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What am I supposed to do in the lab?

What is my responsibility, what are other people's responsibilities?

What is my mentor's responsibility?

This page will answer these questions

i. Expectations of PI

It’s an honor for me (Dr. Evangelista) to mentor a team of people who are passionate about biodiversity and science. My commitment to you is to make our lab a supportive environment to conduct good science. Importantly, I am invested in your success. Literally. I have allocated our very limited resources ($, time, space, equipment etc.) to YOU. So, if you succeed, I also have succeeded, and then I have made a good investment. (What do I get out of our relationship? Publications, increasing my network, increased capacity to get funding and perhaps more). Therefore, I should be expected to protect my investment  through good mentorship (to the best of my ability). This investment goes beyond what you do in the lab and your publications. If you graduate and follow your desired career path I consider that a part of my success.

If Dr. Evangelista is your direct mentor you should expect that he:

  • Has an initial meeting with you to discuss your project's outline

  • Sets regular (at least once a semester) meetings with you to discuss your project and check in on your timeline

  • Informs you about availability of funding for your appointment (if he has not discuss this with you, ask or assume that there are no lab funds available)

  • Informs you about your ability to utilize lab money for your research project

  • Informs you about opportunities to present your research at conferences, and other opportunities

  • Answers all your questions to the best of his ability

  • Writes you a strong letter of recommendation (if you are on good terms).


Dr. Evangelista will work towards providing an environment that is emotionally supportive, safe, equitable, intellectually stimulating, and free of harassment. Dr. Evangelista will help guide your research project and give you feedback on your work to ensure our science is of the best quality possible. A two-way feedback culture is critical to a successful lab environment! Thus, any issues, even small things, should be dealt with swiftly and with little stress. When you have any questions or concerns—Dominic’s door is always open (even if it is literally closed, it is metaphorically open to urgent concerns). In an emergency, whether that is lab-related or personal, you can call on Dr. Evangelista for assistance. Please also come to Dominic if you are having issues with individuals inside or outside our lab. Dominic can help guide you to the appropriate resources to deal with this within the Department and University. If Dr. Evangelista is the cause of your concern, please seek help from another PI in the department (such as May Berenbaum, Adam Dolezal, or any faculty you feel comfortable with) or discuss the issue with human resources.

ii. Expectations of All Lab Members

In our lab, we want everyone to be themselves, and trust one another.  We ask everyone to have a proactive attitude and to contribute to the lab, both intellectually and operationally. Being a lab member is not like being in a classroom -- here you are expected to be independent, take responsibility for your growth, and be synergistic with your colleagues. Thus, it is up to you to make the most of all the training and opportunities you are given.


Lab members come from diverse personal and academic backgrounds. All lab members should treat each other with respect and dignity. Disrespectful behavior, harassment, and/or scientific misconduct will not be tolerated. Be considerate of others in the lab; it is courteous to keep common spaces clean and organized, and return communal equipment to where you found it. If you use up common supplies and solutions, please notify Dominic or the lab technician. Mistakes and accidents happen in the lab, and that is okay. Communicate important mistakes immediately (like a it right off without thinking too much) to minimize their negative impact. Communicating your mistakes should make people trust you more, not less. If you do not know how to fix an issue that has arisen or are having trouble with something in the lab, ask for help. Again, asking people for help should make people trust you or. Make smart choices. Be respectful, kind, safe, and proactive!

iii. Expectations of Research Support Staff

Research support staff (e.g. research assistants and technicians) are vital players to proper operation of the lab and are valued contributors to research projects. They are expected to take charge of lab management and safety. Importantly, research support staff are expected to keep the lab spaces and equipment clean and organized. That being said, support staff should not clean up other people's messes. Dr. Evangelista much prefers you communicate with people about taking responsibility for their own messes (even Dr. Evangelista's inevitable messes).


The needs of the lab will be constantly evolving as will the responsibilities, opportunities, and skills needed. Our lab will work together to define research support staff’s evolving role in the lab, depending on individual skills and preferences. Importantly, research support staff are encouraged to voice their needs as researchers themselves. If you wish to allocate your time/effort towards a certain project, then please discuss this with Dr. Evangelista. If the project is synergistic with lab research then you can expect coauthorship (or primary authorship when appropriate) on resulting publications.

iv. Expectations of Graduate Students and Postdocs

We expect graduate students and postdocs to be the driving force behind their projects. We expect that you will be the expert on your project and your research field. Seek out research relevant to your work, and keep abreast of the latest tools and research in our field, even if it may not seem directly relevant to your work. Take advantage of the environment and opportunities that may arise and seek mentors both inside and outside of the lab. Graduate and postdoctoral trainees should support each other and collaborate with others inside or outside the lab on research projects. Dominic expects you to be an "independent researcher". But an independent does not mean a lone wolf. Independent means that you take ownership, gather knowledge, formulate ideas, and then bring all of that into dialogue with others who can help. It is never too early to start thinking about your career goals; –please discuss these with me as they evolve.

v. Expectations of Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate research assistants are critical contributors to our research. We value the effort you put into the lab and reward it with course credit, training, experience, letters of recommendation, mentoring, and potentially authorship. You will generally work on projects led by others within the lab. However, you should strive, and we encourage you, to make intellectual contributions to the projects you work on. You may embark on independent projects as well once you’ve become firmly established in lab research long term (for more than 2 semesters). Undergraduate trainees are expected to commit to a minimum number of hours over a set period of time; please discuss this with Dr. Evangelista and your unofficial mentor. Please develop your weekly schedule by talking to your individual mentor. When you are working, you are expected to frequently ask for feedback (e.g., "Hey, can you tell me if I am doing this right?", "Excuse me, can you take a look at this and tell me how I can make it better?"), and provide your own input on how to improve tasks (e.g., "I noticed that we use this software a lot. If we were able to get the newest version I could work a lot quicker"). This is encouraged. Just be aware that we have limitations and may not be able to make every improvement.

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