A lab supervisor is an individual who oversees employees, tests, and experiments in a laboratory. A professional might work in a scientific research lab, a clinical lab at a hospital, or an educational facility. Supervisors are generally responsible for maintaining cleanliness and safety at all times, and making sure that other lab personnel are performing their assigned duties correctly. Other tasks of a lab supervisor may include actively leading teams of researchers on projects, personally analyzing experimental results, and writing technical and professional reports.
Scientific laboratories found at research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and biotechnology firms depend on lab supervisors to ensure projects and trials are carried out appropriately. A lab supervisor might organize a research team and explain the fundamentals of a specific experiment. He or she is often responsible for hiring technicians and scientists, acquiring materials and equipment, and obtaining finances for projects. Many supervisors write detailed lab reports based on findings and either present them to their bosses or publish them in scientific journals.
A clinical lab supervisor usually works at a hospital, medical clinic, or specialty setting. He or she oversees the technicians who perform tests on sample tissue and bodily fluids to check for the presence of diseases. Some lab supervisors work directly with technicians to analyze specimens, while others assume more administrative duties such as setting schedules and ordering supplies. When results from laboratory tests are available, the lab supervisor often explains findings to doctors and other medical personnel.
Individuals who monitor students and researchers in university labs are often designated lab supervisors. These professionals explain safety rules and regulations and make sure labs are adequately stocked with supplies. Often, many different professors conduct independent research and teach out of the same laboratory, and it is up to the lab supervisor to collaborate with them to set schedules. A supervisor may be in charge of setting up experiments and cleaning the facility, or designating such responsibilities to his or her assistants.
The educational and training requirements to become a lab supervisor can vary between job setting and employer. Most scientific research supervisors hold advanced degrees in specialties, such as microbiology or chemistry. Clinical lab supervisors are generally expected to obtain bachelor's degrees in a health science or medical technology, though some hospitals prefer to hire individuals with master's or doctoral degrees. A university lab supervisor might be a professor, general faculty member, or a student in a work study or assistantship program.