Lab ethos

I aim to make the research group an open, enjoyable, creative and nurturing environment, acknowledging that nurturing is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and that different people may pursue different interests and grow in different ways.

Work-Life Balance

At its best, science is a beautiful endeavor exploring new horizons. That moment you start analyzing a painstakingly collected new data set to see if the world indeed works as you thought is exhilarating (more often than not, one of your supposedly minor assumptions turns out to be incorrect, and you see another beautiful hypothesis slain by ugly facts). Or that moment you acquire a new skill, observe a new behaviour or have an inspiring discussion with colleagues. Science can be fun, beautiful and a joy for life. However, at its worst, science can be frustrating, hard, competitive and ruthless. Cherishing the positive aspects of science, while acknowledging and accommodating the challenges is an integral part of my lab. Next to monitoring work progress, I consider it equally important to monitor well-being. I aspire to create a cooperative rather than a competitive atmosphere. I aspire to give feedback in a stimulating and positive way rather than overly emphasizing the negative aspects. Positive feedback is generally few and far between in science, especially in early-career scientists, and I find it important to also acknowledge and celebrate smaller steps of progress rather than only when that paper or grant gets accepted. I consider our group lucky to be part of the Center of Adaptive Rationality, which is an open, interdisciplinary, research group harboring a creative and intellectually stimulating environment. I personally have a flexible working schedule, occasionally working in evenings or weekends. I try to avoid sending emails in these periods, and if I do, I do not expect others to answer during these periods.


Over the years, I have observed many instances of very supportive mentoring that cherishes intellectual and personal growth, but also several instances of toxic mentoring, with mentors mainly driven by self-interest. In my supervision style, I strive to create an environment in which people enjoy the freedom to pursue their own research interests and ideas, while also benefiting from constructive and frequent guidance. People at different stages of their career may need (or want) a different intensity of mentoring, and within the same career stage, individuals may have different preferences. Talking about this at an early stage and finding a good match that works for both sides is important to me. Several concrete mentoring principles I am guided by are, prioritizing feedback to students (above working on my own first-author studies), responding quickly to emails from students, actively involving students in projects I lead, NEVER forcing a project on a student by always checking if a student is really interested in a project, and not taking on board more persons than I feel able to mentor.

Open Science

In recent times, there have seen several high profile examples of scientific misconduct in the disciplines we work in (ecology, psychology), and unfortunately across many more scientific disciplines. I believe that as scientists, we have a moral obligation to conduct science in a transparent, honest, truthful, and, ideally, reproducible manner. This is important for the progress of science, for the credibility of science and for the societal consequences of scientific findings. The history of science has seen many examples of poor studies making grand conclusions with severe consequences. The infamous study claiming a link between autism and vaccination has been debunked and retracted, but the damage has been done. The belief that both are linked is widespread with very severe health implications for our young generation. Scientific misconduct can come in many disguises, at many different steps of the scientific process, and under varying degrees of awareness. Acknowledging the problem is an important first step towards a solution. I try to take active steps to promote ethical scientific research. When submitting and publishing research, I routinely include code and data (unless it is protected or sensitive, OSF profile), so that reviewers and other scientists can reproduce the findings. I regularly use pre-registration before starting data collection to reduce the degrees of freedom of downstream decision making. However, I also acknowledge that some studies are difficult to pre-register, especially ecological field studies which are conducted under very unpredictable conditions. This gives an extra moral obligation to extensively perform statistical checks and balances to assure one can have confidence in the results. When sharing research with a broader audience, I aim to give a fair representation of the findings by highlighting the limitations and avoiding overstatements.

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