Research Group Management in the Biological Sciences

Professional development for postdoctoral scientists and senior graduate students

This CBS professional development course is aimed at postdoctoral scientists and senior graduate students who envision transitioning to a project or group leadership position in academia, industry, or government research. The course will introduce principle areas where advanced planning and knowledge will facilitate a smooth transition to leadership, including best experimental and data tracking practices, managing finances, mentor-mentee relationships, collaborations, and managing field work. A guest lecturer will address differences in managing a research group outside of academia. 


The course will be offered in the second 7-week session of the spring semester following spring break. Class will meet once a week (Monday, 3:45-5:30pm timeslot, Gortner Lab 239). Format is lecture, small group discussions, exercises, and role-play.

When: Mondays, March 20 - May 1, 2017
Time: 3:45-5:30 p.m.
Where: Gortner Lab 239, St. Paul Campus


Dr. Carrie Wilmot, and Dr. Jennifer Powers,

REGISTRATION IS FREE. Click here to register.


March 20: Creating a lab culture: Creating a “safe” environment (safety in the lab, creating an inclusion environment, co-worker respect); Promoting lab member interactions; Clearly defining expectations; Lab meeting structures (project, whole lab); Individual development plans; Time management.

March 27: Best experimental and data tracking practices: Experimental training (who will conduct it, lab protocols, rigorous experimental design; reproducibility); Notebooks (physical vs. electronic, organizing data); Use of shared computer server space (organization, data protection, storage and data back-up); Data management plan (grant applications).

April 3: Managing finances: Understanding personnel costs; Funding sources (institutions, federal and state bodies, charities); Fund restrictions and budget justifications (personnel, equipment, conferences etc); Understanding indirect costs; Equipment grants (matching funds, multiple users).

April 10: Mentor-Mentee relationships: Creating a supportive environment; Recruitment; Professional distance; Team building; Conflict resolution; Developing independence from your mentor; Exercise: Role-playing different Mentor-Mentee scenarios. What would you have your first lab member work on?

April 17: Scientific collaborations: Finding collaborators (internal, external [scientific literature, scientific conferences]); Collaboration requests (do you have the interest, expertise and man-power?); Defining collaboration goals and roles; Meetings with collaborators (physical, virtual, e.g. skype); Authorship.

April 24: Managing field-work: Logistics; Research permits; Local (on-site) collaborators; Data recording and tracking; Collecting and shipping samples; Emergencies.

May 1: (Guest presenter from BioTechne): Managing a project group or lab outside of academia.