Seeking input on the role of IT in the lab

I am gathering some informal background information from lab professionals for a Lab Manager magazine article on how to best interact with IT folks to improve laboratory operations and systems. Here’s a few questions that I am looking to get some input on:

  • How much do you interact with your own internal IT  department and in what ways?
  • Does the IT department mostly help out with office and communication tools vs. technical (lab-related) software applications and issues?
  • Do you rely on other people (e.g., equipment supplier/vendor, other staff, yourself) to help with the technical applications?
  • Are there ways to work and communicate effectively with IT departments for laboratory needs?
  • What skills do lab professionals need to be successful in an increasingly digital lab environment?

Please feel free to comment below by March 15, 2017, with any thoughts and advice. Include your name, title and institution if it’s okay to include any quotes from you in the article. You can also contact me privately to share this information. Any input is much appreciated.

Leave No Trace Citizen Science Project

lnt_citizensciencelogoCalling all citizen scientists! The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics needs your help to track where Leave No Trace information (including signage, materials and workshops) is shared on public lands. This information will be used to identify where more messaging is needed to educate people on how to recreate with minimal impacts to the environment. If you’re headed out to your favorite recreational destination, be on the look out for Leave No Trace materials, snap a pic and submit observations on the project website at

Call for abstracts: Citizen Science Association Conference 2017

The Citizen Science Association is now accepting abstracts for its CSA2017 conference to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from May 17–20, 2017. Proposals are being accepted in each of four categories: 1) Project Slam Lightning Talk; 2) Table a citizen-science project at the public citizen-science festival; 3) Organized Symposium; and 4) Individual Presentation (talks and posters). The conference is focused on the practice of citizen science, and thus conference organizers are seeking projects that share best practices and success stories on how to plan, organize and conduct citizen science, rather than sharing discipline-specific scientific results from projects. You can submit abstracts online through October 10, 2016, or sign up to be an abstract reviewer.

Resources for scientists: manuscript editing services


Image credit: Vmenkov

In today’s “publish-or-perish” environment, scientists are often judged and hiring decisions based primarily on a lengthy publication record in high-quality journals. While there is a growing movement toward alternative metrics (i.e., measures of research impact in the mainstream), the reality is that publication records are still used as a primary indicator of research productivity, especially among hiring committees.

So what do you do if your writing skills are less than stellar or you are a non-native English speaker? One solution is to enlist the services of a manuscript editing company. These companies are experienced with editing scientific manuscripts across multiple disciplines, offer quick turnaround service and employ editors who are technically trained in your field. Services typically range from language editing on up to peer review with specific fee structures based on word count and complexity of the editing service.

While it may be an initial hurdle to pay for such services, in the end it leads to a more polished manuscript and increases the chances of publication because journal reviewers can focus their time on content and not deciphering language. Another great benefit of using these services is that the editors are trained to leave comments about common errors seen in the paper (instead of just making the changes for you), and thus the author can learn how to improve upon their writing skills for the future.

Here are a few manuscript editing companies that have been recommended to me in the past. I don’t endorse any of these companies but encourage you to check out their websites to compare pricing structures, learn more about the editing process and assess their expertise. These companies may also offer free tools (e.g., journal selector) to the public.

If cost is a factor, be sure to check with your PI or department as they may be willing to pay for such services for their students or postdocs. You can also check around your department to see if any colleagues moonlight as an editor or know of any independent editors that they would recommend. Additionally university writing centers may provide assistance with review of manuscripts or offer writing workshops.



Maximizing Your Conference and Seminar Spend


Image credit: Lab Manager magazine

My latest article “Maximizing Your Conference and Seminar Spend” in the September 2016 issue of Lab Manager magazine is now available online. This article overviews ways that companies can maximize their return on investment from attending conferences and also includes ideas on increasing the accessibility of conferences for lab professionals through creative funding avenues and the availability of online conferences.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Conferences—from scientific meetings and trade shows to educational training events focused on specific skills like lab management—are at the core of scientific innovation. These venues provide lab managers with key opportunities to showcase their work, build future collaborations, and develop essential skills to enhance research capacity. Yet when organizations are forced to reduce operating budgets, travel and conferences for lab personnel and other support teams are often the first line items to be cut.

However, there are ways to maximize the return on investment to make conferences more cost-effective, including selecting conferences that are in line with business and professional goals and taking a proactive approach to sharing new information and skills learned with team members back at the lab. Additionally, the increasing availability of online conference platforms eliminates conference expenses and the need to even leave the lab, improving accessibility to create a more diverse and connected research community.