The overarching goal of the Mattis Lab is to meaningfully advance the field of epilepsy. We can achieve this by focusing on the following, in parallel:
- Science – To make an impact now, we must design our experiments to produce high quality, high impact data. We must clearly communicate this data to the scientific community.
- Community – To make an impact in the future, we must train and mentor the next generation of scientists in the field. The scientific community is enriched by diversity, and our lab will recruit and promote talented trainees from all backgrounds. We must thus maintain a culture of collaboration, rigor, respect, and inclusivity in the lab.
- Safety and wellness: A lab can only function if its members are safe and well, both physically and mentally. This means adhering to safety codes, completing all required training, and avoiding potentially dangerous situations. This also means treating one another with kindness, respecting boundaries, and helping one another.
- Professional conduct and integrity: Mistakes are expected. Honesty is required. Unexpected results may yield new hypotheses: don’t disregard something just because it doesn’t fit the existing model. Keep careful records so that experiments can be replicated. Be a team player and leave equipment in good shape, and supplies stocked, for the next person who needs it.
- Work hours and work ethic: Sometimes longer hours are required to achieve specific goals: a critical experiment, or a looming grant deadline, may require working weekends and/or evenings. But these periods of more intense effort can be balanced with flexible time off: on a day with a lighter to do list there is no need to sit in the lab to wait out the clock, and you may also choose to plan time off as needed to take care of yourself, prioritize other important things in your life, and avoid burnout. Overall, working efficiently and strategically is much more important (and sustainable) than working long hours. It is also harder to do! If you feel that your personal input/output ratio is sub-optimal, ask for advice.
- Grants and funding: All lab members should apply to grants for which they are eligible. For lab members with a long-term interest in academia, grant-writing is an essential skill. For lab members with different career goals, grant-writing is still valuable, as it forces you to organize and clearly communicate your scientific ideas. Obtaining independent funding will enhance your CV and will increase your scientific freedom.
- Authorship and collaboration: Authorship should be discussed early and often: a surprise at the end of a project means a failure of communication earlier on. Co-first authorship is sometimes appropriate but must be planned in advance. Collaborating (when done well) can make science more fun, faster, and better. For the first author, recruiting others to join you can accelerate and elevate your project, and leading a team is an important learning opportunity. For co-authors, joining a team can allow you to accrue more publications, and to expand your expertise. Collaborations within the lab can develop organically but please keep me posted so that I can ensure they are in everyone’s best interest. Collaborations across labs are fantastic but should be discussed with me (and the other PIs) first.
- Group meetings: We have regular lab meetings, including data presentations and journal clubs. If you are presenting, prepare your talk with adequate polish to facilitate feedback and discussion. (For example, if your audience can’t understand what the axes on a graph represent, they won’t be able to direct their efforts to the actual results.) If you are in the audience, be an active listener and participate in discussion.
- One-on-one meetings: I meet individually with each lab member on a regular basis (typically once a week), and as needed. Please prepare in advance for these meetings so that we can make the best use of the time. If minor or non-urgent questions come up over the course of the week, keep track of them so that we can address them during the meeting. However, if something is urgent, don’t wait until the next scheduled meeting! I never want to be the limiting factor in your progress.