Friday, June 20, 2014

New academic lab thoughts, recruiting, goals

I am starting my lab in the School of Life Sciences (housed in the Biodesign Institute) at Arizona State University and recruiting all levels: undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and a programmer/computational lab manager.

I am thinking through how I want my lab to run, and what kind of advisor I want to be. I think having a clear list of expectations and responsibilities will help. So, I'll start it here, put a copy on my lab website, and update as needed. Please share your thoughts and comments, especially what has worked for you (as an undergraduate, grad student, postdoc, or advisor).

Postdocs
The ad for postdocs is here. Appointments for postdocs are one year, and renewable for up to three years. I'm looking for postdocs who will be excellent colleagues and mentors to the other members of the lab.

My responsibilities to my postdocs:
  • Assist with identifying and writing postdoctoral fellowships
  • Develop project ideas, including independent projects that can be taken with the postdoc
  • Interpret results
  • Proof-read manuscripts
  • Discuss future career goals (e.g., do you want to teach, go into academia, continue in research?), and plan ways to facilitate these goals
  • Support travel to at least one meeting per year
  • Meet regularly to discuss progress & pitfalls
Expectations of my postdocs:
  • Participate in weekly lab meetings
  • Prepare for our regular progress/pitfalls meetings and a follow up email of progress and goals 
  • Maintain a set of lab notes, including directories of data, annotated codes & versions, detailed methods. These need to sufficient to reproduce results without additional instructions.
  • Attend departmental seminars
  • Participate in general lab responsibilities (servers, maintain common areas, taking turns hosting visitors)
  • Be available in the lab/office for a minimum pre-arranged set of hours to facilitate interactions
  • Optional, but preferred: Mentor at least one undergraduate student

Graduate Students
I missed the graduate student recruitment, but I can still bring in a graduate student this year, working together with the department, if there is mutual interest. I am also happy to discuss plans with juniors and seniors in college, who are interested in graduate school.

My responsibilities to my graduate students: 
  • Assist with identifying and writing graduate student fellowships (before and during PhD)
  • Develop project ideas
  • Interpret results
  • Proof-read and contribute to writing of manuscripts
  • Discuss future career goals (e.g., do you want to teach, go into academia, continue in research?), and plan ways to facilitate these goals
  • Support travel to at least one meeting per year
  • Meet weekly to discuss progress and pitfalls

Expectations of my graduate students:
  • Participate in weekly lab meetings
  • Prepare for our regular progress/pitfalls meetings and a follow up email of progress and goals 
  • Maintain a set of lab notes, including directories of data, annotated codes & versions, detailed methods. These need to sufficient to reproduce results without additional instructions.
  • Write and submit a pre-doctoral fellowship proposal
  • Proof-read manuscripts from other lab members
  • Regularly attend departmental seminars
  • Present a poster or talk of research progress at conference at least once a year.
  • Participate in general lab responsibilities (servers, maintain common areas, taking turns hosting visitors)
  • Be available in the lab/office for a minimum pre-arranged set of hours to facilitate interactions
  • Optional, but preferred: Mentor at least one undergraduate student

Undergraduates

I really enjoy working with undergraduate research students (see my past students here). There are many projects in bioinformatics and computational biology for undergraduate students. If you are an undergraduate interested in working in my lab, please read through the kinds of research we do, and the following expectations and responsibilities, then email me 1) your resume, and 2) one page or less describing your research interests and course background.

My responsibilities to my undergraduate students: 
  • Preparing a structured project
  • Analyzing and interpreting results
  • Proof-read and contribute substantially to writing results
  • Discuss future career goals (e.g., do you want to teach, go into academia, continue in research?), and plan ways to facilitate these goals
  • Meet weekly to discuss progress and pitfalls

Expectations of my undergraduate students:
  • Participate in weekly lab meetings
  • Prepare for our regular progress/pitfalls meetings and a follow up email of progress and goals 
  • Maintain a set of lab notes, including directories of data, annotated codes & versions, detailed methods. These need to sufficient to reproduce results without additional instructions.
  • Present a short talk or poster of research results to the lab once a year.
  • Be available in the lab/office for a minimum pre-arranged set of hours to facilitate interactions


6 comments:

Antonio Marco said...

Congratulations for the job! I worked in the Biodesing for about two years. Hope you like hot weather and saguaros.

mathbionerd said...

Thank you! I like them both! I think I could be happy pretty much anywhere though. :)

Mark P said...

Congrats!!

mathbionerd said...

Thank you!!

BillyPaul Holbrook said...

Wilson, I love to see you post what YOUR responsibilities are as an adviser. This is rarely touched on in school. This clarity helps set the standard with your students. Kudos!

One item you should add (depending on the exact research)to every person's responsibility list is a safety action item. Vast majority of academic research labs are not operated in the safest manner and would fail to meet commercial regulations. It was few and far between when I heard a professor mention lab safety. At our company, we are encouraged to start every meeting with a short 5 minute safety discussion. In addition, we meet once a month for 15-30 minutes to discuss a safety item at length. These meetings are to make people aware of potential hazards and to bring up concerns. The thought behind this is if you can prevent and take care of small safety concerns, in doing so you sidestep the larger and often fatal ones.

Best of luck to you!

mathbionerd said...

Thanks BP! Yes, safety is a definite concern. I was also thinking of having a general lab expectations section. I'm at a crossroads now, of not being sure whether I'll have a wet lab (I'd like to) or not, so the kinds of safety requirements are still up in the air.