What I Expect from You

My approach is that a PhD student should be an apprentice. The best way to learn to be an awesome researcher is to do research, starting now! Yes, your classes will help, but you can expect to focus on research projects. I will help you get the skills you need to succeed professionally, figure out your strengths, and find questions you care about. Here are some things I’ll expect as we work together.

(Also check out things you can expect from me)

Related to Respect

  • Treat others fairly and respectfully. Fairness and respect are necessary for trust and collaboration. I expect you to help create a positive work environment for others and for yourself.
  • Keep your word. If you tell me you’ll write a draft, read a paper, make a prototype, then do it. I need to be able to trust what you say.
  • Respect my time constraints. I am not available for anything other than emergencies after 9pm on weekdays, or from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Plan accordingly.
  • Take care of yourself. You are a person, not a research machine. You need to be healthy and happy in order to do your best work. I expect you to follow through on taking care of yourself.


Related to Communication

  • Meet with me regularly. Expect to give brief but frequent updates on your progress.
  • Make meetings effective. Make a meeting agenda. Be on time. Take notes. Identify action items for you and for me so that we know we’re on the same page. It’s your time – you’re responsible for using it wisely.
  • Communicate early and often. Especially if there’s some kind of problem, so we can make a plan to solve it.
  • Teach others. Your skillset will grow as you progress though the PhD program. Expect to help others learn what you have learned – including me!


Related to Productivity

  • Show up during core hours. We’ll define a set of core hours when all lab members will be physically present. Outside of those hours, be as flexible with your time as you’d like. Expect core hours to run ~20 hours per week.
  • Get things done. Being a successful PhD student is mostly about solving problems. I expect you to take the initiative. Once I see what you’ve tried on your own, I’ll be able to help.
  • Fail productively. Making mistakes is essential to learning. Everyone will be wrong sometimes. Be productively wrong. Fail fast. Iterate rapidly. Learn from those mistakes, so each iteration is better than the one before.
  • Document your code. Document your research methods. I expect you to keep a research journal so you can track your ideas.


with many thanks to my PhD advisor Jessica Hammer for setting these expectations for me