Respect, individualism, diversity and excellence in research, these are the core tenants of our group. Our group believes that each and every member of our lab brings something unique and important to the team. Each member’s unique life experience and education bring a special and indispensable perspective to the group. A diverse team of people with rich experiences creates outstanding research. My desire is to create a place where we welcome diversity of thought, allow each person's unique voice to be heard, and allow input from others in a constructive manner. Above all, respect for each other and ourselves is fundamental to maintaining this environment, the values and policies stated below are key to achieving the lab this lab culture and reach our collective goalsRespect, individualism, diversity and excellence in research, these are the core tenants of our group. Our group believes that each and every member of our lab brings something unique and important to the team. Each member’s unique life experience and education bring a special and indispensable perspective to the group. A diverse team of people with rich experiences creates outstanding research. My desire is to create a place where we welcome diversity of thought, allow each person's unique voice to be heard, and allow input from others in a constructive manner. Above all, respect for each other and ourselves is fundamental to maintaining this environment, the values and policies stated below are key to achieving the lab this lab culture and reach our collective goals.
For the fresh PhD students, the early stages of your PhD should revolve around questions! I expect you to be diligent in crafting ideas and communicating with other lab members and with me. While your projects are developing and classes are in full swing, it is also a good time to get your feet wet with common laboratory techniques by assisting the ongoing projects in our lab. I understand the PhD program is challenging – don’t be afraid to lean on the senior lab members who have been there before (including myself).
For the senior PhD students, you will be expected to lead one or two projects, mentor new PhD students, and begin executing your own project in a more independent fashion as you prepare to write your own papers and thesis. You may also be asked to assist with the grant application assembly. Consider applying for external funding if possible – I will gladly assist!
This stage is about achieving independence and working towards the next stage of your careers. I will readily help with writing postdoctoral fellowship applications, developing project ideas, including independent projects that can be taken with the postdoc, and big-picture project strategies and design. Postdocs are expected to act independently when writing and submitting manuscripts, readily mentor other lab members, and act as leaders within the lab. Depending on your career preferences, you may be more or less involved in grant applications as a key component of your own training.
Undergraduates and High School Students
The lab is a space for undergraduates and high school students to gain training in both laboratory techniques as well as scientific thinking through working with a graduate or postdoc mentor. You are expected to learn and make corrections when given feedback, and work towards participation in research symposium by preparing posters and presentations.
It is the responsibility of all lab members to cultivate a collegial, kind, and accessible atmosphere in which each of us can learn and grow. Be kind to each other, actively participate in discussions or offer help.
Approachability and patience in communication
When discussing your research, remember to start speaking at a basic level. This is an interdisciplinary group, members of the lab come from different fields and backgrounds, so you shouldn’t assume that your lab members understand the fundamental concepts in your projects. To this end, be kind when someone asks you a question or for help, even if the answer seems obvious to you. Please be aware that your reactions can impact somebody’s self-esteem, confidence, and willingness to ask for help again. From this recognition and appreciation for our diversity of scientific and personal backgrounds, you should also draw grace and patience for working through misunderstandings. Everyone in the lab is trying to do their best and help one another as much as possible.
Asking for, receiving, and giving help
We are a team, you are not alone. If you are struggling with a particular technique or concept, it is far preferable to ask another lab member (with experience in this area) for help than working on your own. To this end, consider asking newer or less experienced lab members to help on a project that is relevant to their skills. They probably have not yet had many collaboration opportunities, and older lab members may already have their hands full elsewhere.
Fellowship and commiseration
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your lab member’s achievements, and don’t be afraid to share yours with the lab. They will be excited with/for you! When you have a disappointing experimental result or receive a “rejection” on an application or manuscript, remember that your lab mates understand what you’re feeling, and can be a great source of empathy and advice.
Diversity & Inclusion
Lab members are expected to intentionally, deliberately, and proactively include all lab members at all times. Lab members should recognize and appreciate the diversity of scientific and personal backgrounds of other lab mates. Lab members are expected to have patience and understanding for different cultures and backgrounds and have an attitude of forgiveness towards misunderstandings or conflict. Diversity makes our lab stronger. In this lab, everyone has something to contribute and something to learn. In cases of lab gatherings, it is expected that the invitation be extended to all lab members.
Lab members are expected to act respectfully towards others at all times. Lab members shall not discriminate or use any behavior or language that might be considered discriminatory against anyone for any reason. This includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of sex, color, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age. Our lab believes that kindness matters and lab members are expected to act accordingly.
All lab members are required to keep detailed methods, protocols, and experimental data. This may be in a written lab notebook or directly stored in an eNotebook. In either case, digital versions of all notes, data, and files must be made available to future lab members. Reproducibility is imperative to good science, and a detailed lab notebook can save a future lab member months or years of effort in working to repeat your results. That aside, keeping careful record of your experiments will also save you time in the long run. Excellent and detailed recording habits also help should you have an idea or finding that ultimately leads to a patent.
The methods section of papers and thesis documents can be critical for reproducibility/repeatability of experiments and can impact a lab’s credibility if results are called into question. Therefore, lab members should make every effort to carefully record procedures and to provide complete and thorough methods sections in their writing.
Develop a file system early on and keep all raw data files in a separate folder (don’t save over them!). This will save you the headache of having to sift through years of data later on when you’re about to write a manuscript. No one should have to guess at which experiment goes with which result.
Negative results are just as important as positive results — and can end up saving time and resources for future researchers. To that end, you are required to include all results (including negative ones) as well as detailed notes on failed procedures and methods. Don't hesitate to report the negative results in our group meetings, your lab mates and I will help you analyze the causes and propose solutions.
Data Manipulation and Academic Misconduct
Any form of data manipulation will NOT be tolerated and can ultimately result in the reporting of the violation to the TTU Vice President of Research and/or Provost, and ultimately in expulsion of a student or termination of employment or fellowship. If you believe that someone else is manipulating data, please come directly to me to alert me of the concerns. Note that this process applies to all other modes of academic misconduct, including plagiarism and malicious interference of experiments.
Mental & Physical Wellbeing
The university is a stressful place full of high expectations, but remember that you are here first and foremost to learn. Your growth and development are paramount. Our lab should be a place where people want to be! Be proactive with help and on the lookout for your lab mates’ wellbeing. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
One common cause of anxiety stems from comparing yourself to others.
Productivity is a better metric than hours in the lab/desk! That being said, please remember that different disciplines have different metrics for productivity and that at the end of the day, I will judge your tenure here more by what you learned and how you grew than by what or where you published. Please make space for your mental and physical wellbeing. Protect yourself and others by staying home when you are sick.
Disclaimer: Text and ideas in places borrow heavily from Hammond Lab.