or NSF predoctoral fellowships).
  • To present the results of your research at national meetings at least every other year. I will cover your travel expenses for at one conference.
  • I expect you to attend seminars regularly and to participate in other departmental activities.
  • I expect that you be willing to contribute to the lab as a whole, both intellectually and occasionally with requested research outside of your projects.