How to convince researchers to join your new lab (over more established ones)

October 15, 2020 NanoTemper Technologies


Starting a new lab as a principal investigator is an exhilarating endeavor. However, you’re met with an immediate challenge: you have to recruit new members to your lab. Potential members of your desired team, such as experienced postdocs and eager graduate students, may find it risky to start new careers with a new and relatively unheard of PI. How can you demonstrate that new investigators such as yourself have a lot to offer?

Fortunately, you are not alone, as many other investigators have also gone through this first step. In the eBook, How to start your own lab, eight principal investigators share advice about starting a lab — everything from creating a budget to laying out the space to deciding the focus of your research. Here is some of their advice on how to convince new talent to join your cause by highlighting what you can offer.


Principal investigators share the benefits of joining a new lab


“I’d say they are safer because it’s very important for a young PI to make sure that they have projects and papers out in time while established and well-funded labs can afford hiring people who won’t publish anything, as there will always be someone else who publishes. The transfer of knowledge is better in new and small labs since you work directly with your PI. ”

-Dr. Nikolina Sekulic, University of Oslo


“Novelty. I think people choose to be in my lab after they realize that the projects or ideas we are thinking about are new. You are not going to find them in a book or in many papers. That’s a huge motivating factor, to open new roads or even to innovate at the level of techniques.”

-Dr. Fabiola Osorio, University of Chile


“When you go to large and well-funded, established labs, expectations are much higher. In those settings, typically nothing is impossible, so you have to work hard and very competitively. Small labs can be nurturing and have more opportunities to make large contributions. Nobel Laureate “Venki” Ramakrishnan’s lab is a great example of that.”

-Dr. Miljan Simonovic, the University of Illinois at Chicago


“As a new lab leader, you have the opportunity to bring new ideas and new ways of doing things, and that’s exciting for young people.”

-Dr. Michal R. Szymanski, University of Gdansk and Medical University of Gdansk



Recruiting new members of your lab is one of the first big challenges you’ll face. Luckily, being a new PI can actually be your greatest advantage in convincing people to join your team. In the eBook, How to start your own lab, learn more about hiring for your new lab, including who you should hire and how to find them.

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In the eBook How to start your own lab, 8 principal investigators share their thoughts on the roles you’ll ...