Step one: Building the team
I started building up my lab a little over year ago. Of course I could not wait to get going and had a million ideas in my head when I left my postdoc lab in the US. But I also knew from many others in my situation that building up a lab takes a long time. Equipment and reagents need to be bought, ethical permits have to be written, grant applications need to be submitted, and so forth. Today, I can say that I am running a fully equipped lab and we are only limited by our ideas and hours in the day. I feel extremely fortunate that I managed to choose a surrounding that provides me with the infrastructure I need or the flexibility to put it in place. I have fantastic colleagues that help me a lot and significantly contribute to the positive experience that I have. Team work is such a big part successful scientific research!
I think so far, the most challenged I felt was during the hiring process of first lab members. While I am thrilled about my new position and enjoy almost all aspects of being an independent group leader now, I find it extremely difficult to interview possible candidates. It is almost impossible to get to know each other sufficiently during a single interview. I was also quite worried that I might not be able to find someone suitable. Many ambitious and successful PhD students decide to go abroad for their postdoctoral training. That is of course what I did, and I never regretted it. But everything fell in place for me once more: Besides a fantastic master student, I currently have one postdoc in the lab, and I couldn’t have been luckier with my choice. It was important for me to find someone who has been previously exposed to the core methods and scientific concepts that I wanted to establish. This seemed important in order to build a strong base for the lab. But it also had to be a person who I enjoy to interact with. The Ragnar Söderberg Fellowship now allows us to expand. While I am still not looking forward to the decision making, I do look forward to expanding the team and coming closer to the “critical mass” that a lab should have. Luckily, we can now decide as a group who fits best. Off to a good start!