Some of you know my lab space is unusual. We have a sofa in the lab, along with crepe paper streamers and dangling jellyfish and fish over our map/planning table. There is usually a dog in the lab. There might be beer somewhere nearby.

Much of our work is on computer, so there is lots of space for computer work, scope work, jars for tissue handling and specimen curation. It doesn't look like a "genetics" lab beyond the row of pipettors and a couple of centrifuges, a few beat-up thermal cyclers. It is a place where biology happens, for sure.

One of the most important things to me about a lab is that it is a place where we interact. That's why some of the shelving came down a few years ago, so we could see each other and talk more effectively. So we could get drawn into each others' problems, and victories. So we could make each other better biologists, better scientists.

A great example of this has been the increased presence of Bud Freeman in the lab. Really, its our lab now. Some days we talk seastars; some days we talk bass. Some days we talk about whatever the students want to talk about, or we geek out about iPhone technology and new apps. But the shared space makes us better scientists, lets us ask questions and take things a little bit more slowly, give everybody time to think about a problem. I appreciate that immensely.

Below is a rare photo of Bud and I, not in the field, not in the lab, astoundingly both wearing jackets and shirts with buttons. We were at the State Botanical Gardens to celebrate the retirement of Jim Porter, a great night to be thinking about great colleagues.