In the Armani lab, we have several lab traditions and operating philosophies. Some are more well-established (lab parties, celebratory envelopes and outreach activities) than others (group olympics). We've tried to explain some of these events below, pulling the curtain back on the lab (slightly). To keep lab alums in contact and up to date, pictures of most events are posted on our facebook and twitter pages, though not every event is announced/posted.
Outreach Activities: Individual group members in the lab as well as the lab (en masse) volunteer in numerous activities in the scientific community. For example, judging science fairs, giving lab tours and speaking at middle/high schools. These activities are strongly encouraged. Additionally, starting in 2015, the lab began organzing and hosting a Los Angeles-wide Lasers for Ladies day.
Lab Parties: One of the great things about LA is the fabulous weather. We typically have several (winter, fall and spring) outdoor parties a year at Prof. Armani's house (with the help of a fire pit in the winter). Additionally, whenever anyone defends their thesis, Prof. Armani takes everyone out to dinner.
Celebratory envelopes: As a way to reward students for successfully completing and publishing their research, Prof. Armani created the "Envelope Reward Board". Whenever someone publishes a paper, the first author pulls an envelope from the board. The envelopes contain prizes for the entire group. Thus far, group coffee mugs, T-shirts, and coffee travel mugs have been won in addition to numerous group lunches and gift cards.
Group Olympics: Started in 2012, we have had 2 group olympics thus far. During this event/all-day party, the lab is divided into teams of 4-6 group members and/or significant others. Events included things like hula-hoop, limbo, and balloon toss.
NorCal Lab Reunion: Not surprisingly, a large percentage of lab alums live in or near San Francisco (Silicon Valley), and a standard conference that the group attends every February is SPIE Photonics West (also in San Fran). Therefore, every Feb is the Northern California (NorCal) Armani Lab reunion. This event brings together current and past group members.