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Group Leaders

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Our Research / Group Leaders
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Janelia group leaders are independent scientists who direct a team of researchers. Group leaders are at all career stages, ranging from those who have just completed their PhD to more senior scientists, similar to HHMI investigators.
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Group Leaders
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Janelia group leaders are independent scientists who direct a team of researchers. Group leaders are at all career stages, ranging from those who have just completed their PhD to more senior scientists, similar to HHMI investigators.
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Explore these pages to find out how our group leaders and their labs embody Janelia’s intellectual creativity. A complete list of our labs can be found on the main research page.

Inside Our Labs

By design, Janelia group leaders have time to focus their energy and creativity on research. All our labs are internally funded at levels sufficient to pursue an ambitious research program, with access to unparalleled scientific and technical facilities. The absence of teaching, fundraising, and administrative responsibilities allows group leaders to devote the vast majority of their time to a transformative research program that might be difficult to pursue elsewhere.

Group size is limited in order to encourage focus on high-impact research. This also enables hands-on research by the group leaders and interaction between labs. Even our senior group leaders can be found in the lab more often than in the office. Early-career group leaders have a minimum of two lab members (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or technical staff), while more senior group leaders have up to six lab members. These small teams all enjoy a “big science” boost from the generous support provided by shared research resources. These are large groups of professional staff encompassing a range of research areas, which considerably increase the capabilities of each lab by centralizing both routine and sophisticated lab functions. Additional research opportunities are offered by the Visitor Program and Project Teams.

Program Details

Janelia is the place to carry out your “dream experiment.” We bet millions of dollars of resources on you, and you get the opportunity to do bold and potentially transformative research. Janelia group leaders have initial appointments of seven years that can be renewed. Our review process considers not simply the importance of publishing your work when it’s ready, but also the unpublished progress you’ve made toward developing a research program that would be difficult to achieve elsewhere.

Our early-career group leaders are supported by both internal and external mentoring programs to help them establish an independent research program that may be continued at Janelia or elsewhere. Successful review of established group leaders can also include the ability for the group leader to transfer his or her appointment as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator to a research university in the United States.

At Janelia, we value collaboration. Full internal funding and small labs translate into time to interact not only with members of your group but also with your colleagues. Thus, it is common to see a group leader discussing results with a postdoc from another lab over coffee in Bob’s Pub. We also place a high value on collegiality. We expect group leaders to make a positive contribution to the overall scientific environment at Janelia.

Who Are We Looking For?

We’re looking for group leaders with a vision and a passion for research. Group leaders are recruited from a range of career stages and disciplines, including biology, chemistry, computer science, physics, and engineering.

Our search paradigm is simple. To be a strong candidate at Janelia, you should identify an important problem, clearly articulate how solving the problem will have a large impact on the field, and present a plausible strategy for solving that problem. Such a strategy will almost always be bold and will often be risky.

In the biological sciences incremental progress can be valuable, and there are many good examples of fields that have progressed through a series of incremental advances. This model will no doubt continue to be the predominant paradigm in biology. Occasionally, however, an individual or a team tries a new approach or develops a new method that catapults the field forward. At Janelia, we place a high value on people who are willing to try something new in an effort to achieve this kind of transformational advance.

We judge our group leaders almost entirely on their potential to transform their field. Many of our group leaders have nontraditional backgrounds (e.g., starting their Janelia lab straight out of graduate school, after working in industry, or even after a hiatus from science altogether). If you are a traditional candidate (e.g. a postdoc) and you find yourself sending the same application to Janelia that you are sending to other places, you should stop to think: if funding were not an issue and you could have unqualified support to pursue the boldest vision you could imagine, what would you really do? Share your vision, and we will take notice.

Transforming a field often takes the form of developing a new technique or approaching a problem in an entirely novel way. In many cases, this means taking on considerable risk. What if your strategy doesn’t work or takes longer than expected? Bold research projects can be evaluated for their progress, even independently of publication. Our group leaders get good advice, from both internal and external mentors, on when it makes sense to keep pushing along the same path or to switch directions. We provide safety nets, such as transitional funding that you can take elsewhere if you leave Janelia, as well as leaders who are willing to support a research program with a compelling vision, even when the inevitable obstacles emerge.

Science is about the thrill of discovery. Janelia was modeled after respected institutions with track records for producing disproportional impact and breakthroughs. We offer you a chance to help us dramatically advance science by enabling your most ambitious research goals.