Great things can be accomplished in a quality academic research laboratory. Of course, before any groundbreaking work can be done, the lab will have to be up and running – and making that happen can be quite a challenge. There are plenty of hurdles between the first thought of opening a lab and actually bringing it to life, so we hope the tips below will be of assistance.
Establish a Focus
First and foremost, before a single piece of equipment is purchased, you need to determine what this lab is going to set out to do. In some cases, the answer will be obvious, and you’ll quickly move to the next step. That isn’t always the case, however, so take some time (if necessary) to figure out what you want your lab to accomplish in the years ahead. With clear goals in mind, some of the decisions that come later will be far easier to make with confidence.
Every Dollar Matters
All labs have a budget when they are first being established, but those creating an academic research laboratory tend to have tighter limits than those in the commercial world. It’s important to note that not all equipment needs to be purchased new in order to build a quality lab. There is excellent used lab equipment on the market today and opting for some previously used pieces is a great way to keep your costs down while still setting up exactly what you need to be successful.
Labs Run on People
Yes, the new or used laboratory equipment you bring in is important – but it is not nearly as important as the people who use that equipment. Spending as much time as possible to get exactly the right person in each role is critical. With the right team in place, everyone will be working toward a common goal, and the experience along the way will be far more enjoyable. When you look back on what you have accomplished in the lab years from now, it will be the people that worked alongside you that will be more memorable.
Don’t Work in a Vacuum
You may accomplish great things in your lab, but those breakthroughs will only be meaningful if they are known by others. Even from the start, make connections and let others know what you are working on. You might find that you get helpful tips from others in related fields, or you may even make deep connections that wind up leading to collaborative projects. It’s hard to accomplish anything of note in a lab that never reaches out to the outside world, so don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself from the start.
Starting a new academic research laboratory is an exciting time, and it may wind up being one of the great achievements of your career. With that said, labs don’t just build themselves, and you’ve got a lot of work to do before your first experiments are up and running. With the right people and the right equipment in place, who knows what is possible. Good luck!