From Prof. Liu:

As the PI of the lab, I see myself as a research mentor for all members of the lab. I am committed to providing each lab member with encouragement, support, and opportunities for sustainable flourishing.   

What happens when a student joins the lab?

The Liu Lab is a space for students to gain training in both laboratory techniques as well as scientific thinking. Students are expected to engage in a willingness to learn and a willingness to fail. Students are also expected to commit to working safely within the Liu Lab, which includes adhering to all safety policies put forth by the Pomona College Chemistry Department and Prof. Liu.

Based on the current suite of on-going research projects in the lab, each student and I will decide on the research project that they will have ownership over throughout their time in the lab. During early training, I will teach the student in a hands-on manner how to effectively, efficiently and safely carry out experiments. Afterwards, I will expect the student to develop their own day-to-day research plans and execute experiments independently. Over the course of their time in the lab, each student will experience the challenges and the rewards of managing a long-term research project – but I will provide support throughout this process. 

Regular (if not daily, during the summer months) meetings between each lab member and myself will be the norm. We will discuss and, together, prioritize research directions for each project. I will continue to push each lab member to develop their scientific research skills by directing them to relevant papers to help them develop research plans. While I will strive to be supportive, ultimately, each student will be expected to develop independence and demonstrate initiative.

Manuscripts, Conferences, and Post-Grad Opportunities

Each lab member’s work will likely contribute to peer-reviewed manuscripts. Given the time-scale of our research, these papers are often submitted after the student has already graduated. Nevertheless, the students will be involved in all aspects of the manuscript submission process to the extent that they are able. In cases where the student is still at the College, I will ask the student to draft all manuscripts stemming from their work. 

For students who conduct a senior thesis exercise based on their research in the lab, they will prepare both a formal oral presentation to the entire department and a written thesis. I will mentor the students in preparation of these products – providing feedback on drafts and asking questions that test their critical thinking. 

Lab members are expected to work toward participation in an on-campus undergraduate research symposium and/or a regional / national scientific conference. Students attending these events will be expected to present their research at these conferences. These meetings will provide them the opportunity to receive feedback on their research prior to submission of their work for publication in a peer-reviewed journal; in the past, this has been a successful practice for my lab. All members of the lab are reminded that at these events, they are a representative of the lab and their behavior should reflect the positivity, decorum, and interpersonal respect with which we operate. See the document, Policy on Attending Conferences, for more information.

Lastly, I encourage lab members to apply for numerous fellowships and post-grad opportunities. These may include the Fulbright Fellowship, the Watson Fellowship, and scholarships to study in the UK. All Liu Lab members will be prepared to apply to graduate programs that interest them, but they should also feel empowered to explore any additional opportunities that speak to them.