Lab Culture

Mentoring Philosophy:

Just like an immune system cannot depend on one cell to fight off an infection, I believe scientific research requires productive collaborations. In our quest to understand the molecular mechanisms of how complex systems like diet, the microbiota, and the immune system interact we draw on concepts, techniques, and expertise from a range of disciplines. At the same time, each lab member will have clearly defined scientific projects to ensure that they can focus their primary research efforts. My goal as a mentor is to foster these collaborations and development of research projects by providing a supportive research environment with clear communication.

Our research team values creativity, curiosity, and camaraderie. Science is never a straightforward path – it would be boring if it were! But that means effort doesn’t always equate to the classic metrics of scientific progress. We aim to celebrate well-designed and executed experiments regardless of the result. Importantly, mistakes happen as part of the scientific process but the only real misstep is not talking and learning from these  – by sharing these with each other we can both commiserate and strategize.

Giving and getting feedback:

When you start, we will meet to discuss our backgrounds, mentoring styles, expectations I have for you, expectations you have for me, what projects/topics are most exciting to you, and what experiences you hope to come away with. After these initial conversations, we will have weekly 1:1 meetings where we will continue these conversations; provide constructive criticism; celebrate successes; and work together to troubleshoot problems.

Mentoring is an ever-evolving process, which I hope to continue to grow with open feedback from lab members on my mentorship style – what works and what can be improved. The 1:1 meetings are a great time for this feedback. It is helpful for me to have specific times where we set aside time for these conversations before getting into science.

Weekly lab meeting:

We start each meeting with announcements and each lab member shares a quick (1 min) update. The main talk (45-60 minutes), is presented by one lab member and is focused on ongoing experiments.

Annual planning meetings (IDP):

I meet with each lab member at the beginning of every year to discuss accomplishments and challenges of the past year; research, professional, and personal goals for the upcoming year; and general feedback/lab culture. We will both prepare a pre-written document outline these topics and then together we will plan a strategy for the upcoming year.

Lab adventures:

While we are a new lab we are excited to start yearly traditions of lab adventures. Ideas include: Lab art day, picnics at Lake Mendota, lab retreats, and more! Stay tuned for updates on new lab adventures!