Career Story: Lab Manager For A University Biology Department

Lab Manager For A University Biology Department

Job Title: Lab Manager (Coordinator)

Type of Company: I work for a small private university.

Education: BA, Biology, Wittenberg University •• MAT, Secondary Education, Miami University (Ohio)

Previous Experience: I worked briefly as a lab technician then went to graduate school. After that I worked as a high school teacher for fourteen years prior to becoming a lab manager.

Job Tasks: There are two different types of biology labs that we offer to new students and I coordinate much of what goes on in them, including: -the hiring of all of the teaching assistants (TA's) -the training of these TA's -the curriculum that they use to teach the labs (the lab manuals, the pre-lab PowerPoints, the answer keys and quizzes) -set-up and tear-down of the actual lab materials for each weekly session -the ordering of lab supplies (I sometimes shop for them myself) -make-up labs for all introductory biology students, as needed, each term -evaluation of the TA's

I also have a number of secondary hats to wear. We have to comply with a number of governmental safety rules and I am the unofficial 'safety officer'. I have to keep current all the main inventory of our various chemical stockrooms as well as our MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets). In the summer (although sometimes in December as well) I perform our yearly equipment maintenance and any repairs we need to do. Equipment includes our many microscopes of various forms and ages and our multitudes of micro-pippetors, amongst other devices such as water baths and balances needing yearly maintenance.

I have sporadic department meetings. I travel once a year for my job to a lab managers' society meeting to receive training and talk with my peers.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: There are many great aspects to my job, including rarely becoming bored. My job is more of a 'jack-of-all-trades' sort of job, and I enjoy not having to do the same exact thing every day. For the most part, I get to set my own schedule, with teaching constraints.

The worst part of my job may involves dealing with upset students, or having too much to do at any one moment in the day.

Job Tips: Similar jobs to mine seem to require more of the chemical safety training, and in order to get a foot-in-the-door I recommend that you get some. Check out Lab Safety Institute online.

Additional Thoughts: What has surprised me the most about my job is just how much I love doing it. And, I have used every little thing that I learned while teaching high school all those years and switching what I taught every year, sometimes every semester.

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