Postdoctoral Associate Expectations
This complements the common and other guidelines. Suggestions and input are welcome.
What I expect from you
You will take ownership of your training experience
- You will keep me updated on your research progress and challenges.
- Seek out professional development opportunities – being a successful scientist involves more than being good at the bench. You must communicate well (presentations, papers, grants), develop personal skills (lab management, mentoring), maintain high ethical standards, and for a faculty career, teach. However, these opportunities must be balanced with the most important element of your career development – research progress. I am here to help with all these aspects of your development.
You will develop your personal research skills
- Keep up to date with the scientific literature: Read the papers I suggest. Spend some time each week updating your literature and just browsing. Subscribe to relevant eTOCs.
- Learn how to plan your experiments so that they help you progress on the overall goal of your project. Make sure your experiments address the question of interest correctly – this includes learning how to do the appropriate controls, techniques, etc. You will also need to learn how to effectively plan and multi-task to prevent down times. Develop plans with short/medium/long-term goals.
- Develop your writing and presentation skills. As you start to make progress, begin outlining a paper’s figures and drafting the text. Be prepared to go through rounds of revisions before submitting an abstract or paper. Although the availability of travel funds will vary, I encourage you to submit your work for presentation at least at one conference per year. Attend relevant seminars.
- Consider applying for fellowships, traineeships, and travel grants. Not only will an award help your career and the overall lab funding, the experience of writing the proposal will help you think about what you are doing more deeply.
- Learn how to accept and utilize constructive criticism. Feedback from me, colleagues, committee members, and course instructors is intended to improve your work.
You will contribute to the lab and be a good lab citizen
- Senior personnel are responsible for helping to train new lab members in the ways of the world (e.g. lab procedures, how individual/group meetings work, literature searches). Science is a community - many people will help you along the way and you should return the favor. Share your insider knowledge of techniques with others. As a post-doc, it is expected that you will take a leading role in this training – this is a wonderful time to refine your mentoring style for your future roles.
- You will have designated lab jobs such as ordering, general maintenance, taking care of one of the instruments, etc. Failure to do your lab jobs not only affects you, it can impede the entire lab and will not be tolerated. Everyone is expected to help with dishes, making sure that supplies do not run out, reporting problems with equipment to the person in charge, aliquotting, and general lab cleanliness.
Adapted from documents by Pam Kreeger.