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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

Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
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.
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
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Rice university’s nsf advance program’s negotiating the ideal faculty position workshop master collection of presentations. OpenStax CNX. Mar 08, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11413/1.1
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