Li Lab

Quantitative Ecology in a Changing World



Code of conduct

This is a working document created to establish best practices for lab interactions and culture. The goal is to clearly lay out my expectations for behavior within the lab in an effort to encourage an inclusive lab culture.

Science is tough, and it’s easy to get down about the barrage of rejections or challenges. However, it’s also pretty great, and the list below is designed to make sure it has the potential to be great for everyone.

Please note that this document is not a substitute for university rules and regulations, and that those policies and any legal requirements supersede anything in this document. If you have suggestions for this document – whether you are inside the lab or not – feel free to suggest them by filing an issue or by issuing a pull request at this repository.

You are welcome in this lab

The lab is dedicated to creating a safe environment where harassment and other forms of intimidation are not allowed. A safe environment also means that there is zero tolerance for any form of discrimination, including age, disability, appearance, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or religion (or lack thereof). You are encouraged to share your perspective. Everyone’s perspective is valuable and should be listened to equally and respectfully. Discussions are encouraged, so long as they adhere to considerate language. We also are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and strive to achieve these in the lab. Not only is everyone welcome to work in the lab if they follow basic guidelines, we actively seek to build a group that is diverse among multiple dimensions.

General rules of conduct

  • Be kind to yourself. Be mindful of your limits, and do not exhaust yourself.

  • Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down other contributors.

  • Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate.

  • Please make an effort to make an inclusive environment for everyone. Give everyone a chance to talk and an opportunity to contribute.

  • All communication - online and in person - should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual or discriminatory language and imagery is not appropriate at any time.

What you can expect from me

  • I will set the broad scientific direction for the lab but you have the freedom to pursue your own research projects. I will help you to find/refine your research topic and to help you write grants to fund your research. I will encourage you to attend scientific meetings to promote you and your work. You should try to apply for grants to fund your research and conferences first. If failed, I may be able to support with my own funding.
  • I am committed to mentoring you now and in the future. I will advise and guide your research, training, and career development while in my lab. I am happy to give any advices after your graduation if needed.
  • I will be available for regular meetings and provide timely review of research. I expect to meet with everyone in the lab weekly (see the Meetings section below). You should try to get the most out of these meetings. For short things such as abstracts or 1-2 page summaries, I will generally be able to get back to you in 1-2 days; for papers and thesis, I will need at least 1-2 weeks. In the event of a lab emergency, I may be contacted on my cell phone.
  • I will provide a work environment environment that is intellectually stimulating, supportive, safe, and free from harassment. I will strive to understand your unique situation and am open to your suggestions on how to improve your experience in the lab.

What I expect from you

Overall, I expect that you will take ownership of your educational experience. This is your education and you should be the driver.

  • I will work with you to select courses, committee members, prepare for qualifying and general exams etc. But you need to determine the requirements for your graduate program and are responsible to ensure that you are in compliance.
  • You will keep me updated on your research progress and challenges by taking advantage of the regular meetings (see the Meetings section below).
  • You should always seek out professional development opportunities. To be successfully, you must develop strong communication skills (presentations, papers, proposals, etc.), time management skills, mentoring, and most importantly, research progress toward your thesis.
    • You should read the scientific literature frequently. Spend time each week to follow the most recent literature by browsing RSS feeds and read those that are relevant to your own research in details.
    • You should learn how to plan your research project by reading the literature and discussing with me and others in the lab.
    • You should develop your writing and presentation skills. I expect that you will have at least 3 chapters for your dissertation, with each chapter being a publishable manuscript. You should try to have a daily writing habit. Although the availability of travel funds will vary, I encourage you to submit your work for presentation at one conference per year. Attend relevant seminars such as the weekly department seminars to learn both science and how to give a good talk.
    • You should try to develop your mentoring and management skills. Mentoring undergraduate researchers can be a great opportunity to further your professional development as a supervisor and can help your own research progress.
    • You should apply for fellowships, small research grants, and travel grants as much as you can. Not only will an award help your career and the overall lab funding situation, the experience of writing the proposal will help you think about what you are doing more deeply.
    • You should keep a detailed lab notebook to record all details of your experiments and research. Data belongs to the lab, not to any one individual. As a result, you will be expected to leave your original notebooks and files when you leave the lab.
  • Be respectful, tolerant of, and work collegially with laboratory colleagues: respect individual differences in values, personalities, and work styles.

Working hours

Researchers in our lab are expected to be present in the lab from 9am - 5pm. However, this is flexible depending on the personal schedules of lab members. The idea is that in order to foster communication and interaction among lab members, having people together in the lab during the workday is useful. Further, it allows a slightly more clear separation between work time and personal time. I am not the master of work-life balance by any means, but treating research like a job with clear hours has helped me draw boundaries in the allocation of my time. That being said, if lab members feel that they cannot abide by the 9-5 schedule, they are encouraged to come talk to me. I am not going to track hours for lab members. However, if I sense that this is being taken advantage of, the situation will be addressed.


I will try my best to meet with everyone in the lab weekly if needed. You should come prepared to present and discuss your recent research and next steps. I expect everyone in the lab to create a weekly planning Google Doc and share it with me. Within this document, each of us should list what we have done this week and what we plan to do (dodable actions) next week. This file will also serve as an agenda for our one-to-one weekly meetings.

Annual Evaluations

Each year we will have an evaluation meeting. During this meeting, we will go through your cv to determine things that are going well and areas for improvement. I will tell you if I am satisfied with your progress and help you to identify steps to take next. This is also an opportunity for you to let me know what I can do to help you succeed (e.g., more guidance? more independence? meet more/less often?)

Lab space

The lab space belongs to everyone. I expect that lab members will respect the space and other members using this space. As a member of the lab, I will ensure that you have access to the resources you need to do your best science. This means that you will be issued a:

  • desk space
  • lab notebook

This list is not exhaustive.

We value collaboration and open science

We support collaboration as a better model than competition within the lab and with colleagues at LSU and elsewhere. We are advocates of Open Science and reproducibility. Whenever possible, the data and software we generate is released under open licenses, a contribution we view as more important than simply churning out more papers (there may be cases for not sharing data openly immediately).

How to handle an issue

This is a tricky one, but it doesn’t have to be. My door will always be open, as well as my email inbox. Lab members are encouraged to talk to me about any issues. All communication will be treated as confidential.

However, if lab members do not feel comfortable discussing issues with me or people within the lab, LSU offers conflict resolution through the Office of the Ombudsperson.

Latest version of this file can be found here.