The Student/Supervisor Relationship

Getting on with your supervisor and fitting into your lab makes the difference between barely tolerating your research and having an enjoyable time. When choosing a leb in which to do your PhD, there are many impostant factors to consider.

You should feel that your visit to the laboratory is an opportunity to look at the environment you may be asked to work in and decide whether or not it agrees with you. You are not here just to be scrutinised - you should do some scrutinising, too! This means not only talking to your supervisor, but also anyone else with whom you might be working. Make the most of your visit and question your supervisor about lab practices - for example, how often is he/she absent from the lab on conferences or meetings? does he/she do work at the bench? are there regular formal/informal group meetings or assessments? Labs at the LMB are quite small, so at most, you'll only be competing with a couple of other students for the boss's attention. This means that your relationship with your supervisor is vital, so it's important to choose carefully.

It's also important to talk to your potential lab-mates. They're often the best ones to answer the questions you were too polite to ask your supervisor during your interview - what are your supervisor's quirks (we all gave them!). How many hours will you be expected to work? Will you be yelled at for making mistakes (and we all make them!)? What are the social dynamics of the group? You should make sure you have a good feeling for the atmosphere of the lab before signing on for three-plus years of work there!