Because my lab is just about to start functioning here at PSU, I reread the AAAS booklet “Running Your Lab” just to see if I had forgotten something from the last time I started a lab. There were a few tips in the book that were good reminders especially because I am going from a lab run mainly with undergraduate students to one that will have a variety of researchers at different places in their careers. The AAAS career site (http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/tools_tips/outreach/booklets) has a number of useful titles. “Step by Step: Your Career from Undergrad to Postdoc,” is the title that introduced me to this series. Not only is the cover hip (a scientist climbing a DNA career ladder) but it is filled with useful tips. This is a good place to start though no single topic is covered in great depth. The “At the Helm”/”At the Bench” series by Kathy Barker (available at the P&P library) are better resources for in depth recommendations for being productive researchers and lab leaders. I always asked my undergraduate students to read “At the Bench” when they started in my lab. The section called “getting oriented” was an especially good introduction for them and all of us could pay attention to the section “Survival through Common Sense and Courtesy”.
Self-mentorship or mentorship of others requires a regular dose of self reflection, strategic planning, and follow through. I am currently in the strategic planning phase for my lab. The end of the year is a good time for a little strategic planning and the promise of a winter break could spur us on to push toward a stellar finish to the year. So how do you want to finish this year? What is worthy of this 12th of your annual effort? Today is a good time to take some time for planning for your particular satisfying ending. I would be elated if my lab is sending out our first sets of DNA for sequencing as the year comes to an end and that requires planning now.
A wish you all a productive December!