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A first challenge for a new PI

Posted by , on 7 September 2023

Hello, I am Tzer Han and I am very happy to introduce myself as a contributor to the ‘New PI Diaries’. I am starting my lab at the Physics Department of UC San Diego, with a broad interest in understanding how symmetry and order emerge in living matter. We are currently focusing on two main directions: (i) using organoids to study tissue mechanics and chart the morphological landscape of multicellular systems; and (ii) using marine invertebrates to study developmental patterning, cilia dynamics and collective behavior. If any of this sounds interesting to you, feel free to check out my website here

No doubt, becoming a new PI is rewarding but also challenging. Many tasks to be dealt with are unexpected: no one warned you about them and you have exactly one chance to get everything right. One of these tasks, if you are an experimentalist like me, is designing the lab space that suits your experimental needs. Beyond the aspects with which most of us are familiar with, like allocating benches and equipment spaces, there are infrastructures hidden from plain view that matter as much: Where to put the HEPA filter to ensure clean airflow? Should the optical table be on active or passive damping? What architectural precautions to take in case the 75 gallons aquarium tank starts leaking over a long weekend? So, after many rounds of back and forth with the design architects, electrical and mechanical engineers, safety inspectors, I am excited to see the lab design finally taking shape. It will be a few more months before the bidding, contract award, fire marshall approval and actual construction happen. But I will consider this a win for the moment. 

Lab Floorplan

This post is part of the ‘New PI diaries‘ blog series.

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Categories: Careers, Lab Life

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