Lab values and expectations

This document is updated yearly based on lab discussions – last group update fall 2022

Lab values

Our lab believes that people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives enrich our lab community and the science that we do. We further recognize that people of color, and in particular Black, Indigenous, and Latinx scientists, face immense structural racism in academic settings on top of everyday racism that together form formidable barriers to their success. Our lab is committed to being a strong ally to members of our academic community facing these challenges, to educating ourselves, and to constantly re-evaluating our role in systemic racism. We strive to use this commitment and learning to build a welcoming and supportive lab environment for all current and prospective lab members. In doing so, we want to recognize the challenges faced by other minorities in STEM, including LGBTQ+ scientists and scientists with disabilities, who are often implicitly or explicitly excluded in academic spaces.

A core value of our lab group is that the lab is a collaborative and supportive place. Research is as challenging as it is rewarding and it is important that the lab be an environment where we can support each other. We are committed to the core values of supporting and respecting each other as colleagues, being good and caring community members, and sharing group responsibilities (e.g. fish feeding and other lab tasks). We also believe that everyone in the lab should work on projects that they’re excited about and do their best to nurture their well-being. Although it can be daunting, we encourage all lab members reach out for help with challenges inside and outside of lab.

Our lab is committed to transparent scientific practices and doing our research rigorously, thoughtfully, and carefully. It is essential that we do our work in a way that is well-documented so that results and experiments can be easily replicated. We will make code, data, and analysis workflows publicly available and be responsible members of the larger scientific community.

Expectations and responsibilities for all lab members

Everyone: The core responsibility of everyone in our lab group is to support your labmates and yourself. We are a community of people first and scientists second, nothing is more important than your health and well-being. Prioritizing your mental health is critical. There is a mental health crisis among early-career academics, particularly among graduate students. This is in no small part because academia often promotes unhealthy mental load, hypercompetitiveness, and work-life imbalance. We are here to support each other through the very real ups and downs of life inside and outside of academia.

Balance between work and outside work life is a key challenge for many in academia. We are here because we are passionate about science and everyone needs to find the work style that is most productive for them. Taking time to recharge is crucial. I do not expect you to work on weekends, evenings, or during vacations, including replying to my e-mails or slack messages. We acknowledge that different people have different ways that they work most productively and different methods for recharging. We expect that each person in lab will find the best balance and work schedule for them.

Expectations for the PI: My goal is to support you in your scientific career in any way possible. I will meet with you regularly to discuss your work. I will give you feedback on project ideas, presentations, posters, job applications, fellowship applications, papers, etc. I will be available on a daily basis on slack and e-mail (typically only 9-5 because family time is important to me too), and usually in person. I will support your career development and help you prepare for the next stage of your career. If I don’t know much about the field you are interested in (i.e. industry, data science), I will get you in contact with someone who does. It is also my responsibility to fund the lab and make sure advancing your career is not a financial burden to you. In particular, you are not expected to pay for society memberships, living (food, lodging, etc) or travel costs for field work or scientific conferences (see details in the lab handbook). In addition, as a member of the lab you can expect project support including support on molecular biology and fish support from our amazing staff scientists. If you are bringing a new system to the lab please talk to me to figure out logistics of supporting your projects.

Expectations for postdocs: Lead key projects in the lab while also developing independent projects and new skills that you can take with you. Work with Molly to plan your project support. Help train and mentor students in the lab. Present your work in the department, at conferences, and in other labs. Apply for fellowships and grants that you are eligible for, this will help on the job market! Apply for jobs when you’re ready, it’s a good idea to talk with your mentors about when this is and will be dependent on your specific career goals. If you have independent funding, plan to talk to Molly about your plans about one year before your funding ends. If you’re considering other career paths let me know so that I can help. Be a source of knowledge and expertise in the lab.

Expectations for graduate students: Work with Molly to develop your dissertation research, which should result in at least three papers/chapters that address important questions in evolutionary biology. Make a plan with Molly for supporting your projects. Collaborate with graduate students and postdocs on projects to gain skills and expertise. Help mentor undergraduate students and new graduate students in the lab. Fulfill your departmental requirements for teaching and courses but make sure to be protective of your time. Keep me up to date on your plans for committee meetings and important events like the first year paper, first year talk, qualifying exams and dissertation deadlines. Think about what you want from your career and communicate that to me, especially as your plans evolve. Ask for help when you need it.

Expectations for lab managers and technicians: Work to move forward research projects in the lab and fish room. Assist with data collection, experimental design and analysis including protocol development and collaborate with grad students and postdocs on projects. Help new lab members get trained and started in the lab and fish room. Manage the fish room and animal care protocols. Help to ensure that the lab and fish room are well-stocked and organized. It isn’t unusual to feel like you have too much to do in a week with so many demands on your time but you should not work more than you regular scheduled hours (usually 40hr/week). If you feel like you’re getting bogged down with too many responsibilities please let me know; there are always more tasks than it is possible to do in a week so talk to me if you aren’t sure what to prioritize. Whether you are interested in being a research assistant long-term or in moving on to other positions/grad school, keep me up to date so I can be helpful.

Expectations for undergraduate researchers: Work closely with graduate student and postdoc mentors to move projects ahead, learn skill sets you are interested in and develop your career goals. Establish a schedule with them for your time and priorities in lab. Engage with lab meetings and journal clubs. Join project group meetings and schedule quarterly meetings with me to discuss your interests and projects.