My broad philosophy as a mentor is that there is no one mentorship style that works for everyone. Some people need structure and defined goals, others need the freedom to explore and fail. If you join my lab I will work with you to understand what sort of mentorship style will help you be productive, happy, and achieve your career goals. We will achieve this through regular meetings where we discuss not just your progress on the projects you are working on, but also how to develop the skills you need for the next phase of your career, and if we can create better workflows or lab practices to make the work more productive and fun. My goal is to help you become a synthetic biologist that is passionate about the work we do and is eager to make a positive impact on society in a way that brings you joy.
The career paths that I am well suited to mentor you in are:
Academia - As a career academic I can teach you how to craft papers through both concise writing and making compelling figures, how to network and make connections to secure a postdoctoral position, how to design and manage multiple projects at once, and how to mentor students.
Industry - Having spent time as a senior scientist in the biotech sector I can teach you how to build the skills, both experimental and interpersonal, you need to flourish in that environment. Beyond my own experiences I can connect you with friends and colleagues that are leaders in the biotech sector in Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco. My experience working for Flagship Pioneering will also help me connect you with people in the venture capital space if you have entrepreneurial ambitions.
Science communication - I have had extensive experience in science communication, both through traditional mediums like public speaking, as well as through the creation of art to engage people with science. These experiences will let me teach you how to effectively communicate the science you do to lay audiences, and how to engage with people who are not already interested in science.
Graduate students trained in our group will be trained to design and execute research projects, train and manage groups of undergraduates to execute experiments, write well articulated papers, and communicate their work engagingly to lay audiences. While everyones journey through grad school is different, students in our group can expect a general trajectory. In the first year you will be given a structured project that aligns with your interests and has been funded. Over the course of this project you will develop experimental skills, a deep understanding of the background literature, and learn how to write a paper. The scope of this project will be such that it could be published by the end of the second year, and I will work with you to make this happen. After this, you will have the freedom, dependent on funding, to either build on this work or move in a new direction with the goal of publishing every 1.5 years. Over the course of this period you will perfect your experimental skills, further deepen you theoretical knowledge, and engage in training undergraduate and junior grad students. The length of your training will depend in part on your productivity, and in part on what your career goals are. If you are interested in academia, it generally takes 5 years to do enough science to get a good postdoctoral fellowship, whereas if your goal is industry, policy, or science communication, it will depend more on finishing your course work, developing skills, and making the connections you need to land your next job. Whatever your path, we will work together to develop the skills you need for the next step in your career throughout your training. The lab as a whole will engage in regular science communication activities to build skills in this area, which are essential for all scientists, no matter what your profession.
Postdoctoral fellows in our group will be trained to write grants and papers, mentor graduate and undergraduate students, manage the logistics of a research group, and communicate their work engagingly to lay audiences. While these skills are generally useful in both academia and industry, your training will focus on those aspects most relevant to your future career plans. When you join our group you will initially be given a funded project to support you over the course of its completion. If your goal is academia, over this time I will work with you to conceptualize and write a grant. You will be a co-investigator on this grant so that, if funded, you will either be able to take part of it with you to start your own group, or if you would rather remain in our group it would fund your promotion to a staff scientist. If your goal is industrial research, you will work with me to engage industrial partners to commercialize our science, and use this as a avenue to build a network that you can leverage in your second year to find a job. Finally if your goal is to be an entrepreneur, I will work with you to write an SBIR and engage venture capital backers in your second year to help you secure start-up for your company.
Undergraduate students in our group will be trained to read and critically review scientific literature, perform a range of experimental biology techniques, train and manage teams of people, and communicate science effectively and engagingly to the public. When you join the lab you will be assigned a mentor whose projects align with your interests. You will assist with their experimental work as part of a larger team of undergraduates, and once proficient in techniques, will help train and manage other undergraduates. This will give you skills useful for graduate school or a job in the biotech sector. In addition to your experimental work you will also attend regular lab meetings with your mentor and the undergraduates where you will present a paper you have critically reviewed to the group. This will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the field. As you progress you will eventually have the ability to take on an independent research project which your mentor will help you to take to completion with the eventual goal of either being a standalone publication or part of one of your mentors publications. You will also be able to participate in the regular science communication activities the group engages in.