10 Do's of Starting Your First Independent Lab

Remember reminder

Remember reminder

DO...1.  Organize, strategize and prioritize.  From the moment you receive the wonderful news that you have been offered a tenure-track position, immediately start planning essential steps towards wrapping up your fellowship, moving to your new location and establishing your lab and research project.  Use BioData’s helpful New Lab Checklist and accompanying interactive planning worksheet, along with our revolutionary online management system to start your lab on a structured course and keep it that way!

2.  Promote yourself and your research!  The tools of the digital age—including a lab website, social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and video services—allow you to publicize your laboratory, research, and connect with colleagues around the world.

3.  Make good connections among your new colleagues. They can help you write better grants, do better experiments and navigate your institutional bureaucracy.

4.  Make your first hire or two really count. Hopefully you can hire at least one really good lab technician in the beginning. This person should be able to accomplish two things for you.  First, they can continue feeding you data to mitigate the fact that you're not at the bench as much anymore.  Second, they can help establish your lab culture and procedures.  Putting time and effort into finding someone who will do a great job is worth it.

5.  Apply for additional funding right away.  A good chunk of your start-up money will go towards new equipment and other lab expenses.  Don’t wait to submit several grants, especially because a number of grant opportunities are available for new and young professors.

6.  Take advantage of new lab promotions.  Many companies offer discounts and specials on furniture, supplies and even reagent packages for professors starting their own labs.

7.  Conduct a lot of informational interviews with everyone as soon as you arrive on campus:  Approach colleagues, prospective graduate and undergraduate students, collaborators and potential hires.  This will help you build your staff, choose students carefully, and most importantly, absorb as much information as possible from those who have already successfully established their labs.

8.  Take care of yourself.  The duties expected of a young professor, the enormous pressure of managing a new lab and staff, and the stress of moving to a new city can easily take their toll on you mentally and physically.  Take advantage of your campus gym, stay active and don't forget to eat properly.

9.  Stay in touch with all of your old labmates, mentors, collaborators and colleagues.  They are an important support system and source of advice in your new venture, especially if you are carrying over any of your old projects or experiments.

10.  Enforce good note-booking and record-keeping practices in your laboratory from the beginning.  Labguru’s web-based lab management system can easily help you manage your budding specimen and reagent collection, establish good record-keeping within the group from the start, and produce smart, efficient, groundbreaking science.