Laboratory Code of Conduct

This first Code of Conduct was developed by Eric Miller and 2021 Summer students in the MEE lab (Diego Capcha, Christina McBride, Emma Miller, Maisie Smith, and Isha Upender) with the intention of making it a living document to be revisited and discussed by MEE lab members each semester and/or as needed. This document serves as a place to articulate the actions, attitudes, and vibes we want to cultivate in the MEE lab, particularly through the lens of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. 

  1. Safety, meaning both mental and physical wellbeing, is ALWAYS more important than results.
    • Working in an undergraduate laboratory is a learning process for absolutely everybody — from a student just joining the lab, to our senior student researchers, to Eric, who is constantly adjusting and learning the best ways to mentor students
    • Many times, experiments will not go as planned. When this happens, this can be a mistake or caused by carelessness. Mistakes are a normal process of learning and will never be penalized in the MEE lab; carelessness, which is a lack of preparation, attention, or awareness, is instead an issue. If you are not prepared or in a mental state to be aware and able to give attention to your work, please do not work in the lab at that time.
    • Another way to think about this difference is that we should strive to constantly move forward, either in research or in growing as scientists. Carelessness does not move these goals forward.
  2. Safety in the lab includes a zero tolerance policy of discrimination, as discrimination strongly hurts the mental wellbeing of lab members. 
    • Science has a history of only welcoming a small subsection of people. It is our responsibility to change this by recruiting, welcoming, and providing space for historically underrepresented groups in science.
    • It is all of our responsibilities to call out any microaggressions or discrimination, either at the time of the event or later by contacting Eric. This can be done by email / talking to Eric or filling out the anonymous comment form on the MEE webpage. 
  3. Research is built on experiments that have not been done yet. By this process, no one in research is yet an expert on their experiment — and this is normal and okay.
    • “I don’t know” is a great answer and does not show a lack of intelligence or aptitude in research; it simply reflects what information each of us has.
    • Questions are also great — science is built on questioning. Remember that knowledge in the lab is not hierarchical; please do not blindly follow seniors or even Eric. If you do have a question, think about who might know the answer and who would be most available to answer it. Slack is a great tool for this because it is not hierarchical; please use Slack to message each other with questions!
    • Answering questions and guiding other student researchers is a fundamental role in the lab, and it is how we grow as scientists. No one is born knowing how to run a DNA gel; it is each of our responsibility to teach others how to work in the lab if we are asked by any other member of the lab.
    • Remember that for interesting scientific questions, no one knows the answer! These questions in particular contribute to how science is hard by nature, as we are exploring the unknown. Let’s not make science harder than it already is in any way.