Term starts, but I’m hoping to keep the chaos at bay!

Last term was my first in helping supervise Undergraduate and Masters students during their projects.  At my previous two institutions I was only supervised by lecturers directly so I was unprepared for the added responsibility and although all the students project s went well overall it was …er…a bit chaotic I have to admit.

I don’t think there was one single reason for this, a combination of new equipment, run by inexperienced people (myself included) was always going to throw up some challenges.  However beyond being more experienced in my lab I hope that I can implement some strategies to prevent this next year.  Firstly and most importantly I think an official lab induction would massively reduce the number of times preventable issues, e.g. running out of solvents after the stores have closed for the day, as well instil good lab practice such as washing up glassware the day that it is used.  These ‘housekeeping issues’ are especially important in our lab as it is quite small and we share all our equipment and consumables.  I’m much more aware now of the psychology of carrying out a small project like this, how involved students get and consequently how important it is to point out the bigger picture.  There are some things that we implemented this year that worked well such as a meeting every morning just to quickly check what everyone was doing and to give brief updates on progress (or lack of it sometimes!).

If there are any other tips anyone else has in making sure the process is as smooth and positive as possible then please let me know!

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