Is it right to use 'X is a new research topic of interest to our lab' to say that the lab has not done research on X before?

I want to convey:

1.The lab only focused on research topic 'Y'(e.g. proteins) in the past. In the future, 'Y' will still be the focus, even though 'X' will be the secondary focus.

2.The lab lacked established biological experimental conditions for conducting research on topic 'X' (e.g. miRNA) two years ago, since topic X belongs to different field. I was the first student to conduct research on topic X.

I am a student, not the PI. I want to describe the experimental conditions when I began the project in PS for PhD application. I started from scratch and encountered many difficulties.

(I hope my edits would make the problem more clear, thank you! )

Besides, Is there a more polite way to say 'our lab'? I mean the lab I belong to.

  • 3
    Could you add more information about where you want to put this sentence, i.e. who is the intended reader? There are no errors in the sentence, but I think you are more interested in false implications or assumptions based on your sentence.
    – Ian
    Oct 17, 2016 at 7:36
  • 1
    Vote to close as "unclear what you're asking".
    – Nobody
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:01
  • I can't seem to agree completely with any answer below. But still, I think there are accepted lines on when a topic is new or not. In my understanding, this topic is now a focus in the lab, because the experimental conditions are available. So, in that case it is a new topic of interest, as there are not publications yet (if that's what you want to justify). If the PI of the lab was never interested in that topic, regardless the available conditions, then you cannot say it's a new topic. But please explain where you plan to use this sentence.
    – BioGeo
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:53
  • @George I added more information. Would you give me some suggestions? Thank you in advance.
    – Rasituwrt
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:33
  • @Rasituwrt I would say it depends on where you want to use it. In a motivation letter where you state your background, I would probably say something like "When the lab started working on this method, I was the first student to develop the workflow". If you are talking to someone, the way you say it doesn't sound bad.
    – BioGeo
    Oct 18, 2016 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


I have angst about writing this answer. When you say our lab, it potentially sounds like you are speaking for the lab in an official context and taking an ownership stake in the lab. Depending on your role, I am not sure you can talk about the lab as being yours. I am also not sure you cannot, and hence the angst.

As a PI of a lab, I have research interests that the lab has never followed through on due to a variety of reasons including a lack of funding and expertise. I would be a little upset if a student/post doc implied the lab was not interested in a topic just because the lab didn't have the expertise or equipment to do any research on the topic. Similarly, I would be a little upset if a student post doc implied that their personal interest automatically becomes an interest of the lab.

  • I think the question needs some clarification, as I don't think the student or post doc wants their personal interest to become a lab interest. From a different perspective, post docs, and the different levels of professors are all accomplished (in different levels) researchers. There are post docs who are PIs in projects (meaning they got the grant for it), and sometimes post docs are allowed to persue their own interests (as they are also to a degree accomplished scientists). So, don't take it personally :)
    – BioGeo
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:55
  • @George sort of. I think that aspect of ambiguity is why the question is important. If the OP realized all the ways the statement could be interpreted, then there would be no need for the question. To me the question is: can this relatively simple statement be interpreted in a way I do not intend.
    – StrongBad
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:00
  • Also, I'm not sure the aim is to take ownership. My or our lab often means belonging... It's a nicer way to express the lab you are part of, rather than saying "in the lab of the PI".
    – BioGeo
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:02
  • Yes, indeed. It needs clarification.
    – BioGeo
    Oct 17, 2016 at 16:03
  • @StrongBad Thank you very much for the reminder. Is there a more polite way to say 'our lab'? I mean the lab I belong to.
    – Rasituwrt
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:30

No, it would be a lie. In fact, you state that X is actually not a research topic of the lab nor has it ever been. You could say that X will be a new topic, if there are plausible plans about it. This would suggest the right thing about the present and the past.

  • 3
    It seems to me that it's only a lie if you take an extremely pedantic reading of the sentence. If I began researching X this morning, then, this afternoon, it would take an exercise in extreme nitpicking to claim that the statement "X is a new research topic of interest to me" is a lie.
    – Ian_Fin
    Oct 17, 2016 at 14:54
  • "The lab only focused on another research topic in the past" means that even this morning, research on the new topic has not been done. Which makes some sense, since the necessary equipment isn't present, too. So we talk about a future topic, not a new one. Oct 17, 2016 at 15:12

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