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App for the Whole Lab

Research labs are turning to messaging apps like Slack for group communication, Nature News reports.

The Broad Institute's Daniel MacArthur tells Nature News that email is "actually disastrous for group communication." But in Slack, the messages all come from lab members, which makes it easier to keep up.

Various labs rely on the tool in different ways, Nature News notes. For instance, it says that MacArthur's team set up a dedicated channel to prepare figures and fine-tune them for publication, while researchers at Ginkgo Bioworks have a channel devoted to monitoring instrumentation runs. Likewise, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Clair Sullivan's lab has seven Slack channels, including ones dedicated to its main two projects and one for general lab business, but also ones for its running team and random items of interest like a special on pizza.

The tool can also be helpful for catching new lab members up, Nature News says. Since it's searchable, new members can join a channel and look up what they might need to know.

It's also good for speedily communicating results. Sullivan tells Nature News that while she was on the way to a conference, she was still kept up to speed. "I could be in an airplane at 35,000 feet and people are giving me figures for my talk," she says.

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