“Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.”
― Lise Meitner
- To do quality science while prioritising the well-being of all of our researchers and students
- To develop each lab member to become a true scientist
- To maintain a positive and intellectually-stimulating environment
- To study rigorously what excites us
- To serve the community.
- To maintain a critical outlook.
Work hard but…
- Know yourself so you can have optimal performance while caring for your wellbeing.
- Work hard and get enough sleep, good food, exercise, and positive social interactions.
- If the academic environment is pushing you towards burnout, let’s start an open conversation to change
What you can expect from me as a mentor
- I will set the scientific direction for the lab and provide the means to pursue those directions. This will include helping you to find a research topic, writing grants to fund the research, and making sure the laboratory is running. Additionally, I will seek out collaborators for our work to further your opportunities.
- I am committed to mentoring you now and in the future. I am committed to your education and training while in my lab, and to advising and guiding your career development. I will work together with you to find appropriate ways to promote you and your work.
- I will encourage you to attend scientific meetings and make an effort to fund these activities. These meetings are important to showcase your work and for the networking opportunities as you pursue positions after your time in our lab ends. I believe one scientific meeting per year is necessary, but I also believe that more than 2 scientific meeting per year can take too much time away from research. I am open to discuss if you think you need to attend more than 2 meetings in a year.
- I will be available for regular meetings and will provide timely review of research. In addition, I will do my best to provide an open-door policy and respond quickly to e-mails. Please be aware that there will be times when I will be unavailable due to other obligations. I will try to keep in the google calendar the updates of the times when I am too busy. For abstracts, small data questions and application letters, I will generally be able to review in 1-2 days. For papers and thesis, I will need 1-2 weeks. In the event of a lab emergency, I may be contacted on my cell phone.
- I will provide a work environment that is intellectually stimulating, supportive, safe, and free from harassment. I take seriously any difficulties you experience in relationship to this statement – if there are conflicts with another lab member, please inform me and I will work with you and the other lab member to find a resolution. I will strive to understand your unique situation and am open to your suggestions on how to improve your experience in the lab.
Your values define you
- Be honest
- Be generous
- Be resilient
- Be kind
- Be rigiourous
What I expect from you
- You will take ownership of your educational experience
- You will need to determine the requirements for your individual research program and are responsible for ensuring that you are in compliance. As you progress, I will work with you to select courses, plan seminars, discuss yearly individual student plans, plan half time evaluation, and find opponent and committee members.
- You will keep me updated on your research progress and challenges. We won’t have mandatory time for individual meetings because I don’t want you to feel pressured to present results weekly. However, we should meet at least every 2 weeks, but if you need to talk twice a week, we can do that as well. I want to hear about challenges once they present themselves, not after they are solved.
- To progress in your professional development, you must transition towards independence. I will be closer scientifically when you start your work in the group, and expect you to gradually become scientifically independent. Consider that scientific independence does not mean you have to do everything in your research, instead it means that you can recognize and appreciate collaborations in your work. Scientific independence means you can design and evaluate your project and discuss it with peers to take constructive criticism.
- You must seek out professional development opportunities. Being a successful scientist involves more than being good at the bench. You must communicate well (presentations, articles, grants), develop personal skills (lab management, mentoring), maintain high ethical standards, and for a faculty career, you also need to have teaching experience. For MS and PhD students these opportunities must be balanced with the most important element of your career development – research progress towards your thesis. There are job opportunities outside academia and we can look together into opportunities to test those options.
- Begin reading the scientific literature. Read the articles suggested in the Miint folder. Morever, run a literature search and read articles suggested by this search. Spend some time each week updating your literature and just browsing literature. Subscribe to relevant sources of scientific literature and/or follow relevant accounts in Twitter. Be aware that there is more scientific literature available that one can read so be sure to learn to browse, skim and read the articles that are relevant. We can talk more about the topic if you need help.
- Learn how to plan your experiments so that they help you progress on the overall goal of your project. Make sure your experiments address the question of interest correctly – this includes learning how to do the appropriate controls, techniques, etc. You will also need to learn how to effectively plan and multi-task to prevent down times. Develop plans with short/medium/long-term goals.
- Keep detailed lab notebooks and e-notebooks– these are essential to turn your hard work into a finished article or thesis. Your notes should allow your work to be reproduced (meaning they must be understandable by people other than yourself) and will help to assign credit for authorship. They are required by funding agencies and for any potential patents. An e-notebook is mandatory and it should be kept on your computer and backed up in the University servers or hard drives and must be kept up to date. E-notebooks will be written using common text processing tools and each file should start the name with YYMMDD and followed by description of the file. When you get a file from a colleague to comment, do not change the title your colleague has given to the file, just add your initials at the end. If the file is updated at a later time, a new file must be created with the new date, so that the previous file stays intact. Please also keep notes of your codes and bioinformatic workflows. Relevant presentations will also be archived in a lab e-folder so please send all your final presentations to me for archiving. Finally, you are required to leave the e-notebook behind when you leave the lab for others to build upon your work.
- Develop your writing and presentation skills. As you start to make progress, begin outlining an article’s figures and drafting the text. One excellent guide is “Writing science” by Joshua Schimel. Be prepared to go through rounds of revisions before submitting an abstract or article. Although the availability of travel funds will vary, I encourage you to submit your work for presentation at one conference per year. Attend relevant seminars – I suggest 2 per month to learn both science and how to give a good talk.
