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I’m moving to a new university and setting up a lab. Unlike some US universities, the consensus is not to use your surname as the name of the lab but have a descriptive name (e.g., “this area” Lab). So, I’ll have to setup a new website under my new university domain, “brand” my lab (logo, etc.) and add some standard material (course material, people in the lab, recent publications and preprints, news, recruitment info, etc.).

Until now, most of this data I had in my own personal website NameSurname.com because my previous university did not provide for lab subdomains.

  • Do I keep both websites? Do I redirect my personal one to the lab or do I redirect the lab to my personal?
  • If I keep both of them, how do I differentiate the material? What goes on each?
  • What are the pros and cons of having a lab with a generic name and me as director or putting everything under my own name?
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    Folklore note: In some countries, lab with a person's name are dedicated to someone who had passed away. It took me some time to get used to the fact that in the US there are labs named after someone who is still alive (I'd be curious to know if there are other countries in which this happens). But it's still something that makes me uncomfortable: whatever the tradition, I would never ever name a lab after myself. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 26 at 20:12
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    It sounds like you are setting up this website because everyone else does it. If that is your reason, copy what your peers do. If you have some other purpose, that purpose should guide your branding. I do not think this question is answerable without a stated goal. – Anonymous Physicist Jan 26 at 21:17
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    Many people name labs after themselves. However, if your peers at your department do not do so, you probably should also avoid it. Personally, I find, unless you are such an established researcher that people know what you do by knowing your name, giving one's lab a content-oriented name is preferable. – Captain Emacs Jan 26 at 21:46
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    Have you asked the new university for advice on this? They might have (strong) preferences. – Buffy Jan 26 at 23:00
  • Naming a lab after oneself is a tad too narcissistic and self-aggrandizing for my taste. – user_of_math Jan 28 at 16:14
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Unless you are 100% that you will run this lab until you retire (and even then, plans can change), I do think it makes sense to keep both websites and decouple them a bit. You and the lab are two different entities, possibly with different relevant recent achievements to publicize, and in any case, presumably you’ll want to grant employees/students of your lab access to modify the lab website, but probably not to modify your personal website!

For your personal website, I’d include:

  • material for courses taught
  • personal research interests
  • your CV
  • link to your lab page
  • etc.

For the lab website, I’d include:

  • lab publications
  • lab projects
  • recruiting info
  • list of personnel and links to their personal pages (including yours, of course)
  • news/media coverage/events
  • etc.

As for pros & cons, I’d say the pros of distinguishing you vs the lab are:

  • enables personnel to feel more “ownership” in the lab, thinking of themselves as part of an organization rather than just as your employee
  • I actually think a lab named for what it does (e.g. “Climate Dynamics Lab”) is not “generic” but actually more transparent and meaningful for communicating what your lab group studies (at least until you become so famous that your last name becomes synonymous with your subfield)

Cons:

  • you’ll have to maintain two slightly different websites, so synchronization becomes a pain
| improve this answer | |
  • Regarding the pain of maintaining two websites, it's possible for someone else in the lab to maintain the lab page at some point in the future which reduces the risk that the two pages become too similar. – Daryl Bagley Mar 9 at 10:32

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