A PI on Her Leadership Style in the Lab
In this video, Elba Serrano, Regents Professor of biology at New Mexico State University (NMSU), shares her experience as a leader in her lab.
Serrano stresses the importance of facilitating inspiration because the lab is a place of innovation, where risks and possible failure can be frequent. Focusing on connecting people’s interests and curiosity to the bigger picture of the scientific research questions the lab is facing is for her a key component of leadership.
Serrano takes her leadership one step further and applies those same principles of inspiration and innovation beyond the bench.
Recently serving as the co-chair of the NIH Diversity Working Group, Serrano understands it takes leadership and patience to foster a diverse scientific community. “I look back on my years of working on diversity or working on interdisciplinary work, and I realize change has happened, but is just happens slower than I would like it to,” says Serrano.
In order to be an effective leader, Serrano believes it’s critical to hear many perspectives. “It’s important to make sure the input you’re receiving in whatever enterprise you undertake is diverse,” explains Serrano.
As the principal investigator and program director of NMSU’s Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement, Serrano also encourages her students to seek opportunities that promote personal and professional growth in diverse settings.
“The [opportunities] I would encourage people to participate in are the ones where you have mixed voices, where there are differences of opinion and we have to get about the difficult task of listening to each other, working through it patiently, and finding common ground to move the needle forward,” she says.