Common Lab Member Expectations
Welcome to the Meyer Lab! The Meyer lab has three central goals:
- To do quality science
- To develop each lab member to become a successful scientist
- To maintain a collegial and intellectually stimulating environment
What you can expect from me
- I am committed to mentoring you now and in the future. I am committed to your education and training while in my lab, and to advising and guiding your career development. I will work to promote you and your work, and I am your advocate.
- I will set the scientific direction for the lab and provide the means to pursue those directions. This will include helping you to find a research topic, writing grants to fund our research, and maintaining the necessary university protocols for us to utilize the laboratory. Additionally, I will seek out collaborators for our work to further your opportunities.
- I will be available for regular meetings and will provide timely review of research. I will do my best to provide an open door policy and respond quickly to e-mails. Please be aware that there will be times when I will be unavailable due to other obligations. For abstracts and small data questions, I will generally be able to review in 1–3 days, for papers and thesis, I may need 2–3 weeks.
- I will provide a work environment that is intellectually stimulating, supportive, safe, and free from harassment. I take seriously any difficulties in this regard—if there are conflicts with another lab member (including your mentor), please inform me and I will work with you and the other lab member to find a resolution. I will strive to understand your unique situation and am open to your suggestions on how to improve your experience in the lab.
- I will encourage you to attend scientific meetings and make an effort to fund these activities. These meetings are important to showcase your work and for the networking opportunities as you pursue positions after your time in my lab ends.
What I expect from you
- Be respectful, tolerant of, and work collegially with laboratory colleagues: respect individual differences in values, personalities, and work styles.
- Data belongs to the lab, not to any one individual – as a result, you will be expected to leave your original notebooks and files when you leave the lab. In addition, there will be times when you will be asked to assist me in submitting grant applications to NIH/NSF/etc. This activity is essential to provide continuing support for the lab.
- You will work safely in the lab. Before beginning in the lab you must complete safety training.
- You will keep lab protocols up-to-date and accurate, while thoroughly documenting each experiment.
- When working in the labs of other investigators, be polite, neat, and gracious. Always follow their rules. If something breaks during your use, report it immediately to the appropriate person.
- Keep detailed lab notebooks. These are essential to turn your hard work into a finished paper. Your notes should allow your work to be reproduced (meaning they must be understandable by people other than yourself) and will help to assign credit for authorship. They are required by funding agencies and for any potential patents. At a minimum each experiment should clearly identify the date, purpose, what you did, the results, and your conclusions. Your bound notebook should establish links to electronic files and raw data. You are required to leave the originals behind when you leave the lab for others to build upon your work.
Nuts and Bolts
Hours and Vacation
I do not believe in tracking hours – instead, I am interested to see that you are productive. However, if I sense that this is being taken advantage of, the situation will be addressed. You will quickly recognize that biology is not a 9-5 proposition - night and weekend hours come with the territory. RA appointments do not include vacation/sick/holiday leave. However, to maintain your productivity, happiness, and well-being, I believe it is important to take time off. Therefore, you will each have two weeks of vacation. I ask that you discuss with me before a planned absence, so we can determine if it is an appropriate time for a vacation and if there are obligations during that period we have ample time to prepare. I expect you to satisfactorily complete necessary research duties prior to your planned departure.
Come prepared to discuss/present your recent research and next steps. A written agenda including what you have done and what you propose to do in the next week should be sent to me by 3 pm the day before the meeting. You must bring your lab notebook to each meeting. Group meetings will rotate between a variety of formats: research updates, research presentations, and journal clubs. Attendance is mandatory – active participation is essential!
Each year we will have an evaluation – this will help us to determine things that are going well or are areas for improvement. I will tell you if I am satisfied with your progress and help identify steps you can take to fix any concerns. This is also an opportunity for you to communicate to me what I can do to help you succeed. Tell me if you feel that you need more guidance, more independence, to meet more often, etc.
One of the most important tasks in science is disseminating your research through publications and presentations; therefore, authorship on these items is an important indicator to the outside world of your role. Authorship implies a significant contribution to a paper such as intellectual ideas that change the research or experimental contributions (just following instructions and not actively participating in the experimental design/interpretation will be acknowledged, but likely would not result in an authorship). While the order of authors varies by specific field, in general for bioengineering the first author is the student/post-doc who took the lead and wrote the paper, the last author is the PI, and the authors in between are in order of decreasing contribution. Failure to complete papers before leaving the lab may result in a junior member doing so as the 1st author in your place.
- Regular feedback from your talks (including lab meeting!) is essential to honing your presentation skills. Consider soliciting anonymous feedback with an online form that your audience can open with a QR code.
Adapted from documents by Pam Kreeger.