Lab Expectations and Values

This is a living page and is subject to change over time with feedback from teammates and further reflection.


Oklahoma State University Safe Zone Poster

In the Stubbendieck lab, we are devoted to creating a welcoming environment that is inclusive and values on individuals, regardless of race, sex and gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, culture, religion, disability, and beliefs. We accept that we will learn more and achieve greater accomplishments as a diverse team of researchers. We also recognize and understand that everyone has a unique experience that others may not understand. We are committed to confronting and challenging our own biases, while standing in solidarity with those who have too often faced systemic oppression and undue barriers to their success.

We take action by:

  • Creating a dedicated space for sharing materials, resources, and reflections about diversity, equity, inclusion, and awareness.
  • Making time at lab meeting to discuss our values and how to improve inclusion in our lab.
  • Participating in campus and community-organized events
  • Supporting efforts to increase participation in STEM regionally and nationally.

Graphic that states: "In this lab, we believe Science is real, Love is love, Black Lives Matter, Feminism if for everyone, Microbes are Cool, and Immigrants are welcome"

In sharing this image, we commit to the Diversity Pledge.

Lab Citizenship

Providing Feedback

We are all part of the same team. Your colleague’s success is your success. For each of us, feedback is critical to promote our growth and development. We never attack an individual or their character. I will not tolerate these actions. I expect members of the lab to follow the principle of charity and the expanded Hanlon’s razor. When critiquing a presentation or result, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask how you would feel on the receiving end. If you have a problem with another member of the lab, resolve the issue with them personally or through a third party, such as me.

Scientific Integrity and Research Misconduct

I have a zero tolerance policy towards research misconduct, including fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. We will work together to maintain a lab culture that promotes morally and academically responsible research, while minimizing pressures that can promote research misconduct.

All degree-seeking graduate students, postdoctoral fellows/associates and undergraduate students engaged in research are required to complete the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training. Click here for instructions on how to enroll. Upon completion of this training, submit your certificates of completion to me directly.

If you suspect that research misconduct has occurred, you can report it to the Research Integrity Officer, Dawn Underwood, by email or phone 405-744-0405. You can also report anonymously online or by phone at 1-866-294-8692.


We will discuss authorship early and often when developing a new project in the lab. I will follow the recommendations for authorship candidacy as outlined by the International Committee of Journal Editors. We will use the CRediT Taxonomy to describe each author’s specific contribution to the paper.

I will typically be the last author and corresponding author for publications from our lab. For postdocs that are developing their own projects before starting their independent research careers, we will share the position of corresponding author, if applicable.

The emphasis on collaboration in the life sciences is increasing, resulting in publications with higher numbers of authors and often with two or more co-first authors. I believe it is important to have a clear guideline on co-first authorship order before the need arises. Within our lab, I will meet with each of the co-first authors independently and then together to discuss where everyone stands. If there is not a mutually agreed candidate for being listed first, we will determine the order of the names by coin flip or other agreed upon and fair method. For the next paper, we will swap the co-first authorship order. With of co-first authorships between a member of our lab and a member of a collaborator’s lab, I will discuss name order with the other principal investigator.

Working in the Lab

Work-Life Balance and Mental Health

I believe that it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Your overall productivity is not related to the total time spent physically at your bench or desk. I do not require members of the lab to work X number of hours a day and Y days a week. I do not monitor the total hours graduate students and postdocs work in the lab and do not keep score or award favor for working overtime. I will not schedule work-related events (e.g., lab meetings) after standard working hours. That said, working in a research laboratory is not strictly a 9 to 5 job. You will sometimes need to work after-hours or on a weekend to check on an experiment, start a culture, or meet a deadline. You will have days where you’re tired or you have no motivation. This is normal! Remember to be kind to yourself. I welcome and encourage members of the lab to leave early or take a mental health day as needed. It is okay to take a break and recharge!

I may send email outside of working hours, but you are under no obligation to respond at that time. Likewise, I do not consistently check my email outside after-hours or on weekends.

Your mental health and wellbeing are important to me. I am not a physician or a licensed therapist, but I will work with you to find resources to help you and accommodate your needs. If you are feeling burned out or stressed, please know that you can talk to me or University Counseling Services. Being a scientist is one of the best jobs out there. You are an explorer, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge forward. If you are not feeling passionate about your project, I will work with you to find something that gets you excited!

Lab Safety

The Kirchberger-Stubbendieck lab space is BSL-2. I take lab safety extremely seriously. This is non-negotiable for me. If you work in the lab, you must agree to the following:

  • You must complete annual laboratory safety training.
  • You must complete annual training in handling Bloodborne Pathogens
  • You must wear eye protection, long pants, and closed toed shoes in the lab.
  • You must not consume food or drink in the lab.
  • You must familiarize yourself with the lab’s safety plan and the location of safety equipment.
  • If you see someone else acting in an unsafe manner, remind them of what they should be doing.
  • If you need any personal protective equipment, I will order it, no questions asked.
  • If your health status changes (including pregnancy), tell me in private so that we can work out how to best accommodate your changing needs.
  • Beakers break. Solvents spill. Mistakes happen. We all make them. For the safety of those around you, inform everyone when something happens. Glassware and samples are replaceable, people are not. Come talk to me about the glassware I’ve broken or the samples I’ve lost. It happens.
  • If there is a medical emergency after hours, call 911 immediately. If there is a non-medical emergency (e.g., a freezer is thawing), please call my personal phone number immediately, regardless of time of day.

Campus SafeWalk

The OSU SafeWalk program will provide an escort from any location on campus to another location from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM. To request a SafeWalk, call 405-744-6523 or use the Rave Guardian app.

