Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lab meeting: first semester

A few months ago we had a great discussion on twitter about the best and worst practices for lab meetings (Storified here). Please feel free to comment here if you find something missing from that discussion.

This is my first semester as head of the lab (also called PI, for Principal Investigator). Right now, the lab is composed solely of undergraduate students (a brief overview of projects). That has actually made it slightly easier to plan lab meetings. We meet weekly, and are using it almost as a lab-training course. Here is our schedule:

Sept 10: Lab introductions, expectations, and getting comfortable in the terminal 
Sept 17: Course credit, Lab paperwork; Post-graduation options; Introduction to command line (Start here: 
Sept 24: How to read and understand a scientific paper (read this) 
Oct 1: Command line continued (Install datasciencetoolbox) 
Oct 8: ASHG practice talk 
Oct 15: Tutorial on VPN and SSH 
Oct 22: NO LAB MEETING - ASHG Conference 
Oct 29: Presentation from visiting researcher - Laurent Frantz 
Nov 5: Journal Club 
Nov 12: Summary of ASHG meeting 
Nov 19: TBD 
Nov 26: NO LAB MEETING - Happy Thanksgiving! 
Dec 3: Student project Updates And End of Semester Wrap Up 
Dec 10: NO LAB MEETING - Good Luck on Finals!

The students gave me great feedback on my ASHG talk that I think really improved it.

They've also been wonderfully interactive with me and with the invited speaker. 

I decided that once a semester I want to have a journal club. In this case, it might be better to call it a journal survey club. Each student is assigned one journal, and asked to read through the most recent issue (or most recent few issues if they want) to find one article that they find interesting. Prior to lab meeting, each student will send me the link to the article, a comment about the article, and a question about the article. I will compile these links, questions, and comments on the blog, and we will discuss them at lab meeting. We might push things around a little, because with 18 students, we may need a couple lab meetings to make it through all the papers!


Brandon Curtis said...

Group meetings are far too often a snoozefest, but this looks awesome so far!

For journals, you might consider building something like this:

It automatically scrapes RSS feeds of all of the journals you want, filters by keyword, and posts each match as a blog post that links to the original article. Cobbled together from a mess of custom services, but you get the idea.

mathbionerd said...

Thanks! I want to make it worthwhile to attend lab meeting for all involved.

I like that feed, but think it would clutter my posts, and I'd like to keep the blog focused on describing the science (where I have to think about it), or on experiences in academia.

Brandon Curtis said...

Oh right! I meant it as a separate site for lab or individual use. For my lab I set up the main feed on atmospheric plasmas and subfeeds for postdoc projects on thin-film and flexible transistors and dusty space plasmas.

The article flowrate can be intimidating, but when collaborators ask "have you seen paper X?" I can usually answer in the affirmative.

mathbionerd said...

Ahh... I see. That makes a lot of sense.