Ok, just kidding – of course I haven’t stopped worrying – but it’s been just over a year since I started here, and things are starting to feel like they are on track. The timeline here in Wisconsin looked something like this:
Winter and spring 2016 – getting the lab set up, writing grants, recruiting students, ON Allen professorship awarded
Winter 2017 – I start teaching two courses, join the Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence program, and Tim – our new postdoc on the DOE grant – joins the lab
I really appreciated the flexible timing that I was able to have, where I could sort of add one new thing at a time (e.g., students not starting until the lab was somewhat ship-shape, and not starting teaching until now – it basically takes all my time these days). I’m quite pleased with how the lab operations – two key (free) tools we use are Quartzy for our ordering and inventory management, and Asana for project management and some lab communications. We use LabArchives electronic lab notebook software that is provided through the university, but lab members can also use physical notebooks. Finally, we keep all our lab resources (data, proposals, protocols) integrated through our university’s Box account, which works really well. We can choose what to sync and what not to sync to our own computers, with one lab computer syncing everything and backing it up regularly through our department, in addition to Box’s archiving. It took me a long time to figure our all the various options, trying to balance having too many tools with having the right tool for the job. For example, we thought about Slack, but much of what’s achieved there could be done using Asana, which fulfils other purposes as well. This approach is feeling pretty good right now, but we’ll keep seeing what works, and making adjustments as we go.
Exciting projects coming up for this year include submitting proposals to the internal UW Microbiome Initiative, which has $1M in funding for microbiome research on campus, probably submitting my first attempt at an NSF CAREER award, hopefully adding a couple more members to the lab, and starting to produce our first papers from in-lab research. Looking forward to the rest of 2017!
The lab up at Coon Forks during a prescribed burn – thanks to Eau Claire and the WI DNR for letting us sample for Christina’s research!