Expectations of the Duke Computational Mechanics Laboratory (Dolbow Research Group)

   The Duke Computational Mechanics Laboratory seeks to develop new numerical methods and models for emerging problems in mechanics, with a particular emphasis on damage and fracture.     Broadly speaking, members are expected to help advance the science of the lab, by conducting excellent research and publishing the results in leading peer-reviewed journals.  As the head of the lab, Professor Dolbow is also expected to help advance the careers of all junior members.  The following items speak to more detailed expectations that set the tone for the daily and weekly operations of the lab. 

Overall Principles

  • All members are expected to treat others with kindness, patience, and respect.  

  • The lab expects all members to strike a balance between work in the lab and outside activities for fun.  This includes the expectation of members taking vacation time (posted to Slack) and occasional group gatherings for lunches, barbecues, games, and etc. 

  • There are no set hours for working in the lab, for example 9-5.  Members are encouraged to try to be in the lab on campus when possible during the day, as it helps build collaboration, but remote work either on or off campus is always an option.   Everyone is expected to work at their own pace and for durations that are comfortable for them, with an emphasis on quality of work hours instead of quantity.  

  • Members are encouraged to discuss their work and problems/challenges/questions with other members.  There is a great deal of expertise within the lab, and a culture of sharing ideas and knowledge is encouraged.  

  • All members are expected to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field of computational mechanics as they relate to their research projects or general interests.  In practical terms, this means that members are expected to occasionally (i.e. once a month) peruse recent issues of leading journals in the field.   Interesting papers can be put forward for discussion at group meetings.  

  • The scientific integrity and reputation of the lab is of utmost importance.  All members should at all times strive to obtain results that are correct and can be reproduced, particularly when they are included in a publication, poster, or presentation to the scientific community.  Mistakes are made at times, and that is understandable, and when they impact results these should be brought to the attention of Prof. Dolbow or a senior member of the lab immediately.  

  • For scientific manuscripts, efficiency and timeliness are both very important.  Good ideas are likely being considered by other groups, and it is no fun for anyone for the lab  to be “scooped”.  Members are encouraged to put considerable effort into advancing manuscripts as they are being developed, and Professor Dolbow is expected to respond to any new draft updates within one week.  

  • Members are expected to obtain mastery in a state-of-the-art research topic over the course of their time in the group.  Early on, the expectation is that new members will require assistance and guidance from the rest of the group.  As members progress in the course of their degree or time in the group, the expectation is that they will be teaching others about the topic they have mastered.  

  • As mastery of a topic is developed, the expectation is that members will become more autonomous in driving the research.  This includes making decisions about the direction of the research, and translating those results into outputs (journal publications, conference presentations, web pages) for dissemination to the scientific community.

Day to Day and Weekly Operations

  • All members will gather once a week in a weekly group meeting.  The objective of the group meetings is to share activities with everyone.  All members are expected to provide constructive feedback and suggestions.  

  • To the extent possible, slides for group meetings should be uploaded to the Duke Box folder for the group before the meetings begin. 

  • Professor Dolbow will also hold individual, one-on-one meetings with all members once a week.  If additional meetings are helpful, they can be suggested by either the junior member or Professor Dolbow and scheduled as needed.

  • All members are expected to keep their data files, input decks, etc. in a file system that is organized and stored on one of the workstations in the lab.  Personal laptops should not be used to store data.   Critical results should be saved.  README files should be used in directories to explain what is there, when the work was done, and anything else that would be useful to future members to understand and reproduce the results.  All members are entitled to take a copy of all of their data when they leave the lab.  

  • There is a Duke Box folder set up for the lab.  Members are encouraged to store critical result files in their folders there.   Files associated with papers should also be stored there.

  • Members are encouraged to share or suggest innovations pertinent to day to day work or outputs, either with each other or the entire lab.  Examples include techniques for generating graphs and figures in LaTeX, to testing code, to tools within Slack and JabRef, and etc.

  • The lab provides all members with a workstation, a display, and a keyboard/mouse for their research.  Any item needing to be replaced or upgraded (e.g. memory) should be called to the attention of Professor Dolbow right away so that it can be ordered in a timely manner.   

Career Planning and Timely Progress to Degree

  • Professor Dolbow will meet with all students and post-docs in the lab at least once a year to discuss progress on research and progress towards degree, expected timelines to completion, and etc.  During these meetings, the members will discuss career aspirations, options,  and goals and additional steps (as needed) to help meet them.  These meetings will be held every May after classes end.  

  • Periodically alumni from various areas (academia, industry, national labs) will be invited to come back to visit the group and give presentations on their careers. 

  • Summer internships or internships with industry or the national labs are options for students in the group.  Students are encouraged to pursue these opportunities if they are of interest professionally, and to coordinate with Prof. Dolbow in terms of the timing.  

  • Students should not begin to interview for future positions before discussing with Prof. Dolbow regarding their timeline to completion.  

  • Members are encouraged to discuss outside offers of employment with Prof. Dolbow before accepting a position.  

Support and Lab Membership

  • The physical and mental health of all members of the lab is primary and takes precedence over other considerations.  Members are encouraged to bring issues to Professor Dolbow as appropriate when they may impact their ability to continue research.  Duke has excellent support for both physical and mental health, and members should take advantage of these resources while at the University.  

  • Students and post-docs in the lab have an expectation of being informed what projects are providing them with stipend support, the timelines for those projects, and any concerns.  If a change in support is expected, students and post-docs should be given at least three months notice.  

  • If a junior member of the lab is planning to leave the lab to join another, Professor Dolbow should be given at least three months notice.  

  • All lab members are encouraged to discuss problems or issues with one another or with Professor Dolbow openly and as early as possible.  However, in the case when students believe problems have not been properly addressed, they are encouraged to reach out to the Director of Graduate Studies in MEMS.  Alternatively, they may also speak to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education in Pratt.