09 August 2021

Setting Expectations

PI Expectations of Lab Members

  • I expect all lab members to follow the Lab Code of Conduct.

  • I expect all trainees and employees in the lab to complete an annual Individual Development Plan (IDP) so that we agree on realistic goals. Goals are always editable, and I expect to modify the IDP to fit changing priorities, career aspirations, and personal situations.

  • I expect you to participate in the community of the lab, department, and university. This includes:

    • ASK QUESTIONS! No one is expected to know everything. If you are not sure about something, it is likely someone else has the same question, so let us all contribute to a community of learning!
    • Attending and participating in lab meetings - this means making sure to read any material (i.e. papers and manuscript drafts) prior to the meeting, and to contribute to discussion at meetings.
    • Invest time in the success of the lab by keeping the lab clean and organized, letting me know when supplies need ordering, and respecting the time and space of other lab members.
    • Attending departmental seminars regularly.
    • Participating in community outreach events.
    • Communicate with other lab members on Slack.
  • I expect that you will look after your personal well-being. This means I expect you to take breaks/vacations/personal time. If a personal situation is preventing you from achieving your goals, we will revisit your IDP and adjust accordingly.
    • If you need some time away from the lab, please talk to me. I don’t need to know all the details, but I will be your advocate.
    • Mental health is health.
  • I expect you to maintain a lab notebook for all “wet-lab” work and a record of analyses completed (commands run, explanations of files) for computational work (for example: hackmd.io).

  • I expect students will present their research at university (e.g. TTABBS), regional (e.g. TPCC), and/or national (e.g. Botany) meetings at least once per year.
    • Travel reimbursement to conferences will be provided when external funding is available.
    • Students should also apply for department (TTUAB), university, or external travel awards.
  • I expect you to set your own working hours. I will not enforce “regular working hours,” although you are more likely to find me Monday through Friday 9 AM - 5 PM. If working outside these hours works for your schedule, go for it! What matters to me is that you will meet the goals outlined in your IDP.

Lab Member Expectations of the PI

  • You can expect regular one-on-one meetings (weekly during the semesters) with me. These meetings will occur between 9 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday, and will be scheduled at the beginning of each semester.
  • You can expect timely feedback on grants, papers, and presentations.
    • If I am reviewing something before a one-on-one meeting, please give me at least two business days so I can give my feedback the time it deserves.
    • Presentations should be completed before leaving for the conference.
  • You can expect me to listen to your concerns and help you solve problems; it is my job to be your professional advocate and lend a strong arm when needed!
  • You can expect letters of recommendation given advance notice: two weeks if I have not written one for you before, or one week if I have.
  • You can expect me to help you network professionally. How this works will depend on the goals outlined in your individual development plan.


I have a “big tent” philosophy on authorship for scientific papers and presentations. For better or worse, the currency of academia is authorship on peer-reviewed manuscripts, and it is my goal to advocate for lab trainees in an inclusive way. Authorship is earned through intellectual contribution to scientific discovery, including: funding acquisition, study design, data collection, data analysis, and writing. At the beginning of a project that may result in one or more peer-reviewed publications, we will decide on authorship.

Senior (last) author

In most situations, I will be the senior (last) author if:

  • I was responsible for acquiring funding for the project.
  • The work is part of an undergraduate project, Masters’ thesis, or PhD dissertation on which I am the major advisor.

Some exceptions could include:

  • Review papers on which multiple trainees are substantial contributors
  • Side-projects funded independently (i.e. student research grants)

First Author

If a project is a part of a Masters’ thesis or PhD dissertation, the graduate student will be the first-author of the manuscript. Any manuscripts that are part of a post-doctoral research associate’s main funded project will be led by the post-doc. Undergraduates may be first authors if they fit the expectations outlined below.

First author(s) will be responsible for:

  • Writing the bulk of the manuscript
  • Choosing a peer-reviewed journal for submission of completed manuscript.
  • Organizing the contributions of co-authors (editing, figures) along a reasonable timeline.
  • Maintaining open data (Dryad, Sequence Read Archive) and code (GitHub) associated with the paper.
  • Assisting with submission of the manuscript to a journal.
  • Leading the process of revisions after peer review.

Co-First-Authorship may be the best choice for projects where multiple lab members have made substantial non-overlapping contributions to the work.


Lab members may be added to a project as a co-author if they contribute to the scientific merits of the paper. Co-authorship may be extended to lab members who:

  • Collect a substantial portion of the data (specimens, lab work)
  • Write previously unpublished code used in the manuscript
  • Analyze data and/or produce figures

Co-authorship is generally not offered for:

  • Giving feedback on the manuscript at lab meeting.
  • Collecting a few specimens.

Ph.D. Student Expectations

Graduate students are expected to follow guidelines provided by the Department, College, and University. These will be incorporated into Individual Development Plans.

As of 2020, incoming Ph.D. students have guaranteed (9-month) teaching assistant support by the Department of Biological Sciences for ten long semesters.

Expectations by the end of each academic year:

  • Year 1: form research committee and have first meeting
  • Year 2: defend research proposal with dissertation committee
  • Year 3: Qualification exam
  • Year 4: At least one scientific publication submitted to peer-reviewed journal
  • Year 5: Dissertation defense and graduation

M.S. Student Expectations

Graduate students are expected to follow guidelines provided by the Department, College, and University. These will be incorporated into Individual Development Plans.

As of 2020, incoming M.S. students have guaranteed (9-month) teaching assistant support by the Department of Biological Sciences for six long semesters. However, most M.S. thesis projects can be completed within two academic years.

Year 1: Course work and research proposal development

By end of Year 1: Proposal defense with thesis committee

Year 2: Course work and independent research

By end of Year 2: Thesis defense and graduation

Undergraduate Student Expectations

Undergraduate students will typically be working via:

  • Research Credit (BIOL4100 or BIOL4300)
  • TTU Honors Scholars
  • Work-study

Students taking research for credit will be expected to dedicate at least three hours per week per credit hour (i.e. 3 for BIOL4100 or 9 for BIOL4300).

Due to training requirements needed to help undergraduate students get acquainted with research, undergrads are expected to commit to at least two semesters of research. Successful undergraduate research should result in a tangible product, which can include:

  • A “best-practices” workflow
  • A public presentation (e.g. undergraduate poster session)
  • Peer-reviewed publication

Post-Doctoral Researcher Expectations

Post-docs are often on a fixed time-scale and needs will vary based on career goals. I expect post-docs will:

  • Work towards publishing first-author papers related to the research project on which they are funded
  • Mentor graduate and undergraduate students
  • Maintain protocols associated with their research (e.g. herbarium curation, computer resources)
  • Communicate career goals with me so I can assist with networking and professional development
  • Assist with organizing lab events, including lab meetings.