Lab Manual

The lab philosophy can be summarized in the following:

"To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. " Micah 6:8

The following are three major principles in the lab. They come in priority. When in conflicts, follows the one with a higher order. When joining the lab, please check out this manual and also feel free to ask Frank if there is any question.

  • 1. Integrity

Adhere to the best research integrity (check this out). Fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism of any kinds are entirely unacceptable.

If we make a mistake, we should definitely disclose it even if the paper is being written up, submitted, or accepted. We admit and expose our mistakes, and then we correct them and move on.

Do things right and do the right things. Be honest and upfront. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’

  • 2. Care and support each other

If you’re struggling, tell someone. The lab looks out for the well-being of all its members.

We works as a team. Senior lab members (including Frank) will be responsible for teaching junior lab members and make sure that they know what to do. On the other hand, junior lab members should be supportive to senior lab members.

If there is any tension or hostility in the lab, something has to be done immediately. Disrespect or rudeness will not be tolerated in the lab. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the person in question, tell Frank.

  • 3. Work ethics

Lab members should be responsible to duties and proactive in research activities. If there is any difficulties or problem completing the to-do list, inform Frank right away and do not wait until the next meeting.

The lab members should attend lab meeting at high priority. The FT lab has a weekly lab meetings in the Friday afternoon. It starts with a general 10-minute meeting to touch base with lab logistics, followed by individual meetings to talk about methods, statistical analyses, new papers, and career development. Lab members are also expected to attend every meeting (obviously, illnesses, doctor appointments, family issues, etc are a valid reason for missing a meeting). In each lab meeting, everyone will be assigned a to-do list, and Frank will check the list again in the next meeting.

Lab member are recommended NOT to come or work on weekends and holidays or stay late at night unless needed due to paper or grant deadline.

  • Breaking any of the above principles will receive a verbal reminder or written warning depending on the severity. Repeated violations will lead to further resolution steps, such as termination of contract or funding support.

The above lab manual is inspired by several others (see 1, 2, 3).

General Policies

Day off and vacation

Stay home if you are sick and let Frank know to arrange someone to take over lab duties. If there is a need to take extra day off due to personal reasons, events, family obligation, please discuss with Frank.

Post-doc and PhD students are encouraged to have their official time off according to the University and Departmental regulations. The exact date should be discussed with Frank and lab members with overlapping duties at least one month earlier. For students traveling during the semester, please also inform Frank the travel plan.

Visiting scholars and scientists will have their own schedule, and part-time members will need only to fulfill the designated duty.

PI Office Hours

In addition to weekly meetings, and occasionally dropping by the lab, you can find Frank in his office. His door will be open if he is in the office; if he is, feel free to ask for a chat. He will always say yes, though sometimes he can only spare a couple of minutes. If his door is closed, assume that Frank is either gone, in a meeting in her office, or does not want to be disturbed – so please send a message (e-mail) rather than knocking.

Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation are extremely important for getting new positions and grants. You can count on Frank to write you a letter if you have been in the lab at least one year (it’s hard to really know someone if they have only been around for a few months). Exceptions can be made if students or post-docs are applying for fellowships shortly after starting in the lab.

If you need a letter, notify Frank as soon as possible with the deadline, your CV, and any relevant instructions for the content of the letter. If the letter is for a grant, also include your specific aims. In some cases (especially if short notice is given), you may also be asked to submit a draft of a letter, which will be modified based on Frank's experience with you and anything else that has to be added. This will ensure that the letter contains all the information you need, and that it is submitted on time.

Expectations and Responsibilities

Principal Investigator

  • Support your career development by introducing you to other researchers in the field, promoting your work at talks, writing recommendation letters for you, and letting you attend conferences as often as finances permit. If there is a better opportunities elsewhere, I will encourage you to pursue it for your career development instead of keeping you in the lab.

  • Care for your emotional and physical well-being

  • Give you feedback on a timely basis, including feedback on project ideas, conference posters, talks, manuscripts, figures, grants

  • Be available in person and via e-mail on a regular basis, including regular meetings to discuss your research (and anything else you’d like to discuss)

  • Give my perspective on where the lab is going, where the field is going, and tips about surviving and thriving in academia


  • Develop your own independent line of research

  • Help train and mentor students in the lab when they need it – either because they ask, or because I ask you to

  • Present your work at departmental events, at other labs (if invited), and at conferences

  • Apply for grants (e.g., NRSA, K99). Though I will only hire you if I can support you for at least one year, it’s in your best interest to get experience writing grants – and if you get them, you’ll be helping out the entire lab as well as yourself (because you’ll free up funds previously allocated to you)

  • Challenge me when I’m wrong or when your opinion is different, and treat the rest of the lab to your unique expertise

Graduate Student

  • Develop your dissertation research. Your dissertation should have at least 3 substantial experiments/subjects that answer a big-picture question that you have. Much of your work has to be done independently, but remember that others in lab are there to help you when you need it

  • Present your work at departmental events, at other labs (if invited), and at conferences

  • Think about what you want for your career (academia – research or teaching, industry, science writing, something else), and talk to Frank about it to make sure you’re getting the training you need for that career

  • Make sure you meet all departmental deadlines (e.g., for your exams and thesis) -- and make sure Frank is aware of them!

  • Prioritize time for research. Coursework and TA are important, but ultimately your research gets you your PhD and prepares you for the next stage of your career

Visiting Scholars/Students

  • Develop your own independent line of research

  • Assist other lab members with data collection and analysis (unless you are working on your own independent project under the mentorship of another lab member, in which case you should work on that)

  • Develop your weekly schedule by talking to your graduate student mentor or your post-doc mentor. You should be coming in every week, and scheduling enough time to get your work done

  • If you are earning course credit for research, you must also attend lab meetings when your schedule permits, present at one of these lab meetings, and submit a write-up of your research by the end of the semester