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Lab Expectations

Lab Expectations

Each lab member should read the “Modest Advice” by Stearns, S. and Huey, R. (1987) Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 68, 145-153 (“Some modest advice for graduate students”). It can also be found at

This reference does not mean that I agree with the “Modest advice” in all aspects but, overall, it’s a useful guide from someone with considerable experience in the scientific system (to say the least). Apart from this general advice which, in my view, is also useful for post-docs and undergraduates in certain aspects, there are the following, more formal, expectations and rules:


I expect lab members to contribute to a collegial and productive environment that supports learning and research. Everyone in lab should feel welcomed and appreciated for their contribution. Racist, sexist, or other inappropriate comments or behavior will not be tolerated. 

Safety and Health

Lab members are expected to adhere to lab safety rules at all times. Also, do not come to work sick or if you think you are contagious. Stay home and rest and make arrangements for any responsibilities to be handled by co-workers. This serves your health and prevents others from getting sick. Wear a mask if you need to come to the lab for some reason despite being sick.

Work hours and holidays

Everyone has different levels of efficiency and experience. Also, each individual person goes through phases of more and less intense work based on deadlines and commitments. Don’t worry about your labmates’ schedules. Work hours are flexible. At the same time, being around lab members, departmental colleagues, and university guests will enable the interactions and relationship building critical to science. So try to be around 9-5, M-F to allow for proper exchange. It is not mandatory, though. You are also not expected to work more than ~39 hours per week. However, reading the news or social media is not work. Grabbing a coffee as the first thing in the morning after you got to work is also kind of strange (unless you ran out of coffee at home). That said, you will get out of your career what you put in to it. 

Let me or the secretary know if you will be out of the lab for a full day or more one week in advance and discuss with me well in advance your annual leave/holidays. Use the group calendar to inform your colleagues.

Standing Commitments

Attendance at the monthly lab meeting (“MAB”) is expected.  If you are third-party funded, attendance at grant meetings and conference calls is expected.  If you are presenting a paper or manuscript in lab meeting, you must inform the group about the content two working days in advance of the presentation date so that people have a chance to prepare. It is expected from every lab member that she/he prepares for the MAB by reading at least the abstract of the papers which are circulated in advance. Bachelor and Master students should give three talks during their time in the group: an introductory talk about their topic, a talk about a paper which influenced their scientific thinking and which they would like to discuss with the group, and a final talk in which they report about the outcome of their thesis.


Everyone is encouraged to attend at least one conference a year. Lab members must make a good faith effort to obtain partial to full costs of meeting and travel expenses. This includes applying for departmental, university, and society travel grants; volunteering at the conference; and sharing rooms. Whenever possible, I will help fund attendance at one conference per year on the condition that you present a talk. Abstracts must be reviewed by myself and all coauthors at least two weeks prior to the submission deadline. First practice talks should be given to the lab two weeks prior to the conference. Second practice talks will be presented to the lab one week prior to the conference.  Plan accordingly.


I believe there is a distinction between being collegial and authorship. Helping lab or department colleagues learn new skills, pitching in on lab work when someone is in the weeds, or chatting through a problem will not necessitate authorship. These are collegial activities.

I follow the IJME rules for authorship:

1- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

2- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

3- Final approval of the version to be published; AND

4- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Projects evolve over time; thus, authorship inclusion and author order can be re-evaluated.

Grant Writing

Lab members should actively seek out and apply for grants and fellowships.  No amount is too small.  If you have a big idea that needs big funding, let’s discuss, then form a grant writing strategy.

Own Your Mistakes

Everyone, including myself, will make mistakes in lab. Be honest and forthright when you have made a mistake and report to the responsible person if you damage anything.