The Business of Running a Field-based Research Program (In Person)

You asked and we listened–this is our 7th annual mini-course designed with future faculty in mind!

This mini-course will address some of your most pressing concerns as you consider the practical aspects of starting your own lab. Each of the four 75-minute sessions will be a moderated panel discussion, structured around questions that each panelist will answer.

Course Dates: Tuesday April 5, Thursday April 7, Tuesday April 12 & Thursday April 14, 10:30 – 11:45 AM
Course Capacity: 30
Location: UChicagoGRAD Headquarters – 3rd floor of the UChicago Barnes & Noble Bookstore

Participating Faculty

Maanasa Raghavan, Human Genetics
Cara Brook, Ecology & Evolution
Jacob Waldbauer, Geosciences
Trevor Price, Ecology & Evolution
Sue Kidwell, Geosciences
Zeray Alemseged, Organismal Biology and Anatomy
Ryan Williams, Field Museum, Keller Science Action Center


Abby Stayart, myCHOICE Program Director

Session Content

Session 1: Negotiating and budgeting your start-up package
Sample questions from previous years:

  • How can an applicant determine was is a “reasonable” budget and what needs to be included?
  • Did you overlook or underestimate anything as you forecasted the budget for your early years?
  • Did you do any negotiating and, if so, for what?
  • What was your strategy for spending start-up funds?
  • What were your initial sources of funding?

Session 2: Time management, planning, and staffing your research group
Sample questions from previous years:

  • What were your major priorities during the 1st year of your faculty appointment?
  • What was the greatest difference in your time management strategy as a postdoc and as a new PI?
  • Do you have any implicit or conscious time-management strategy that you feel has been important to your success?
  • How much say do you have about which course/s you teach? What percentage of time do you spend teaching vs researching?
  • What did you consider in staffing your early research group?

Session 3: Grant management and logistics
Sample questions from previous years:

  • What University resources exist to help obtain and maintain funding?
  • Do you have a process that you’ve developed that helps you get from writing the first words through to the end?
  • Is there anything proactive you can do when your grant gets rejected?
  • How do you manage the money if you have multiple grants?
  • What is the most challenging logistical aspect of working in your field and what must every early-career academic consider?

Session 4: Lab management and mentorship
Sample questions from previous years:

  • How is your lab culture and function structured with regards to lines of reporting and group dynamics?
  • To what degree are you involved in the daily functions of your research group?
  • Have you sought formal mentor or group management training?
  • What are some of the warning signs that it’s time to part with a student or employee?
  • What interpersonal skills have been more important than you anticipated?
  • What is your least favorite part of running a research group?

Follow Us