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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

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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