Strategies for success in industrial and government research labs
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Strategies for Success in Industrial and Government Research Labs. Kathleen Fisher AT&T Labs Research Tina Eliassi-Rad Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Marina Thottan Bell Laboratories. Kathleen Fisher: Who am I?. PhD from Stanford in 1996.

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Strategies for Success in Industrial and Government Research Labs

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Strategies for success in industrial and government research labs

Strategies for Success in Industrial and Government Research Labs

Kathleen Fisher

AT&T Labs Research

Tina Eliassi-Rad

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Marina Thottan

Bell Laboratories


Kathleen fisher who am i

Kathleen Fisher: Who am I?

  • PhD from Stanford in 1996.

  • Researcher at AT&T Labs Research. My research focuses on domain-specific languages to facilitate programming with massive data sets.

  • SIGPLAN Vice Chair

  • CRA-W Board member

  • Program chair for ICFP 2005, editor of JFP, frequent program committee member.


How do i define success

How do I define success?

  • Having choices: I get to do what I want.

    • Work on problems I choose

    • Have necessary resources

  • Recognized at AT&T as doing well.

  • Recognized by my research community as doing well.


Strategies for success

Strategies for success

  • Define your goals. Think strategically.

  • Find a mentor.

  • Understand how evaluation works at your institution.

  • Network at your institution.

  • Network in your research community.

  • Leverage strength of institution.

  • Follow through on commitments.

    • Corollary: Say ‘No’!

  • Use other people’s time effectively.

  • Speak up!


Who i am and where i work

Who I am and where I work

  • Tina Eliassi-Rad

    • Areas of specialty: artificial intelligence, machine learning, knowledge discovery and data mining

    • Computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since 2001

    • PhD in Computer Sciences, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001

    • MS in Computer Science, Univ. of Illinois-Urbana, 1995

    • BS in Computer Sciences, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, 1993

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    • DoE National Security Lab

    • 50 miles southeast of San Francisco

    • $1.2B yearly budget

    • Over 8000 employees

    • One square mile

    • Managed by University of California


What are the characteristics of success

What are the characteristics of success?

  • Personal

    • Passion and vision

    • Time management

    • Hard work

  • Research

    • Impact of work (peer-reviewed publications, invited contributions and presentations, # of citations, …)

    • Service (program, organizing, and academic committees, referee for journals, funding and mentoring panels, …)

    • Networking

  • Organizational

    • Perseverance w.r.t. passion and vision

    • Contributions to organization’s mission

    • Selective service (planning and hiring committees, …)

    • Networking and managing change (new group and project leaders, ...)


What does it take to succeed at a national lab

What does it take to succeed at a national lab?

  • Learn to work in an interdisciplinary environment

    • Lawrence Livermore is a physics lab!

  • Be aware of the ever-changing politics and bureaucratic constraints; find ways to manage them

  • Persevere and make sure your vision is relevant to the lab’s mission

  • Build a strong and supportive network

    • Find a mentor

  • Time management

    • Learn to say no


Marina thottan my story

Marina Thottan: My Story

  • Graduated Ph.D in 2000

  • MTS at Bell Labs from 2000

  • First few months

    • New management and chaos

  • Significant early success

    • Definition of my first project

    • Finding resources

    • Creating a collaborative environment


Definition of success

Definition of Success

  • Success has 3 Components

  • Institutional

    • Provide value to the company

    • Internal visibility

    • External visibility

    • Team work

  • Academic

    • External visibility

  • Personal

    • Fulfillment of passion

    • Happy family life


Strategies for success1

Professional Characteristics / Strategy

Have a clear vision of your research goals

Use the industrial setting to identify relevant high impact problems

Take the initiative to clearly define problems and persevere (working and marketing)

Know the rules

Flexible to adapt to changing work environment

Build collaborations with peers within and outside your own center

Publish on a regular basis (a couple of publications per year)

Give internal talks and talks at universities on a regular basis

Get involved with program committees

Gain the respect of your peers and management

Personal Characteristics / Strategy

Prioritize your works items and avoid urgency paradigm

Avoid excessive emotional attachment to your projects

Diplomatic, avoid complaining and negativity

Use direct communication and speak up when you have an opinion

Avoid (the best you can) commitments that are not consistent with your research goals

Be resourceful

Network with colleagues both within and outside the company

Strategies for Success


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