How we operate

The lab’s philosophy

Research culture

We are a tight-knit team, and we value diversity and inclusivity. Effective and respectful communication is at the core of how we operate. We have zero tolerance for bullies (including the passive-aggressive ones), superstars incapable of playing with others, and discriminators of any kind. We are a small group, we share equipment, resources and office space, and frankly we spend more time with each other than with our families: we have to gel as a team. Nobody expects lifelong friendships to emerge (but kudos if they do), however being great co-workers is a must. Therefore, every person who wants to join the lab for a substantial period of time (postgrads, postdocs, long-time visitors) will be interviewed by all lab members.

We work hard, but in a smart way. While we try to spend the majority of our working hours in the lab/office, because we believe that is how a team is built and how one learns from one’s colleagues, presentism for the sake of it is a big no. Everyone works with a schedule that suits their experiments, the animals, the shared equipment rota, and their personal life. There is implicit trust in the fact that we are all adults who WANT to be here and do science, so there is no micromanagement on hours. Annual holidays are mandatory, because burnt-out people do shoddy science and we really do not want that. Also, holidays are very nice.

Widening access

Everyone belongs in Cambridge and in our lab, affluent or not, privately or state educated, from an academic family or first-generation (like Elisa), with skins of every shade, passports from any country, with a plurality gender identities and sexual orientations, and a variety of religious beliefs – or lack of them. Everyone should be encouraged to apply to studentships and jobs in Cambridge, because their unique prospective brings the richness and diversity which drive excellence. Thus, we work/volunteer with whoever lets us try to enthuse young people to fall into this rabbit hole called neuroscience (current and past examples: Fitzwilliam College, Girls in STEM, in2Science, the Brilliant Club).

We believe that people doing a job should receive a salary. We also believe that it is unethical to enrich the CV of well-off individuals who can afford to live in Cambridge while on unpaid internships, whereas less affluent people cannot afford such opportunities. Therefore we do not accept unpaid volunteers at any career stage.

Open Science & publishing

Our research is predominantly funded via taxes and charity funds: we believe that we have a duty to share what we discover. Also, our research is cool, and we WANT to share it! We only publish open access articles, and post preprints whenever possible. We also share all data part of published papers in annotated datasets, and analysis and code, and protocols, and everything that could be of use, including illustrations via SciDraw.

We are not keen on donating our work and time to publishing companies with profit margins higher than the oil industry. Thus, unless forced by extreme circumstances (e.g. unmovable collaborators who are last authors) we do not submit our work to these journals, and we do not review for them. Instead we support community and society journals, which are many and of outstanding quality (e.g. Science, PLOS, Journal of Neuroscience, eLife, Journal of Physiology, European Journal of Neuroscience…).

Public engagement

The lab is highly invested in engaging the public with our research, and strives to ever increase the quality of our outreach activities. As said above, our work is cool, the brain is amazing, and we want everybody to know this and share in our joy when we look under the microscope and see a gorgeous neuron.

Participating in at least one public engagement event is mandatory for all lab members, but really, nobody wants to stop at one. It is fun to talk to the public about neurons and smells, and it is actually a great way to improve our communication skills (and artistic ones, if making neurons out of pipe cleaners counts as art). See below a set of pretty pictures from the 2022 Cambridge Science Fest.

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