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What Interests You in a Lab?

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With interview season coming up and decision season to follow, one of the more important questions many of us face is which lab we would like to join. Just as the title says, I'm curious what catches your eye as you scroll through dozens and dozens of faculty research statements! Below, I have listed (in no particular order) a few of the things I really pay attention to in a prospective research lab. After all, I (hopefully!) will be spending about five years in whichever lab I choose.

  • Unique model organism - I have a soft spot for the labs that conduct research in organisms besides rodents and humans. Fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, unique mammals -- bring 'em on!
  • Evidence of funding - If a lab displays active grant support, there's a higher chance I may receive a research assistantship in that lab. Having at least the option to choose whether or not to TA would be nice. Also, collaboration between labs is super rad so bonus points if the grant was awarded to a couple co-PIs.
  • Interesting work - Obvious, but important. Recent publications should be interesting to me.
  • Evidence of work/life balance - Finally, it's hard to overstate how much I appreciate seeing photos of community activities on a lab website. Outdoorsy stuff, a meal together, a silly photo or two. Anything that convinces me I will have a reprieve from the work of my PhD, at least once in a while. ?

What do you all look for? ^^

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I agree on all counts and will add one more

  • Evidence that previous PhD students are publishing / graduating in a reasonable time frame - Aside from making sure the lab has a good track record in publishing reasonably often and in good journals, I like to make sure that PhD students who have been in the lab for awhile are getting their names on these papers as well. And that all the PhD students in the lab haven't been there for 6+ years.

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