Negotiating for space.
I was talking to some assistant professors recently about lab space, and what I heard really bothered me. I'm hoping the blogosphere can help come up with some rules to live by.
1. It sounds like it's quite common for faculty to be hired without having ever seen their assigned lab space. This, first of all, seems very strange to me. Do they only show it to you if you ask?
2. I've heard many young faculty are hired and arrive into 'temporary' lab space while waiting for a new building to be completed. "Temporary" sounds like it usually means ~ 2 years. Since it's temporary, they have no choice about what space they get and might not have seen it.
3. I've seen many young faculty don't get the space they were promised, but how they handle this can be a bag of worms.
Apparently, asking to be given the number of benches you were promised can tag you as 'pushy'. This is especially bad for women.
Not asking can mean you're at the mercy of whomever you are 'sharing' with, which means you might gain the space eventually, but only if you're lucky and your lab neighbors are decent human beings.
What do you do if they're not?
4. It sounds like these joint/continuous lab spaces (many benches, no walls) are more common than they used to be.
I don't like this arrangement.
I think at least some intermediate or half-walls can be better than no walls.
While I don't mind being completely isolated, because I know there are other ways to meet people, this can be less desirable for equipment sharing and other reasons.
But the idea of (assuming I get any faculty interviews) being offered a couple of benches in the middle of some raucous, enormous shared lab terrifies me.
I wouldn't want to work like that as a grad student or a postdoc, so why would I want to work like that as a PI?
Am I in the minority nowadays? Is this just my inner hermit rebelling against the communal way of life?
I mean, I know there's more emphasis than ever on collegiality and all that, but I'm not convinced we have to design labs like the orphanage in Annie or allow conditions like freshman dorms, in order to, what? Facilitate collaborations? Save money? Steal reagents from each other?