Getting started in the lab: Penn bureaucracy
Here's a little help with some of the basics of getting started at Penn.
- The first step is to get a PennKey. This is required for a lot of Penn-related services, including getting your PennCard.
- The next step is to get a PennCard. This is required to get access to various facilities and services at Penn, including the lab itself. The easiest way to get the card is to go to card services, 150 Franklin Building on Walnut street.
- Once you have a PennCard, e-mail the card number to me and I will activate the card for access to the lab.
- Your PennCard will give you gym access, but only if you purchase a membership. I think the health insurance people will give you some sort of a discount if you go regularly, though. Note that the nearest gym is the Hutchinson Gymnasium, which is located across the street from the lab.
- Your PennKey will also enable you to access journals off campus through the library proxy service. One easy way to read a paper is to just type https://proxy.library.upenn.edu/login?url=%@, where %@ is the URL of the paper you are trying to access.
Getting started in the lab: Lab safety
The first step is to talk with me about the general safety practices within the lab. After that, you will have to register for some Penn safety courses, some of which you can take online and some of which you have to take in person. I will post some links about that soon.
A few key rules:
- Understand the chemicals you are working with and how to handle them.
- If you do not know how to handle a chemical, ASK!
- If you plan an experiment involving a new chemical or biological, let Arjun know.
Read Raj_Lab:Lab_Rules for other basic rules about working in the lab, both for safety and manners.
Getting started in the lab: Computing
Setting up accounts and software:
- We use Google for a lot of internal lab stuff, like sharing documents and protocols, etc., so a good first step is to create a Google account (if you already use Gmail, then no need to do anything, your Gmail account is sufficient). I use Gmail as my primary e-mail and set my Penn SEAS e-mail to forward to it.
- Send me your e-mail address and I will add you to the Google mailing list for the lab. We use this list for all lab-related announcements, events, discussion, etc. We also post information on there about the group meeting schedule. Here is the website.
- Once I have your Google account, I will share the lab calendars with you. These calendars contain useful information about lab events, microscope schedules and seminars.
- Zotero is an extremely useful reference management tool that lives in your browser as a FireFox extension. If you set up an account, I can share selected reference lists with you related to various projects in the lab.
- We use MATLAB for much of our data analysis. I am currently looking into the most cost effective way to obtain licenses--more soon.
- I use a piece of software called Remember the Milk for task management. It has really helped me stay organized, might be useful for you...
- I encourage everyone to set up a website for themselves. Website options include OpenWetWare or hosting on SEAS. Let me know once your site is up and I will link to it from the main lab website.
- Your PennKey will enable you to access journals off campus through the library proxy service. One easy way to read a paper is to just type https://proxy.library.upenn.edu/login?url=%@, where %@ is the URL of the paper you are trying to access.
Electronic organization of lab resources:
- Many organizational aspects of the lab are stored in a master Google account, including the calendar. I am not posting the account information here in the interest of security, but you can ask me or someone else in the lab and they will let you know the username and password.
- All primers and probe sets should be recorded within the appropriate Google document.
- All cell lines stored in the liquid nitrogen dewar should be recorded within the appropriate Google document as soon as they are placed in there (very hard to keep track of it afterwards!).
- Check the "Reagents and Chemicals" Google document before ordering new reagents and minor items to see what we ordered last time and how long ago we ordered it.
Life in the lab: Science
- One book I highly recommend is "At the Bench", which contains several nuggets of wisdom about working in a lab. We have a copy in the lab.
- Check out the Raj_Lab:Links for information about seminars at Penn.
- Read the Phillips and Milo paper; it is a really cool paper and gives a really interesting perspective on quantitative biology:
- Phillips R and Milo R. A feeling for the numbers in biology. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 22;106(51):21465-71. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0907732106 |
Life in the lab: Students
More coming soon...
Life in the lab: Postdocs
- SEAS has a nice website for postdocs.
- For continuing down the academic track, I highly recommend reading Making the Right Moves from HHMI and BWF.
The life of a scientist
Here's a collection of links to materials that are useful for a life in science. Many of these are from Uri Alon, who has inspired many of us to think critically about how to make science a friendlier place for students, postdocs and PIs alike.
How to make sure your talk doesn't suck (by David Tong)
How to give a good talk (by Uri Alon)
How to choose a good scientific problem (by Uri Alon)
How to ask good scientific questions (by Mark Davis)
Sunday at the lab (a song by Uri Alon)
Graduate school - the movie (by Cori Bargmann)