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Molly Cule

How do I go about

switching labs within the

same institution?

This is a difficult situation and

I sincerely hope that you do

not have to be in this poisi-

tion. However, some students

or postdoctoral fellows find

themselves in a situation in

which the existing lab environ-

ment and their mentor are not

the right fit, or their interests

changed, or perhaps the men-

tor has moved across the country and moving with

the mentor is not an option. For graduate stu-

dents the situation of switching advisors presents a

humongous challenge and can be quite stressful. It

is particularly stressful for students after spending

a year or so in the lab, generating preliminary data

for a testable hypothesis. It means either a big

blow to their research career and time lost or an

increase in the amount of time needed to complete

a dissertation and graduate.

If you find yourself needing to switch, you should

consider approaching the PI and telling him/

her that you want to leave. What are the specific

issues? Framing this as your own issue rather

than placing blame with your PI should make the

conversation (and subsequent transition) less un-

comfortable. Some of these issues may include dif-

ficulty of mastering a certain technique in the lab

and your inability to make adequate progress; how

you find it difficult to fit within the lab group; or

how your research interests have changed in recent

months and explaining that there is another lab/

group that you feel is better fit for you. Often

the mentor may be able to offer advice and give

you more time to re-think your decision. Take

the time (one or two weeks at most) to rethink,

then go back to the mentor. In the unfortunate

situation that your mentor is unreasonable and

adamantly resists your need to change labs, then it

is all the more reason to leave the group. In such

a situation you can always approach the gradu-

ate program director or any other senior faculty

member within the department. Almost all gradu-

ate programs or departments will have at least one

faculty member designated as a graduate advisor.

You can request a confidential meeting with him/

her and explain your situation while appreciating

any help/support you receivefrom him/her. Good

luck finding a suitable lab and switching to it.

Grants and Opportunities

NIH Director's Pioneer Award Program (DP1)


This award is part of the NIH Common

Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that

are expected to have exceptionally high impact. To

be considered pioneering, the proposed research

must reflect ideas substantially different from

those being pursued in the investigator's research

program or being pursued elsewhere.


May Apply:

Any individual(s) with the skills,

knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out

the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/

Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to

work with his/her organization to develop an

application for support. Pioneer awardees are

required to commit the major portion of their re-

search effort to activities supported by the Pioneer

Award research project in the first three years of

the project period.


September 2, 2016



Advances in Biological Informatics


The National Science Foundation seeks

to encourage new approaches to the analysis

and dissemination of biological knowledge for

the benefit of both the scientific community and

the broader public. The ABI program is especially

interested in the development of informatics tools

and resources that have the potential to advance

or transform research in biology.


September 9, 2016



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