Information for current and prospective members of the lab

This page contains the relatively-static information relevant to the lab. A more dynamic page that includes current lab membership, projects, etc. is available here:

A list of must-read resources is available here.

First and foremost, I would like to stress that I strongly believe that diversity matters!. I, and the other members of the lab, strive to create an environment that supports and promotes diversity (broadly defined) in the lab, the broader scientific community, and beyond. To make this goal more concrete, we have developed a list of “norms” that define our lab culture and expect that all members of the lab strive to adhere to these norms.

The guidance here is primarily for PhD students even though the lab frequently hosts undergraduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and even high school interns. What unifies all the trainees in the lab is a desire to become independent scientists who make substantial contributions to science and society.

I want to acknowledge that the path to scientific excellence is long and full of set-backs and self doubt. Those who are members of the lab are here because of my belief that you have the ability to successfully navigate this long path. To do so, however, a lot depends on your own actions. Here is some advice about practices that will help you succeed. Also, since writing is such an important part to being successful (not just in academia), I have set up the following page with writing advice.

Starting with a template from the university’s graduate school, I have created a document that outlines the expectations I have for students in the lab as well as the expectations you should have for me. This document is meant as a starting point for discussions between you and me as we establish and evolve our relationship during your time in the lab.

It is critically important to recognize that the advisor-advisee relationship is not the same as the relationship between a teacher and a student. As an advisor, while I might teach you certain things, most of the time I will just guide your self-directed path. It is your responsibility to learn the things that you need to know in order to conduct your research. By and large, I will just set goals for you and it will be your responsibility to figure out how to reach them. You can certainly come to me with questions and seek advice when you get stuck, but do not expect that I will spell out each small step of your project.

To make things a bit more concrete, a teacher might say the following:

Implement a dynamic programming alignment algorithm that takes in two protein sequences and reports the optimal global alignment (see recurrence equations in the textbook) between the sequences. Please use the BLOSUM62 substitution matrix and a penalty of -5 for insertion/deletion events. In case of ties, you may report any of the alignments that have the optimal score. The alignment must be output on 3 separate lines, following the format below:


As an advisor, my request to you might be simply:

Develop an algorithm that aligns a sequence to a genome while accounting for sequencing errors typical of the Ilumina technology.

It will be up to you to figure out the details and learn the information and skills necessary to achieve this goal.

Finally, and most importantly, my primary goal as a scientist is to substantially advance scientific knowledge, and to enable others to do the same. While often times the work that we conduct in the lab may be incremental, I am constantly looking out for ideas and results that could be “game changers” for the field. “Good enough” is simply not good enough for me. I hope to impart to those passing through the lab the same desire to have a transformational impact in their career.

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