Associate Professor James Smith spoke to C&EN Onion Thursday morning from his office in the Harvard affiliated Boston Children's Hospital to report on his successful creation of the ideally hostile work environment.
Professor Smith, who employs six post-doctoral researchers and three graduate students, described the atmosphere of veiled fear and tense suspicion he had meticulously crafted within his lab. "I find that the goals of science are better served when my researchers are deeply mistrustful of each other and in constant fear of having their funding cut. Really makes everyone put in a certain je ne sais quoi."
"It's actually really simple to keep the J-1's [visa holders] in line. Just the implication that I might not continue to fund them is enough to coax at least another 2-3 months of 70-hour weeks out of them."
"Every now and then I bring in a candidate to interview; you know, just so my post-docs sweat a little."
Smith went on to explain his method for ensuring the lab was bustling with activity during nights and weekends. "Last group meeting, I photocopied the employment contract each of my group members signed and highlighted the line stating each employee must work 'no less than forty hours' per week."
"I also find it's critical to encourage competition between group members," Smith continued. "If two of them are working on similar projects, I'll throw a couple tasks at them that overlap slightly. Gets 'em worrying about author order."
"Now, if I could just figure out a way to eliminate those damned hour-long lunches they keep taking."