Story of the lab name

When I started to think about the name for our new lab, I was first inspired by my colleague, Dr. Aaron Heller’s lab. Like Aaron, I wanted our name to help foster lab cohesion and morale. I also wanted a lab mascot. Selfishly, I wanted that mascot to be my Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog, Lucy. So, one lab name idea was the PYRR or Psychophysiology Yielding Reproducible Results lab. But not enough people know what a Great Pyrenees is, let alone that “pyr” is a common nickname used by parents of the breed. Besides, as my colleague Sarah Sant’ana said, Lucy could be the mascot regardless of the name. Another idea was the “OPUSES lab” standing for Open Psychophysiology for Understanding Stressors Emotions and Substances. This name had the benefit of a strong theme where staff could be considered “composers”, research articles “compositions”, psychophysiological equipment “instruments” (lab staff could list their favorite music, instruments, etc). I thought all of this would foster good “harmony” in the lab. But a researcher in our lab pointed out that most people simply do not know what an opus is. So, since it was 2020, I took to Twitter for help. I started with a poll with three choices. After 76 votes, there was a clear winner. But many people lamented that they had only reluctantly voted because all the acronym choices were just too long. Taking the acronym length issue to heart, I came up with “TS3 Lab” for Transparent Science of Stress and Substances Lab. I even quickly sketched out what I thought was a cool logo. But after the emergence of some other potentially viable suggestions including Dr. Sarah Sperry’s quite clever “OSNAP!” for Open-Science of Stress Neuroadaptations, Addition, and Psychophysiology, I decided one more poll was in order. About 23 hours into the 24 hour poll and ~50 votes, the winner seemed to be slightly trending towards TS3. That’s when things got interesting. In a Twitter comment, I had mentioned that I was surprised that fellow addiction researcher Dr. Kevin King’s suggestion of BRAD Lab for Bradford Reproducibility Affect and Drugs Lab was not faring better. Dr. King noticed this comment started a scientific community rally for BRAD Lab (little did I know that his own lab was similarly named RAD Lab). Soon another distant colleague, Dr. Josh Grubbs, put out a cogent and convincing appeal to his 15,000 Twitter followers. Suddenly several previous voters began commenting that they would like to change their vote to BRAD Lab. 128 votes later, the winner was clear. Did I mention that I have never met Dr. King or Grubbs in real life? So, as an ode to this demonstration of social psychology principles in use and somewhat questionable research practices, I decided to let our lab be named by a Twitter mob. My hope is that, over the years, my new mentees can appreciate the naming story as part of our lab lore. I know it will at least serve as a good example of questionable research practices for my statistics and experimental design course.