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To Comentor or not to Comentor--Please help!


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Hi Everyone,

Thank you in advance for all of your help! I am really perplexed as to what lab I should join. I have two very distinct labs that I am interested in joining and both have fatal faults which makes me very unsure of my decision.

I am leaning towards either joining Lab 1 alone or Lab 1 and 2 as a comentorship however they are not buddies (nor are they enemies) and have very different personalities so, while they are currently collaborating on a project, there is no telling what a comentorship would be like. I am considering a comentorship because Lab 1 is so young I have no idea if he will get good publications or be a good mentor and I believe he is overwhelming himself by taking on 3 grad students all at once. Additionally, Lab 2, while adding credibility, writing expertise, and a focus on my favorite cell type, also allows me to do some awesome research techniques which are uniquely their own and rarely shared. Plus the both of the labs' research very nicely compliments each other and adds a burgeoning part of the field to each lab's repertoire (and mine o.o). I have yet to talk to either lab about comentorship as I want to solidify my decision before I do. Thank you for all of your help!

Lab 1: a very young PI who is likely taking on way too many grad students this year, including one I don't particularly enjoy as a colleague, but whose overall lab and research is a better fit. Personality = reserved

  • Pros
    • Tons of funding, niche area that's very unique but "hot" right now, plays to my experience more
    • Great lab environment
    • Very open to following your research ideas
    • More bioinformatics (something I want to learn)
  • Cons
    • Very young PI--would be his first grad student and he has no last author publications.
    • Already busy and hands off, kind of isolated from the community
    • Will likely be taking THREE GRAD STUDENTS all at the same time (with no previous mentoring experience) -- I don't think I would like one of them as a colleague for the next 5 years
      • He asked one of the students to join (the one I don't enjoy working with) without asking anyone in lab about them -- if they have their own funding then it seems lab environment is sacrificed--could this happen again?
    • Maybe a bit too clinical in its focus

Lab 2: a PI of 10+ years who has an established publishing record (important to me!) but also way too much on his plate (large-ish lab, 2 companies, etc.) and VERY hands off/not very collaborative. Overall still a pretty dang good research fit and a good lab environment but you only meet every other month or so. Personality = Talkative/Get it done type of person

  • Pros
    • Funding, high tech and more unique techniques, more basic biology than Lab 1
    • Good lab environment--very social
    • I would be the only new grad student
    • More well known, will be easier to publish better/get fellowships/get a high postdoc
    • Work focuses on a type of cell type that I am more interested in and Lab 1 doesn't work in at all.
  • Cons
    • Primarily wants to follow his ideas, not yours
    • Not very collaborative, if at all (doesn't seem to be working with almost any labs)
    • Extremely hands off
    • OLDEST lab equipment I've ever seen

I know neither the individual labs nor the comentorship are ideal but please let me know any thoughts or questions you may have! I have been talking and thinking about this for almost a month now and can use all the help I can get.

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