Career Story: Microbiology Laboratory Manager At A University

Microbiology Laboratory Manager At A University

Job Title: Laboratory Manager

Type of Company: A research lab in a university setting.

Education: BS in Microbiology, Michigan State University

Previous Experience: For 2 years I was an assistant teaching lab sections at Michigan State. I moved into a position as a technician in a research lab for 3 years. I spent 1 1/2 years in a clinical microbiology lab in a hospital, then returned to research labs, moving up through the levels until I became laboratory manager.

Job Tasks: I oversee all aspects of the running of a research lab in a university setting. I am responsible for the overall organization of the lab; ordering and maintaining equipment and supplies; hiring, training and managing technicians and students; assisting graduate students and research scientists with their experiments; designing and conducting my own experiments; writing and submitting protocols for animal and human experimentation to the appropriate review boards; making sure that we are compliant with university, city, state and federal regulations.

On any given day I may be performing science experiments on the bench, working with mice in and animal facility or be buried in paperwork at my desk.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I like the fact that my job is so varied. I'm never bored and never know what the next day might bring. I love the fact that I meet and work with people from all over the world. I also like the mindset of people in academics. They are there because they truly love discovery and the quest for knowledge. I have also had the opportunity to travel to scientific meetings in many parts of the country and the world.

The downside to my job is that there is a constant turnover of people as they train and move on to new positions. You make wonderful friendships and then people scatter to the far corners of the earth.

My job can also be very hectic. A lab manager definitely needs to be able to multi-task!

Job Tips:
1. Take as many different kinds of laboratory courses as you can - acquire a broad base of knowledge.

2. Find a professor who will let you work in their lab - even if it is just as a volunteer. Experience is key!

3. Pitch in whenever you can to help others. No task is too small or menial. You have to be willing to do everything.

Additional Thoughts: Academia is not as well paid as a job in industry. This is not a career for someone who wants to get rich, but I find it very rewarding. I would not be able to go to a job that I hate every day.

In research you must be able to handle defeat. Negative results are a fact of life, and are often the correct result.

I am amazed at the places I have traveled, the investigators I have met, and the respect they show me even though I do not have a doctoral degree.

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