Chakraborty Group

Group Norms and Expectations

Chart showing program, department and division resources

This document lays out the norms and expectations for all mentees of Bulbul Chakraborty, whether they are postdoctoral scholars, graduate students or undergraduate students. Because of the necessarily extended interaction between a PhD thesis advisor and PhD students, much of this document is focused on ensuring that we are on the same page regarding our mutual expectations.


If there is a discrepancy between the lab expectations and any of the other documents higher up in the department/division/university structure, defer to the policies indicated at those higher levels. The University Bulletin and University policies and procedures supersede all other policies and procedures.

If there are any issues with stated expectations or with an individual adhering to expectations, there are various people within the division and in the university as a whole who they can speak to for help. The Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office has put together a guide on the different people in the division who can be a source of support and help for graduate students.

Group Dynamics

My Mentoring Philosophy

I am a physicist, a woman and a mother: I believe that is what defines me and, therefore, my approach to mentoring. Above all, I am passionate about what I do, and there is an intensity that drives me, often keeps me awake at night and is more powerful than caffeine in waking me up! I am a maverick and I often go out on a limb in pursuing my research. These are traits that you should be aware of but by no stretch of imagination do I mean to clone myself in my mentees.

What I have learnt in my five decades of being a physicist is that approaching a subject with humility, acknowledging what I do not know, and starting by "writing in the margins" of what has been established helps me open up new directions. This type of work needs perseverance, thinking outside the box and time commitment. These are the core values that I try to communicate to all my mentees.

  • My door is always open. Literally on weekdays and if I am not in a meeting but also figuratively. I welcome new ideas and try to be a good listener.
  • I expect to have weekly individual meetings with each of my mentees in addition to the large and small group meetings that necessarily arise from common research projects.
  • I prefer that my PhD students spend at least 75% of their time working on campus. The reason is that I would like to be able to walk down to your desk and discuss physics when I have an idea. These in-person interactions are very valuable from my perspective. If there are reasons that keep you from being on campus, I would like to know about it. If there are workplace issues that keep you away, then I will make every effort to address these concerns.
  • I keep odd hours and send emails at these odd hours also. I do not expect you to respond immediately but I do expect an acknowledgement, at least, within 24 hours.
  • I welcome new ideas, but I will always engage in a reality check with you. This should not be a dampener for your enthusiasm. If I am being illogical or dismissive of your ideas without sufficient reason, then I need to hear that from you.
  • I welcome diversity in my group. I believe that diversity of gender, ethnic, cultural, and "ways of learning and research" enrich our field and community.
  • I expect members of the group to treat each other with respect. There can be no exception to this. I also expect a collegial environment where we help each other, and we feel comfortable approaching each other for help.
  • I expect PhD students in my group to attend the departmental colloquia: even if they are outside the immediate field of your research. Your days as a graduate student are the most "protected time" that you have to absorb and learn new things. Once you embark on your own career, whatever that might be, it becomes increasingly difficult to find that space and time.
  • I encourage all my mentees to create their "Individual Development Plan." The earlier I know what you think you would like to do with your life beyond Brandeis, the more time we have to think about how to better utilize your time in my group and at Brandeis.
  • Your physical and mental well-being are of utmost importance. Research is "hard work" and often frustrating. I encourage you to come up with strategies to deal with these challenges. I am available to help.
  • PhD students should expect a discussion about their IDPs once a semester, and an evaluation of where they are with respect to their respective degree completion.

The most important advice that I can give you is to enjoy what you are doing on the whole. Setbacks and challenges are par for the course when you have a clear sense of why you are doing what you are doing.

Other Resources