We aim to perform high quality and innovative research to improve our understanding of language and cognitive development and ultimately improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
We also aim to foster scientific inquiry and professional development through a collaborative and supportive environment that is dedicated to training and mentorship.
Finally, through publication, presentation, collaboration, and community outreach, we strive for the impact of our research and our mentorship/training to extend beyond the walls of the lab.
In the fall of 2021, just as my small lab began budding off from my mentor Chuck Nelson’s lab, and amidst the COVID pandemic, I decided to leverage the wealth of experience from the Nelson lab members to collaboratively brainstorm a set of values to help guide lab decisions (like remote/hybrid work) and prioritize projects and infrastructure. Over the course of several months we held multiple discussions and the following values emerged and were fine tuned. These are not just a list of words to be looked at on our website; they are an integral part of our lab and are discussed regularly as we develop studies, protocols, build our team, and interact with the broader community. They are values we really do value.
Our research must be built upon scientific integrity. This not only means we hold each other accountable to obvious ethical standards, it also means we encourage critique of the quality of our work, and we build systems that allow our methods and analyses to be replicated and dissected. Integrity also extends us as individuals and team members. We are most productive when we work as a team and when we can depend on the quality and integrity of our teammates.
Clear communication to fellow scientists and to our study participants and the broader community is a cornerstone of ensuring that our research extends beyond the walls of our lab. Clear scientific communication to various audiences comes with practice and training. The goal of clarity extends to virtually everything we do - clarity in scientific protocols, data organization, publications, presentations, consent forms, questionnaire development, etc. Finally, excellent teamwork and collaboration depends on clear expectations at all levels.
We recognize that it is human nature to make mistakes and to have bias - both personally and in our research. Recognition that these mistakes and biases exist is valued. Further we strive to identify our mistakes and biases rather than hide from them. This allows us to make systematic changes to ensure that we remain open minded and foster a growth mindset in ourselves and the work that we do.
Effective and impactful research reflects diving deeply into research questions. In a world where multitasking has become the norm, this is a reminder to us to be present in conversations, to ask questions, and engage and collaborate with our broader research community. The research questions we investigate are driven by the challenges children with neurodevelopmental disorders experience - and to fully understand these challenges we seek to listen and learn from families and communities.
Diversity of ideas fosters rich and impactful research. We cultivate diverse ideas by actively recruiting and supporting lab members with different backgrounds, both in the types of expertise they bring, and their own personal cultural experiences. In addition, we are invested in ensuring our research is inclusive of and accessible to participants from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.
Ultimately we want our work to have a positive impact on children and families. With that goal, there is an urgency which cannot be overlooked and which motivates us to be productive in our research. We push ourselves to investigate relevant questions, make discoveries, and share our findings with the community. On the smaller scale, we value making a long-lasting positive impact on each other and our lab community.