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Keynote talk presented by Jane Grande-Allen at the 2011 NSF ADVANCE Workshop: Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position, A Workshop for Underrepresented PhDs and Postdocs in Science, Engineering and Psychology September 18-20, 2010

General thoughts

  • The goal of your research program is to gain tenure and to establish a strong repuation
    • Do the things that support this goal
    • Do NOT do things that interfere with this goal
  • How you set up your research group will follow you and will help determine your success
  • Worry about results, funding, and people!

Research group elements

  • People
    • Undergraduates
    • Graduate students
    • Postdocs
    • Technical support staff
  • Space
    • Place for people, equipment, materials and supplies

Motivating your group

  • Find students who will work hard
  • Find ways to avoid or dismiss students who will not work hard or are disruptive or dishonest
  • Support your students and ensure their own learning process
    • Provide guidance
    • Provide feedback on their work and on their writing


  • Technical staff
    • Have clear job description
    • Ask a colleague to help in interviews
    • Are technical staff the best use of resources?
  • Postdocs
    • Does department have prejudice for/against postdocs? Favor graduate students?
    • How difficult is it to recruit postdocs?
    • Are there university resources for postdocs?
  • Graduate Students
    • What are departmental expectations for number of graduate students per year?
    • Will the graduate students also be expected to be TAs?
    • What are the processes for evaluation and advancement to candidacy for graduate students?
  • Undergraduate research students
    • How many can you reasonably manage?
    • What are the departmental expectations for undergraduate research mentoring?
    • How do you strike the balance?
    • Using graduate students/postdocs as in-lab mentors for undergraduates can be a very successful strategy

Keeping up

  • Have regular meetings with each member of your laboratory
    • Be aware of what they are doing
    • If they need assistance, figure out the best way to guide them forward
  • Have lab members write regular reports that can form the basis for publications
    • Use an outline to plan publication
    • Sketch figures/tables
    • Easy way to see what they are thinking and provide feedback

Personnel management

  • Establish a positive “lab culture”
  • Have regular lab meetings to discuss research and look at papers in your area
  • Be proactive in addressing personnel conflicts (or potential conflicts)
    • Get help if you need it
    • No one wants a caustic/poisonous lab environment
  • Lead by example

Create clear expectations

  • Consider a “compact” document that outlines your expectations that you review with students and that they sign
    • Include information on backups for data/computers, books, chemicals, code, coursework, FAX use, funding, human subjects, lab duties, lab safety officer, new member orientation, use of equipment, website
  • Provide clear guidance on
    • Lab notebooks
    • Literature coverage (shared in lab meetings)
    • Attendance at meetings
    • General comportment
    • Publications
      • Orders of authors/responsibilities
    • Engagement in manuscript review/grant review
  • Safety issues and procedures
  • Security of the lab and its people
  • Software policies
  • Travel expectations
    • How often/who will fund/who must present
  • Vacations
  • Progress reports
  • Work hours

Recruiting graduate students

  • Volunteer to serve on the admissions committee
  • Teach classes geared for graduate students
  • Mentor graduate students as they enter the department

Non-experimental space

  • Be sure that your office is placed in the relationship you desire with respect to your group members
    • Some like it close
    • Some like it far away
  • Arrange your office to support your style of working
  • Embrace your independence
    • From your mentors/advisors
  • In some disciplines, the work you are judged on is independent of your group’s work!

Physical space

  • Moving into existing space
    • Proximity to colleagues
    • Access to department/university equipment
    • Proper utilities for equipment
      • Electrical, air, vacuum, water
    • Hoods
      • Chemical, tissue culture
    • Air handling
      • Vibration issues, flow issues, etc.
    • Office space for students/postdocs
      • Separate or within lab?
  • Rennovating space
    • Negotiate for a tenure clock extension, if your delay is>4-6 months
    • Same issues apply as for existing space, but you have some choices!
    • Think carefully about what you need for your work
      • Electrical, clean power, ventilation, hoods, plumbing, chilled water, air flow from the HVAC system, everything
    • Do careful research about what you need
      • Contact vendors for equipment specifications and problems identified at other institutions
      • Ask colleagues about problems encountered at your institution
    • Learn from others about renovations
    • Work with the architects/contractor to get your project within the assigned cost range
    • Be actively involved in every state of the process – follow process regularly
    • Ensure that what you need in being taken into account, especially completion date
    • Be prepared for delays
      • Write grants or papers, prepare for teaching
  • Organize how you will move in
  • Think about what you will do and in what order
  • Ask for space to work temporarily if there are things that can get you going
  • Take the time to engage your colleagues and learn more about the department


  • Seek possible discounts
  • Negotiate with multiple vendors for the best price
  • Allow sufficient lead time for items that are complex (1-6 months for large equipment)


  • Talk with multiple vendors (bulk discounts from some with large orders)
  • Package as much as possible with each individual vendor for best price
  • Consider larger quantities of items that “keep” and that you know you will need
    • Biggest discount you’ll ever get!
    • Think about storage strategies

Continually think

  • Keep reflecting how things are working (arrangement of space, interactions among lab members)
  • Take steps to make changes that would make a difference
  • Be sure to think about your joy in the work and the ways you can inspire your team!

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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