Common Resources

We share our main space with the Kirchberger lab and frequently use equipment in other labs and core facilities on campus. I require that members of the lab treat these resources and spaces with respect. Ensure that you have received all required training and follow established rules and protocols before using any instrument outside of our lab, even if you have used the exact same piece of equipment before at another institution. If you are unsure of what to do or a problem arises, immediately stop using that instrument and contact its owner and myself. When leaving, do not leave any waste, and ensure that the space is cleaner than when you arrived. Remember, access to these resources is a privilege, not a right.


Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.

–Adam Savage, MythBusters

As highlighted by the above quote, if the results or methodology only exist in your head, then the experiment might as well have never happened. Good record keeping is for your benefit: it protects intellectual property, enables effective troubleshooting, and makes your life easier when writing manuscripts and dissertations! Future-you will greatly appreciate the effort that present-you put into your notebook.


How you manage your lab notebook is largely up to you, but I require the following:

  • Record all entries chronologically, referring back to previous pages for continuing experiments.
  • Date each page, include descriptive information about why each experiment is being conducted, describe the controls, and expected outcomes.
  • Record all relevant details to ensure reproducibility, including:
    • instrument type, manufacturer, software version, calibration, and protocol (if applicable).
    • conditions for PCR, ligations, or other reactions.
    • manufacturer, reference number, and lot number of reagents.
  • Make your entries legibly in English using archival quality black ink with no erasure.
    • Correct mistakes using a single strike-through, such that the original text remains clear.
    • Explain acronyms used and include units for all data entries.
  • Record the outcomes of experiments.
    • Affix printouts and graphs to notebooks.
    • For datasheets that are too large to be physically incorporated into the notebook, provide a link to where the raw data are located.
  • All notebooks remain in the lab and should not be removed from the building. Upon completion of a notebook or tenure in the laboratory, copies will be made and provided, as needed.

Data Analysis

Once recorded, never modify the raw data! This includes gel and plate images. Always maintain the uncropped and unadjusted images.

Follow steps toward reproducible research. Scripts document the actions taken to manipulate and analyze data. It is preferable to tweak your scripts and rerun an analysis than it is to hand-edit and cleanup the raw output. In general, you should be able to give your raw data and scripts to a colleague that is unfamiliar with your work and have them replicate your results. Not only will this ensure your reproducibility, it will save you time in the future when you need to repeat an analysis.

Data Backup

There is almost nothing more tragic or heartbreaking than losing your hard-earned work to a failed hard drive or stolen laptop. It is also completely avoidable. Do not use instrument computers for long-term data backup. In addition to storing data locally on your own or laboratory computer, your data should be backed up in at least two additional locations:

  • OSU has a subscription to Office365, which includes 1 TB of personal storage in OneDrive. Use it! This should be sufficient for storing most data and manuscripts.
  • You may also find it useful to use a personal DropBox or Google Drive backup.
  • We also use a shared folder on OneDrive for the laboratory. You will gain access to a folder upon joining the lab and maintain access as long as it is needed. This is not personal storage. I can access anything stored in this folder and, upon leaving the lab, your folder will become archived and viewable by other members of the lab.
  • I will provide hard drives as needed to members of the lab as an additional backup location and for storing large amounts of raw data generated from sequencing or mass spectrometry experiments.

In addition, we use GitHub for version control of code, collaboration, and disseminating scripts necessary to replicate our published work.

On “Failed” Experiments

It is inevitable that one of your favorite hypotheses will fail to hold up to scrutiny or that the differences between an experimental treatment and control end up being not significant. This is a normal part of science and it happens to everyone. If an experiment does not yield your expected result, I suggest the following:

  • Take a moment to pause and breathe. Put some distance between yourself and the experiment.
  • Ask yourself questions like “Did I remember to add chemical X?”, “Is there something wrong with this batch of media?”, and “Did the controls work?” Consult your notes. Talk to your colleagues. By explaining your experiment, one of you might identify where something went wrong or they might reflect that something strange happened when they used one of the same reagents or strains.
  • If possible, prepare fresh reagents and collect fresh samples.
  • Repeat the experiment. Pay close attention to each step. Use a checklist to ensure you add each reagent and follow each step.
  • If the experiment does not produce the expected result again, it is not worth your time to keep repeating the same experiment over and over and hoping for a different result.
  • Schedule a meeting with me and we can discuss how to proceed next.
  • Remember, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers in science.
  • Leave failures in the lab. Your worth is not tied to the outcomes of your experiment. You are still a valuable person.


We have a duty to be conscience about the environmental impact of our research. It is inevitable that we will use single-use plastics in our lab, but we make a conscious effort to reduce our use of these items. We use reusable glass serological pipettes, test tubes, and beads over plastic alternatives. We prepare stock solutions in glass bottles, instead of single use Falcon tubes. Where feasible, we employ strategies to reuse laboratory plastics and recycle them, when permitted. We also plan our experiments ahead of time to reduce plastic use.

The modern laboratory uses a lot of energy. We are cognizant of our energy use and take steps to reduce it. For instance, we run out ultra-low temperature freezers at -70°C, instead of -80°C, which reduces energy consumption by 30-40% without having an impact on storage of bacteria or nucleic acids. Similarly, we use hold temperatures of 25°C instead of 4°C at the end of PCR. This effort reduces the energy consumption by our thermocyclers, increases their lifetime, and has no effect on PCR product stability. We advocate other labs take the same steps and are always looking for new ways to improve our sustainability.


I thank Goeffry Aguirre, Marc Chevrette, and Pat Schloss for inspiration in writing this page.