Dr Damon Huber
University of Birmingham
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?
My PhD supervisor, Jon Beckwith. During his long and productive scientific career, Jon used bacterial genetics to study complex biological phenomena ranging from the genetic regulation of the lac operon to protein folding to biogenesis of the bacterial cell envelope. Although we are not exclusively committed to the use of genetics as a research method, genetic thinking lies at the heart of the experimental approach in my lab. In addition, Jon has balanced incredible science with his personal interests and a strong commitment to social justice, which has been an inspiration for me.
In three words or phrases how would you describe your supervision style?
Collaborative, guiding, (scientific) question-oriented
In one or two sentences please describe your strategies regarding the following.
Provision of training:
One of the main goals of a PhD is to develop a student into an independent scientist. The key word is “develop”: the ultimate goal is to get the student working independently in the lab as soon as possible, but I try to provide as much support as required to get a student there.
Progression monitoring and management:
Every person and every PhD is different, and each combination could require a different management style. However, the students that thrive in my lab are those that actively participate in driving the project forward. That said, science is more fun and more exciting when there are more ideas, and you will receive plenty of feedback from me and other lab members (e.g. through group meetings) as you go along.
Regular communication is mostly driven by the student. I want to talk about projects at least weekly, but I’m happy to chat more frequently (formally or informally). Talking with lab members about science (or whatever!) is the favourite part of my day and a welcome diversion from other tasks.
How often do your PhD students see you in a timetabled group meeting?
At least once per week
In year 1 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?
At least once per fortnight
In year 2 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?
At least once per fortnight
In year 3 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?
At least once per fortnight - more frequently as the student approaches the deadline for thesis submission.
What form do your 1:1 meetings with PhD students take?
Face to face (if allowed under current health and safety advice)
Open door policy?
Yes, but my pattern of being contactable for an instant response is not predictable.
My expectation of PhD student working patterns?
The timing of work in my lab is completely flexible, and (other than attending pre-arranged meetings), I expect students to manage their own time.
However, under standard (non-COVID) working conditions, your time will most efficiently used if you (i) keep semi-regular working hours and (ii) those working hours partially overlap with other lab members’ and mine.
Notice for feedback (e.g. on reports, manuscript drafts, thesis chapters)?
I need at least 1 week’s notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words. (Preferably 2 weeks)