` Lab Dynamics: Management and Leadership Skills for Scientists, Second Edition

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Lab Dynamics: Management and Leadership Skills for Scientists, Second Edition

Subject Area(s):  Career DevelopmentHandbooks

By Carl M. Cohen, Science Management Associates, Newton, Massachusetts; Suzanne L. Cohen, Science Management Associates, Newton, Massachusetts

Download Free Excerpts from Lab Dynamics:

Download Preface
Download “Dealing with Difficult People”

© 2012 • 280 pp., illus., index
Hardcover • $59 53.10
ISBN  978-1-936113-78-1
You save: 10%

Also available as an Amazon Kindle book HERE.

  •     Description    
  •     Contents    
  •     Reviews    


Lab Dynamics is a unique guide to the interpersonal side of scientific research and management. The book provides practical solutions to some of the toughest problems that working scientists and science managers face daily – problems for which most scientists are unprepared. Eleven thematically focused chapters show scientists how to communicate and interact more productively and how to develop and improve their management and leadership skills.

Every chapter from the first edition has been revised, updated and supplemented with new illustrations and graphics; many new case studies have been added to illustrate themes and techniques.

Two new chapters have been added and new sections have been added to Chapter 3, “Gordian Knots: Solve the Toughest Problems through Negotiation” and Chapter 7 “Win/Win with Peers: Make Allies, Not Enemies”, which now contains a section on Dealing with Difficult People.

Click here to read the Nature review of CSHL’s ‘Workshop on Leadership in BioScience’.


1 People Who Do Science: Who They Are and Who They Can Be
2 The Mote in Your Own Eye: Manage Yourself First
3 Gordian Knots: Solve the Toughest Problems through Negotiation
4 A Herd of Cats: Managing Scientists
5 Team Meetings: Who's in Charge Here? NEW!
6 A Delicate Art: Manage Your Boss
7 Win/Win with Peers: Make Allies, Not Enemies
8 The Slings and Arrows of Academe: Survive to Get What You Need
9 Science, Inc.: Make a Smooth Transition to Industry
10 Leading Science: Empathy Rules NEW!
11 Shape the Future of Science and Technology
Appendix: Resources
About the Authors

New! Chapter 5. Team Meetings: Who's in Charge Here? is a comprehensive guide to managing teams or groups of scientists in meetings of all types. It covers how to structure meetings for maximum productivity, how to keep meetings on track and how to manage behaviors that limit group productivity.
Specific topics include:

  • The unwritten rules of productive scientific team meetings
  • How to structure the decision making process
  • Recognizing and addressing impediments to meeting flow
  • Tools to manage conflict during meetings

New! Chapter 10. Leading Science: Empathy Rules is a unique guide to leadership strategies and behaviors in a scientific setting. The chapter delves into the all important distinction between being a leader of science and a leader of people. Using case studies and examples this chapter shows how to apply the skills presented throughout the book to engage, motivate and inspire scientists.
Specific topics include:

  • Scientific leaders: Leaders of science or leaders of people?
  • Characteristics of effective scientific leaders: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meets Google.
  • Adaptive problem or technical problem? Miss this distinction at your peril.
  • How effective are you as a leader?



Reviews of the first edition

Lab Dynamics is a highly understandable and practical book that equips the reader with the basics for developing the requisite “soft skills” that can significantly enhance technical productivity and promote career satisfaction and advancement....

Whether they are in management or not, scientists at all stages of their careers will find Lab Dynamics a useful guide. Experienced leaders will find it a practical refresher in mastering their skills, whereas nonmanagement and early–career professionals will find it much more than a survival handbook.”
      —Clinical Chemistry

review:  “...a concisely written book designed to provide scientists, in a variety of settings, a comprehensive skill set for surviving other scientists and the pressures of the work place. The book is written to appeal to a range of scientists from beginning trainees to seasoned professionals. Importantly, the authors provide real world examples of personal interactions between scientists in jobs covering a broad scope of work settings...Scientists who work in settings ranging from industry, government, or academia will likely find the book interesting and useful...This first edition book was developed from the authors' considerable experiences as scientists and consultants in academia and in the private sector. The book is easily read and holds the interest of the reader with amusing anecdotes, clever quotes, and real world examples and tables that summarize each chapter.”
      —Veterinary Pathology


Carl Cohen discusses issues from his book in an article on “Dealing with Conflict” in The Scientist (Volume 21, Issue 2).
Full article: http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/2/1/26/1/
Interview: http://images.the-scientist.com/podcast/theweek/audio/mp3/20070131.mp3
      —The Scientist

review:  “[This] book explores the specifics of professional and personal interactions between individuals working in a scientific environment. It is a useful practical management guide not only for those who are considering scientific leadership as the next step of their career, but also for postdocs and postgraduate students, who need to interact productively with their peers and scientific advisors. What makes Lab Dynamics an unusual book is that it is largely based on personal experience and is written from the perspective of social and behavioural psychology. The authors, one is a successful scientist and President of Science Management Associations, the other is a Licensed Psychologist and Clinical instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, use real–life examples to illustrate how simple and seemingly unessential conflicts may have serious implications if systematically ignored.  Detailed analysis of critical situations is accompanied by valuable exercises and practical advice ranging from how to resolve delicate situations to how to deal with obnoxious behaviour of inconsiderate individuals. For those unfamiliar with research in the industry, the book also illustrates the basic differences between academia and biotech companies in the management of scientific projects and teams....  

Lab Dynamics is a very enjoyable read and one of the most valuable contributions to the slowly growing collection of books on laboratory management.”
      —Genetical Research

review:  “An interesting book, by a scientist and a psychologist from USA, about techniques for managing staff and students in a research lab. Chapters 3, 4 and 6 are great, focusing on case studies of real lab events and how to respond... This book gives practical advice for ‘cures’ and for prevention by managing actively in the first place!”
      —Microbiology Today

review:  “The information contained in this book should be required as a part of any scientific curriculum, particularly at the graduate levels, for students as well as laboratory directors and academic mentors.”