“True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

Nikos Kazantzakis

As a mentor I value and respect individuality. I believe that each one of us is unique and we all have immense potential to learn, evolve and become the best version of ourselves. I believe in equity, justice and belonging. Our lab is open for every individual who is genuinely passionate about knowledge and scientific discovery. I strive to create a safe environment in which the trainees feel that is acceptable to fail and learn from their mistakes. I am here to do my best and offer support and guidance to each person in the lab. However, the journey to knowledge is endless. Thus, I encourage the members of our team to provide feedback, share their thoughts with honesty and help me improve and become the mentor each individual needs to achieve excellence and fulfill their career goals.  In my opinion, the lab should function as a team. Through our interactions,  hard work and  communication we can all grow.

To build a good communication, I meet informally with each lab member on a daily basis. The lab is next to my office so I encourage people to reach out to me with any question or concerns. In addition, we have established individual meetings that aim to set goals, communicate our expectations, discuss the details of the project, design experiments, troubleshoot and figure out strategies to make the life in the lab more efficient, pleasant and productive. With each person we establish an individual development plan that best describes their needs, expectations and career goals. We then evaluate whether we meet these goals and how we can stay on track of this plan. We also have lab meetings where all the lab members are expected to participate, share their thoughts, provide updates regarding their projects, potential challenges that they face and of course give constructive feedback to their colleagues. Once a month we discuss an assigned research article of interest or a chapter book that is pertinent to our research questions. We also participate twice a month in a joined lab meeting with the Whitmire lab with focus on epigenetics and T cell biology.

In addition, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the great seminars that UNC offers. We are lucky to be part of a vibrant, interdisciplinary scientific community that offers exposure to great science. For example, the weekly seminars hosted by the Comprehensive Lineberger Cancer Center and the Genetics Research Colloquium, the monthly seminars of the Carolina Chromatin Consortium (C3) are a great opportunity to hear some exciting presentations. We are also actively participating in the Genetics Retreat and the Comprehensive Lineberger Cancer Center Retreat. As each research member of the lab acquires more data they are highly encouraged to present their work in the various internal opportunities here at UNC as well as in other scientific conferences across the country.

The path to scientific discovery most of the times is not straightforward. Thus, perseverance, determination and hard  work are skills required to pave the way to knowledge. We will walk this path together