Thursday, January 10, 2013

Notes from the Lab: Introduction to MineralPhys Research Group

Yesterday started out well, with my recent PhD student’s paper accepted. We celebrated with cookies at group meeting, though a bottle of wine is also in order. The publications are some of our most important products, and they take a lot of work, so I believe in celebrating them at all stages: first draft, submission, return of reviews, resubmission (repeat as necessary), acceptance (big celebration!) and published.

My research group consists of about five people right now. This number is a little bit fuzzy because some have other primary advisors, but also work closely with me and come to group meetings. It took my first five years to build the group to this level; and it has been relatively stable for the past five years, with the complexion of the group evolving as people rotate in and out. I try to foster an intellectually stimulating and supportive environment. We all do experimental mineral physics, but each has a different focus. I like that each group member has plenty of intellectual space, but one of the tradeoffs is that it can be intellectually lonely for people who prefer to work in collaborative mode. I like that we do not compete within the group, but we do work together especially on intensive synchrotron-based studies. There are lots of different things going on so we all learn from each other, and I can also keep close to everyone’s work. My expectation is that everyone (including me) publishes at least one first-authored paper each year on average.

This week is the start of our winter quarter, and I spent all yesterday in one-on-one meetings with everyone in the lab, assessing projects, and setting goals for the next few months. Over the next few weeks I’ll write more about the projects we’re working on and the joys and frustrations of the lab. 

If you have questions about how our lab runs, please feel free to ask in the comments section or tweet them to @mineralphys.

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