Lab Manual

Welcome to the HDFT Lab!

This lab manual is inspired by several others (see 1, 2, 3). When you join the lab, you’re expected to check out this manual and confirmed with Frank that you have read through it and let him know if there is any question.

Lab philosophy

These items come in priority. When in conflicts, go with the higher one.

  • Integrity in science

Adhere to the best research integrity (check this out). If you do make a mistake, you should definitely disclose it even if the paper is being written up, submitted, or accepted). We admit our mistakes, and then we correct them and move on.

  • Be supportive and respect to each other

If you’re struggling, tell someone. The lab looks out for the well-being of all its members. Stay home if you are sick and let Frank know to arrange someone to take over lab duties. 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. There is no hierarchy in the lab. Everyone (including the PI) should work together as a team. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the person in question, tell Frank.

  • Be responsible to duties

Duties related to outside collaboration is of a higher priority. The next is grant-funded activities. The last is lab duties such as lab meetings and subject scans.

  • Show up

You aren’t expected to come into lab on weekends and holidays or stay late at night, but I expect to see the lab members in the lab during the working hour of weekday. If there is a need to take extra day off due to family obligation, please let Frank know.

Visiting scholars and students will have their own schedule, and part-time members will need only to fulfill the duty without showing up in the lab.

Expectations and Responsibilities

Principal Investigator

  • Care for your emotional and physical well-being
  • 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.
  • 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 that answer a big-picture question that you have. Much of your work has to be done independently, but remember that others in lab (especially Mariam!) 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 Mariam 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 TAing 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

General Policies

PI Office Hours

In addition to weekly meetings, and occasionally dropping by the lab, you can find Frank in his office. Her door is almost always open; if it 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.

Weekly Lab Meetings

HDFT lab has a weekly lab meetings in the Friday afternoon. It is meant to be a forum for trainees to present project ideas and/or data to get feedback from the rest of the group. Projects at any level of completion (or even not yet started!) can benefit from being presented. These lab meetings can also be used 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).

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.

Subject scans

Notify Frank if there is a subject that is going to be scheduled and scanned. The person in duty should schedule the scan, download the data after the scan, and send the data to Frank. All scan data should be kept within the lab computer.