Mu-ming Poo is head of the Division of Neurobiology, Department of
Molecular and Cell Biology at University of California, Berkeley,
California, USA. He is also director of the Institute of
Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
To all lab members:
Over the past several months, it has become clear to me that if
there is no drastic change in the lab, Poo lab will soon cease to be
a productive, first-rate lab that you chose to join in the first
place. Lab progress reports over the past six months have clearly
shown the lack of progress in most projects. One year ago, when we
first moved to Berkeley, I expressed clearly to everyone my
expectation from each one in the lab. The most important thing is
what I consider to be sufficient amount of time and effort in the
lab work. I mentioned that about 60 hr working time per week is what
I consider the minimal time an average successful young scientist in
these days has to put into the lab work.
There may be a few rare lucky fellows like Florian, who had two
Nature papers in his sleeve already, can enjoy life for a while and
still get a job offer from Harvard. no one else in the lab has
Florian\'s luxury to play around.
Thus I am imposing strict rules in the lab from now on:
1. Every one works at least 50 hr a week in the lab (e.g., 8+ hr a
day, six days a week). This is by far lower than what I am doing
every day and throughout most of my career. You may be smarter or do
not want to be as successful, but I am not asking you to match my
time in the lab.
2. By working, I mean real bench work. This does not include surfing
on the computer and sending and receiving e-mails for non-scientific
matters unrelated to your work (you can do this after work in the
lab or at home), and excessive chatting on nonscientific matters. No
long lunch break except special occasions. I suggest that everyone
puts in at least 6 hr concentrated bench work and 2+ hr reading and
other research-related activity each day. Reading papers and books
should be done mostly after work. More time can be spent on reading,
literature search and writing during working hours when you are
ready for writing a paper.
3. I must be informed in person by e-mail (even in my absence from
the lab) when you are absent from the lab for a whole day or more.
Inform me early your vacation plan. Taking more than 20 working days
out of one year is the maximum to me. In fact, none of you are
reporting any vacation and sick leave on your time sheet (against
the university rule, although I have been signing the sheets), but
you know roughly how many days you were not here. On the whole, I
understand and accept the fact that you may not fulfill the above
requirements all the time, due to health reasons, occasional
personal business. But if you do not like to follow the rules
because it is simply a matter of choice of life style, I respect
your choice but suggest you start making plans immediately and leave
the lab by the end of January 31. I will do my best to help you to
locate a lab to transfer or to find a job.
If you do accept the conditions I describe above, I am happy to
continue to provide my best support to your work, hopefully more
than I have done in the past. I will review the progress of everyone
in the lab by the end of June of 2002. I expect everyone to have
made sufficient progress in the research so that a good paper is in
sight (at least to the level of J. Neuroscience). If you cannot meet
this goal at that time, I will have to ask you to prepare to leave
my lab by the end of August.