The car slammed to a halt on a sunny afternoon. A cloth and metal figure of a child wiggled back and forth following its sudden emergence into the car’s path. Inside, two sets of human eyes stared at the puppet kid’s eyes. The car was watching too.
A moment later, the car’s brake pedal lifted from the floor. The Bosch engineer riding in the car, who hadn’t even moved his foot as the vehicle brought itself to the abrupt stop, now stepped on the brake. Now that the car’s autonomous braking system—a chip that used images from a windshield camera—had concluded that the danger of an accident had passed, it was handing control back to the human driver.
Hilde Janssens currently works as a lab manager in the laboratory of a junior principal investigator (PI) at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain—except when she’s teaching other scientists how to manage their own laboratories. In 2009, Janssens participated in her first lab management course, offered by her institution through the Heidelberg, Germany-based training and coaching company hfp consulting. A year later, the company recruited her as a part-time instructor. Continue reading
Firing a member of your lab is difficult. Fortunately, it’s also rare. The first and only time cell biologist Samara Reck-Peterson had to do it, in her laboratory at Harvard University, she felt prepared. She had practiced the difficult conversation during a lab management course she’d taken in 2009, and she had a script ready. “Practicing is really the most important thing,” she says. Continue reading
When Kelly Andringa began to get calls from faculty anxious about their paperwork, she wondered whether she’d done her assignment right. As a 2-days-a-week intern on the conflict-of-interest review board at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB), she had written a Web-based tutorial explaining to faculty how to properly fill out compliance forms. Her main job, however, was as a postdoc in environmental health at the same university; administration was new to her. But, as more calls came in, Andringa realized that the concerns of most of those faculty members were unwarranted: They had completed the forms correctly. “I was quite proud,” she recalls. “I felt good about communicating it well.”