Our lab is committed to scientific excellence, creativity, and an inclusive environment for all its members. Now that you’re part of this lab, we hope you will proudly uphold these values as we embark on this scientific journey together.


Big picture

Science is hard. But it should also be fun. In the Chou lab, we want to ensure that everyone experiences an engaging, challenging, but rewarding lab environment. This is every one’s responsibility and common goal. To maintain this environment, we all have to do a few things:

  • Stoke fire into your passion. Work hard to build your passion and be proud of it. Be so proud that you have to suppress bragging (but it’s okay to brag sometimes)
  • Integrity. We all make mistakes. We are not defined by our mistakes, but by how we deal with them. We don’t cover our mistakes. We admit them, make corrections, and move on. We also inform everyone involved, including your colleagues, your collaborators, and your supervisor. If someone else makes a mistake, we don’t shame. We encourage honesty through peer-to-peer support
  • Rigor. We all want to publish paper and do great things. But we do this honestly. It is never okay to plagiarize, tamper with data, make up data, omit data, or fudge results in any way. Science is about finding the truth, and null results and unexpected results are still important. In this lab, we discuss these findings just as much as positive results
  • Teamwork. Support your fellow lab mates. Help them out if they need help. If you’ve received help, give someone credit. Acknowledge them publicly. Reciprocate. Good science is collaborative, not competitive
  • Citizenship. Give constructive feedback and be happy to receive them. If you have a problem with Leo, let him know about it. If you have problems with lab mates but don’t feel comfortable confronting, let Leo know about it. Have each other’s back
  • Health and happiness. This is top priority. If you’re struggling, voice it to someone (feel free to tell Leo). Never be afraid to ask questions. If you see someone else struggling, escalate your concerns to Leo. We want everyone to be happy and having fun
  • Work-life balance. Related to previous point. Science is a marathon, not a sprint. Have a life outside of the lab will keep you happy, energized, and overall more productive

Small picture

  • Punctuality. Show up on time to meetings, classes, and the lab. Constantly improve your time management skills. Stay organized. Respect that everyone has a busy schedule and having access to their time is a privilege and their gift to you
  • Self-motivation. You’re not expected to come into lab on weekends and holidays, and you aren’t expected to stay late at night. You are expected to get your work done (whatever time of the day you like to do it)
  • Sickness. If you’re sick, stay home and take care of yourself. Because you need it, and because others don’t need to get sick. If you’re sick, it is your responsibility to reschedule meetings and notify others involved as soon as you can
  • Be present. Show up to your meetings, classes, and the lab energized and engaged. It is unfair and disrespectful to your colleagues if you’re physically and mentally absent. If you’re struggling, escalate this to Leo or others to fix your concerns
  • Maintenance. Clean up after yourself. Keep things organized. Close the door on your way out. Be a vigilant and active citizen of the lab


All of the above, and I also promise to:

  • Support you (scientifically, financially, emotionally)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Help you prepare for the next steps of your career, whether it’s a post-doc, a faculty job, or a job in industry
  • Care for your emotional and physical well-being and prioritize that above all else


All of the above, and you also promise to:

  • Develop your own independent line of research
  • Help train and mentor graduate students and more junior scientists.
  • Apply for grants and fellowships. Though I will only hire post-docs knowing that I can fully support them for at least 2 years, it is in your best interest to learn how to write grants. This will also free up funds in the lab for supplies and reagents
  • Challenge the PI (Leo) when I’m wrong or when your opinion is different
  • Bring in a unique set of expertise, skillset, perspective to the lab

Grad Students

All of the above, and you also promise to:

  • Prioritize time for research. Coursework and TA-ing are important, but ultimately you will be judged by your peers based on your calibre as a researcher. Remember, the time you are investing into graduate school now is arguably the best part of your life, and no one will ask you what courses you took.
  • Develop your dissertation topic. Your dissertation should have at least 3 substantial projects that answer a big-picture question that you have. As much as this has to be done independently by you, you should develop the habit to raise questions and ask for help. Remember that others in the lab (especially Leo!) are there to help you when you need it
  • Apply for scholarships. Not only does this look great on your CV but it also frees up money in the lab for things like reagents and supplies
  • Think about what you want for your career (e.g., academic research or teaching, industry, scientific writing, starting your own company, …etc.), and discuss with Leo to make sure you’re getting the relevant training
  • Make sure you meet all departmental deadlines (e.g., for your qualifying exams and thesis) and make sure Leo is aware of them! Consult the gradschool handbook for this.
  • Help mentor undergraduate 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


All of the above, and you also promise to:

  • 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 or post-doc mentor. You should be coming in every week and scheduling enough time to get your work done. As a rule of thumb, senior thesis students should be devoting at least 20 hours a week, and summer students should devote at least 35 hours a week
  • 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