Lab Retreat 2020

Lize Delanghe & Eline Cauwenberghs

During the last few months, a lot has changed in our lab. Some of our beloved postdocs decided to change university scene and a lot of new PhD students started. Additionally, our PI, Sarah Lebeer, received an ERC Starting grant (yeey!). Therefore, we decided that it was time to sit together with a new group and recap previous research projects and brainstorm about new ones. After making a planning and buying food for the whole week, we left for Kalmthout to start our labretreat!

After unpacking and installing at what would be our new home for one week, we started our labretreat with a brainstorm for the very next paper we would like to write. Tuesday was our first full day in the house and so the official introduction of our lab retreat. Sarah made an introduction presentation with a timeline of the lab (including some amazing pictures of the first lab equipment) and an overview of the ERC project. In the afternoon, we discussed novel technologies that are not yet used in our lab but could be interesting for some projects, including FACS, FPLC, knock-out mutants, … After the technology meeting, every PhD student prepared some slides for their short-term goals to update the whole lab. This way, other lab members could give input and offer help for future projects. On Wednesday we talked about lab optimization. Running a lab smoothly is not an easy task, but it definitely goes better if everyone does their share of the work. We have much to thank to our lab technicians for this daily smooth operation. Finally, the last day was filled with bigger project brainstorms.

Next to all our very inspiring and successful meetings, we enjoyed a lot of different social activities. For diner, we found some volunteers coming up with delicious recipes to make a varied and healthy menu for the whole week. Cooking together turned out to be one of the best team building activities! All tasks were divided spontaneously: from chef to sous chef, serving drinks and snacks to even checking safety (cfr. managing to take hot quiches in silicone baking molds out of the oven). After diner, thanks to the two dishwashers in the house, we still had time to play pool, table football and a lot of board games, such as the hilarious and absurd game ‘Shit happens’. One night, we even built our own cinema in the living room, including self-made popcorn! On Wednesday afternoon, we went out for a ‘real’ teambuilding. First, we managed to escape out of four very difficult and exciting rooms. Good proof that our brains were still working very well after all the brainstorm sessions (or some of us are quite goodat cheating 😉). After solving all the puzzles and escaping, it was time to give our brian some rest. We went to a cozy tearoom to have some sweets and ended our day with a sporty walk at the ‘Kalmthoutse Heide’.