“Science is better and faster when shared among open-minded peers, in a safe and enjoyable environment”
We work really hard to build a close-knit team with a stimulating atmosphere. We want our lab members to feel safe to exchange honest and constructive feedback. To that end, we cultivate trust, brainstorming and an open mentality.
Team member’s contribution:
Our lab is intentionally small, so each individual has the ability to have a major impact. We believe that achievements, small or big, deserve to be rewarded, and we do our best to champion everyone, their ideas, their contributions and their personal accomplishments.
Informal meetings, discussions and project check-ups:
I meet personally with each student, in an informal way, on a (nearly) daily basis to check on the advancement of their experiments and projects, discuss papers and ideas, set new goals, brainstorm thought-provoking ideas, and/or troubleshoot issues that may have arisen. We also meet informally to debrief department talks or seminars relevant to our research or teaching goals.
Formal Lab Meetings:
Our Lab meetings (120min) occur every other Friday and consist of a round-table (60min) and a data/paper presentation (60min). In the former, every lab member is given 5-10min to share any matter they wish to discuss with the rest of the lab, while the presentation meetings consist of one lab member presenting the advancement of their project or a publication of interest.
Our lab meetings alternate weekly with one-on-one meetings during which Dr. Papouin meets individually with each lab member for 60min, uninterrupted. This is quite informal and offers an excellent setting to discuss data in depth, and define future plans and directions.
Bite-size-Bios (formally, Take-a-PI-to-Lunch):
Once a month, our team shares an informal breakfast with a WashU faculty member, featuring tea, coffee and French-quality pastries! This is a unique and casual opportunity to hear about their personal and professional history, how they came to science, encounters they made that shaped their career, the ideas they are pursuing, and many fascinating details of their journey through science. Several of our past guest are now pillars of our lab’s ongoing collaborations and/or members of our student’s thesis mentoring committee.
Non-Academic Career series (NACs):
This is the flip side of Bite-size-Bios. These similarly-structured informal meetings feature a guest who transitioned out of academia after earning their PhD, doing a postdoc, or running their own lab, to start a career in venture capitalism, science policy, medical device design, regulatory affairs, industry, science journalism and more. We learn about what their job entails, the skillsets they require, how most skills learned in academia are highly transferable, but also some of the reasons they may have chosen this path over a career in academia, as well as tips on how to land a job outside of academia. Per student’s request and initiative, we will soon create a Podcast from these events, so to share with a broader audience the little nuggets of knowledge that we take away from these inspiring meetings.
Our lab holds a yearly summer retreat in a pleasant setting and location, with ample space for relaxation, inspiration, conviviality, and friendly chats. It features brain-teases and small exercises to practice communicating our science without any form of material. In advance of the retreat, one person is in charge of writing a ~5 page memo covering the advancement of all projects in the lab. TJP also gives a rapid state-of-the-lab address. And, most important of all, this is when individual awards are handed out during the now legendary Papouinie-award ceremony! Owing to its huge success, there currently are discussions of making this a bi-annual event… stay tuned!