Science can be a truly inspiring process, particularly when working together in a diverse team of amazing people. To ensure we form such a team and an integrative lab community where everyone feels respected and at home, we have jointly formulated these guidelines and best practices. Combining our different experiences, we think the following points are particularly important to take to heart. But this document is a living document that we will adjust over time and which is in any case can only be a starting point to build a working lab community. What counts eventually are our daily actions to work together in an encouraging and respectful manner.
These guidelines were put together jointly by Jonas and many lab members. Last update August 2023. An editable version of this document is available for all lab members via our shared drive.
We foster an inclusive research environment
We believe that people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives strongly enrich our community and improve our scientific work. Our goal is to form such a community of scientists in which everyone feels welcomed, safe, and respected. We welcome people from all ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds. We welcome people of any sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
The academic world is well known for its failures to provide a diverse working environment that equally honors and supports different racial, cultural, and socio-economic groups. We acknowledge that many problems are systematic and require a major overhaul of the way academia, the education system, and society work. But we cannot just hope for bigger improvements. We need to start with our own actions, which start within our group and the life-science community on campus. Each member of our group is expected to build a community in which everyone feels integrated and at home. We encourage everyone in our lab to attend mentoring courses and consider the resources on diversity and science linked below. Be particularly aware of the detrimental power of microaggressions and the unintended bias our actions often carry without us realizing it. Further, acknowledge the possible challenges that come when people from different social and cultural backgrounds work together. Communicate if you see conflicts.
It should never happen, but if you are being harassed or notice that someone else is being harassed, please reach out immediately. Consider the report and mediation options offered by the biology department.
We keep life and work in a healthy balance
Nothing is more important than our health and well being, it is essential to keep life and work in a healthy balance. This statement is easier said than done for many of us as we work very hard on the scientific projects we are so passionate about. So make sure you find good ways to recharge and prevent extensive work sessions without sufficient breaks. Jonas does not expect you to work on weekends and evenings, or promptly reply to slack or email messages. Consider putting your apps into offline mode if helpful. Talk with Jonas if you think you need to improve your life work balance or feel overwhelmed by your scientific projects. Stanford also provides further ressources you might find helpful.
We respect the intellectual work of other lab members
An open exchange of ideas between lab members is essentialto accomplish good science. For this to work it is key that every member acknowledges the intellectual contribution of all other lab members. This is particularly true in collaborations in which several people work together on the same project. Such collaborative projects can be most rewarding and fun, but they also come with additional challenges: Who contributed with which idea? Who is on which author position? Let’s do our best to actively discuss these and other questions which emerge. Usually there are solutions which work well for everyone, but it is important to communicate challenges and identify solutions. We discuss openly but always respect our co-scientists Innovative science requires the vivid exchange of ideas and their honest assessment. We thus aim for an open discussion atmospheres in which ideas can be openly raised and challenged. However, challanges always need to foot on scientific argument and while we might disagree with the argument of our lab collegues, we always respect them as scientists. We particularly acknowledge in this context the challenges which come with the hierarchical organization of research groups and the very different level of experience different members bring with them.
Safety is of highest priority – always! We are operating a biology lab up to biosafety level 2 (BSL 2). While most of the chemicals and strains are not extremely dangerous or toxic, all chemicals become a health hazard in large amounts and some chemicals we use are a serious health hazard even in smaller amounts. Training requirements and precautous measures are there for a reason and it is essential that we follow these safety procedures. Particularly: Always communicate if you have doubts about safety. Be encouraged to reach out to the responsible safety officers if you want to have external feedback or if your concerns are not properly addressed by Jonas and other lab members. Be particularly cautious with corrosives and toxic chemicals. For our more routine protocols this includes the handling of chloroform, trizol, mercaptoethanole. Start experiments only after you have obtained the required training and safety introduction. Handle BSL2 and use our anaerobic hood room only after you have obtained the required training and introduction to our setup. We jointly contribute to keep the lab well-maintained To be able to work smoothly in a wet lab, many small things have to work before experiments can be started and and scientific discoveries can be made; be it a sufficient stock of chemicals, the availability of consumables, a properly maintained piece of research equipment, or the proper handling of waste. While taking care of these steps is typically not much work, it needs to be done and it is important that every member contributes with their fair share. Communication is key to avoid conflicts. Everyone performing web-lab experiments is also required to actively participate in the lab cleaning day which we schedule at least once a year.
We respect the experimental workspace of other lab members
A major source of frustration in the lab can be the unauthorized usage of personal bench space, chemical stocks, strains or other material. Let us thus formulate a strict rule: Personal chemical stocks, assigned bench spaces, personal pipettes of a lab member must not be used by others without prior permission. When you ask other lab member, they are usually happy to assist you and provide the corresponding ressources, but it is crucial to ask first. The flip side of this rule is that you everyone is allowed to treat their own bench areas as they see fit as long provided all safety requirements are fullowed. But please help to keep the common bench areas clean and take good care of the common pipettes (as those within the anaerobic tents & room W321). We promote open science We promote open science and aim to make our manuscripts and data openly available. We particularly promote the use of appropriate preprint servers. New modeling and analysis tools as well as major experimental data should be made available via openly accessible digital platforms such as GitHub or appropriate data repositories. We have developed already approaches to best store raw data for many of our experimental pipelines. Please consider our Wiki ressources (private lab Github) and ask members with more experience.