Welcome to the Chiang Lab! We are so glad you are interested in our research and have joined our team. Consistent with our interdisciplinary research and emphasis on training, members of the lab came from different backgrounds, with different levels of preparedness and expertise. Therefore this page is meant to provide quick resources and guidelines that will hopefully build a equitable and inclusive lab culture that is respectful, friendly, and productive.
Well-being First: Academic life could be a grueling one, from feeling like an imposter to endless deadlines to repeated failures. Your health and well-being, both mentally and physically, are more important than your research. This means you should set aside some time off working hours to do things you enjoy, be it exercising, play spectator sports, see your family, or be involved in your community. If you would like to discuss any issues, I am happy to listen. I will fully acknowledge what you would like to share in a safe and private space. I will also be happy to adjust immediate and long-term goals that will assist your situation, and reassess these goals as you progress. My job is to advise and mentor you, not to evaluate you. Finally, all building safety codes and access regulations should be closely adhered.
Harassment-free Environment: It is essential to create an inclusive and welcoming work environment. We are all united by our fascination of specific aspects of science, which do not exclude based on attributes such as race, citizenship, religion, political affiliations, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability status, pregnancy, physical appearance or body size, etc. Therefore, harassment or discrimination of anyone, based on any of the above protected characteristics and more, will not be tolerated.
- For more information, see https://policy.usc.edu/discrimination/
- Confidential on-campus resources: Center for Work and Family Life and USC Student Health (Title IX will make every effort to keep complaints confidential, but not guaranteed).
- Workplace Hostility and Microaggression: While the law does not require us to be polite, we should be held to a higher standard than the legal definition to ensure an professional and productive environment. Every member of the lab is expected to be respectful and professional at all times to others and others' work. Microaggression will take particular effort to avoid, because it is rooted in implicit biases that we all have. See this link for some examples so you are more aware of how unintentional, or even well-intentioned, actions could be perceived differently by others.
Flexible Hours: One of the many perks of an academic life is the flexibility of our work schedule. All members of the lab are expected to be self-motivated and that I hope I would never have to question the efforts one puts into their research. Everyone has a different lifestyle, different needs for work-life balance, and different working habits that will make them most productive. However, science also does not happen in a vaccuum. We all benefit from interacting with each other, bouncing ideas off each other, and leveraging our experiences to enable the success of those less experienced (in fact, that is a lot of what PIs do!). In general, every member of the team (particularly members who are not bound by class schedules anymore) should be actively at work between 11am to 3pm on weekdays, so that each of us will be able to overlap for a significant chunk of the workday while accommodating for individual schedules. (This is not to say you should only work 4 hours a day! And obviously, exceptions apply.) Your consistent presence during those times will lead to interactions and team-building, for the benefits of you and your labmates.
Vacations: Along with the perks of flexible work schedule is also the flexible vacation schedule, particularly for those who are not bound by coursework anymore. There are official policies from the University for paid vacation for staff and postdocs. For students, I would recommend at least taking 3-4 weeks of vacation a year to re-energize yourself for the long journey (but please ensure the vacation is not interfering with your required coursework). In all cases, please plan early and inform me when you are leaving, so we can plan your projects and deadlines around your time off and make sure you are progressing towards your research goals.
Emails: Due to my own working style and work-life balance, I may be sending you emails outside of what is considered "regular" working hours. I do not expect a response from you outside of your typical working schedule. Though there may be occasional exceptions if we are working close to a deadline. In those instances, I will let you know ahead of time the possibility of breaking this expectation.
Participations at lab meetings and seminars: Each member of the lab is expected to participate in the weekly lab meeting. The expectation is not merely the physical presence, but the active thinking and constructive critiques that you will be providing. Current lab meeting format is a rotating schedule where one member is responsible for leading the meeting each week. The presenter will have a choice of presenting research update or leading a journal article discussion. You can check with me if you need advice for a journal club paper or are unsure about your choices. Everyone is also expected to regularly attend the Center for Genetic Epidemiology (CGE) seminars and journal club.
Reproducibility: All developed methods, analytic pipelines and finalized results of your analysis should be well-documented. This is not just for scientific rigor, but also for training and as a service to your labmates. Other members of the lab will appreciate detailed records of what you have tried and failed (and what you have tried and succeeded), so that they can learn from your experience. You will also appreciate that others will not need to constantly bug you with questions. We will try our best to post preprints of original research to preprint servers (like biorxiv), and post codes to online repositories (like GitHub), but even just a set of neatly kept READMEs on the lab server will go a long way to document your hard work.
Self-enrichment: Everyone should be immersed in the current literature. Good scientific ideas and practices will frequently stem from surveying the literature. Attendance at CGE journal clubs is a good source for being exposed to literature, but will not be enough for your self-enrichment. I would encourage everyone subscribe to feeds from major genetics journals for their table of contents and abstracts, as well as using social media such as twitter to get a better sense of the latest and coolest papers that everyone is recommending (or critiquing). And perhaps set a goal of reading two interesting papers relevant to your research each week as a good start.
Fellowships and travel grants: Everyone is strongly encouraged to identify opportunities and apply for funding. These awards will enable more opportunities to attend conferences, where networking and broadening your expertise will improve your candidacy for job opportunities in the future. I will do my best to give advice on these applications and make them competitive.
Student and Postdoc's expectation of the PI
In addition to all of the above expectations that apply to every member of the lab, there are additional expectations that students and postdocs can have of the PI:
- You can expect regular one-on-one meetings with me to update on research progress and plan the next steps. Generally you can plan for an hour of one-on-one meeting each week, and can always email me to request additional meetings.
- You can expect that I will assist with brainstorming, writing, and improving postdoc or graduate fellowship applications, travel grants, or other grant applications.
- You can expect that I will proof-read and contribute significantly to the writing of any abstracts and manuscripts stemming from your research in lab.
- You can expect an opportunity to practice, possibly more than once, any talk you will be presenting at conferences or other venues. I will also be happy to provide feedback on structure and content of the slides prior to the practice talk.
- You can expect to discuss with me about your future career goals or any other issues you may have, and tailor the training plans according to these career goals. You can expect these conversations to take place in a safe space and in a confidential manner if you would like.
Tutorials for budding genome scientists
Serghei Mangul, a faculty at the School of Pharmacy, has a great UNIX tutorial if you are not familiar with the UNIX environment. Please start with familiarizing yourself with this, but you can ignore the last bit on using high performance computing cluster (HPCC), which uses UCLA's hoffman cluster.
For an introduction to USC's own HPCC system, please follow the tutorial that Minhui has put together, linked here.