- Develop your mentoring and management skills. Mentoring undergraduate and graduate researchers not only helps you achieve your experimental goals, but also provides an opportunity to further your professional development as a supervisor. As the direct supervisor of an undergraduate student, you will be expected to train them appropriately, provide them with experimental guidance, and ensure that they operate in a safe and respectful manner in the lab.
- Consider applying for fellowships, traineeships, and travel grants. Not only will an award help your career and the overall lab funding situation, the experience of writing the proposal will help you think about what you are doing more deeply.
- Learn how to accept and utilize constructive criticism. The feedback from me, colleagues, committee members, and course instructors is intended to improve your work.
- You will contribute to the lab and be a good lab citizen
- Senior lab members are responsible for helping to train new students in the ways of the world (i.e. lab procedures, how individual/group meetings work, literature searching, etc.). Science is a community – many people will help you along the way and you should return the favor. Share your insider knowledge of techniques with others.
- Data belongs to the lab, not to any one individual – you are expected to leave all your e-notebooks and files when you leave the lab. This protects the individual from being taken away from data the individual helped produce, but it also protects the lab from data being taken away. For authorship find information below. In addition, there will be times when you will be asked to assist me in submitting grant applications. This activity is essential to provide continuing support for the lab.
- You will have designated lab jobs such as general maintenance, taking care of one of the instruments, teaching, etc. Everyone is expected to help with dishes, making sure that supplies do not run out, aliquoting, reporting problems with equipment to the person in charge, and general lab cleanliness.
- You will work safely in the lab. Before beginning in the lab you must complete safety training and will be expected to renew that training as needed. You will follow all safety procedures defined in our lab protocols and immediately communicate any safety concerns to me or to safety administrator.
- You will keep lab protocols up-to-date on the main e-folder.
- When working in the labs of other investigators, be polite, neat, and gracious. Always follow their rules. If something breaks during your use, report it immediately to me and to the appropriate person.
- Be respectful, tolerant of, and work collegially with laboratory colleagues: respect individual differences in values, personalities, and work styles.
Break the perfectionism and hedonic treadmill (by drjenofficial)
- Celebrate your wins
- Learn to enjoy
- Learn to relax
I do not believe in tracking hours – instead, I am interested to see that you are productive and happy. However, if I sense that this is being taken advantage of, the situation will be addressed. You will quickly recognise that biology is not a 9-5 proposition, but I believe that to be productive, appropriate rest is essential. Finding the right balance is not an easy task. I do not expect you to work more than 40 hours a week. It is important to keep to safety rule of not working alone in the lab or in the field, that is if you have to work after office hours you have to make sure to have a person aware and checking on you.
There is no rule about when emails can be sent, but do not worry, emails do not need to be answered immediately, just answer during your work hours.
For quick and important communication, we will keep the group whatsapp, but this group is limited to information that does not require people to work after reading the information. For the whatsapp group, contribute and read mindfully, but there is not need to read or react all the time.
About holidays, Swedish and German law gives at least 28 days of holidays a year. Most people in Sweden take these holidays in the months between June and August. I ask that you discuss with me at least 4 weeks before a longer than a week planned absence – this way we can have ample time to prepare for if there are grant or other deadlines during that period. I expect you to satisfactorily complete all assigned research duties prior to your planned departure. You are responsible for signing up for your holidays in the burocraticly correct way. If you have big experiments planned for when most people take holidays, we need to make sure that there is at least somebody around to have appropriate lab safety.
To individual meetings please come prepared to discuss/present your recent research and next steps. Each meeting where we discuss data and research ideas will need to keep a record the main outcomes of the meetings.
There will be mandatory group meeting on an almost weekly base. The topics of those meetings are open to individual project discussions, journal clubs, practicing talks and poster presentations, and general scientific community discussions. We will keep records of relevant group meetings in e-documents.
Each year we will have individual evaluations and group evaluation – this will help us to determine things that are going well or areas for improvement. I will share with you my thoughts about your progress on individual meetings and I will help identify steps you can take to fix any concerns. This is also an opportunity for you to communicate to me what I can do to help you succeed. Tell me if you feel that you need more guidance, more independence, to meet more often, etc.
Group yearly meetings will take place in once a year and will probably take a whole day. We will have group discussions and also individual short presentations on short- and long-term plans.
Individual yearly meetings take place the month you join the group every year you are part of it.
One of the most important tasks in science is disseminating your research through publications and presentations; therefore, authorship on these items is an important indicator to the outside world of your role. Authorship implies a contribution to an article such as intellectual ideas that change the research or experimental contributions (just following instructions and not actively participating in the experimental design/interpretation will be acknowledged, but likely would not result in an authorship). While the order of authors varies by specific field, in general for microbial ecology the first author is the student/post-doc who took the lead and wrote the article, the last author is the PI who guides and gives regular feedback, and the authors in between are in order of decreasing contribution. Declining to complete articles before leaving the lab may result in a junior member doing so as the 1st shared author or 1st author in your place depending on how much work is left to do. For more information on what I believe on authorship you can consult the table
If a conflict arises with another lab member during your time in the lab, I will work with you to find a resolution. If after my intervention, the conflict is still not resolved, we will consult with the Department Chair, Chair of your graduate program, or the university office to attempt to settle the disagreement.