Lab Resources


UNL Help during the Pandemic

Finance Based Resources for Grad Students at University of Nebraska

Big Red Resilience and Well-being - Finance Coaching

Community Resources – Husker Pantry Food Bank

Coronavirus and Your Financial Health: Answers, tips, and advice for staying financial well during COVID-19.

Husker Hub – A place to help you navigate the business of being a Husker (financial aid, student bills, course enrollment, etc.).

UNL Student Advocacy and Support – The Student Advocacy & Support staff are available to assist you through the medical withdrawal process, point you to the available UNL financial assistance options, and support you through housing related questions and emergency funding options.

UNL University Housing and Dining Services – You can connect with Housing & Dining staff to provide you with information about isolation room options, as well as accommodations related to your housing contract and billing information. Dining staff is available to inform you on meal delivery options.

Career Well-being During COVID-19

Career Services and Employment Options – You can connect with Career Services, including direct support for understanding how to navigate your career planning despite COVID-19. careers.unl.edu/

Intellectual Well-being During COVID-19

The Center for Academic Success and Transition (CAST)-You can connect with an academic success coach to help you learn in the COVID-19 environment. Sign up to connect with coaches on ZOOM, Skype, phone, email, and text messaging. Please make appointments via MyPlan, by calling 402-472-1880, or by emailing success@unl.edu

Emotional Well-being

Big Red Resilience and Well-being: Meet with a well-being coach and learn how to practice gratitude and get results, maintain social connections, cope with stress, and deal with constant change. See here to schedule an appointment.

Center for Advocacy, Response and Education: CARE is a confidential, supportive resource for victims/survivors of interpersonal violence and other crime.

Collegiate Recovery Community: The Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) offers you a supportive environment that strengthens the decision to separate from addiction. At the website you can get connected with a peer in recovery and to learn more about the CRC.

Counseling and Psychological Services: Counseling and Psychological Services is a multidisciplinary team of psychologists and counselors that works collaboratively with you to explore your feelings and thoughts and learn helpful ways to improve their mental, psychological and emotional well-being when issues arise. CAPS offers groups, individual and couples counseling, workshops, alcohol and other drug resources.

Employee Assistance Program: is a confidential service offered to university employees including student employees and their immediate family members at no charge. Services include assessment, short-term counseling and/or referral; an employee emergency loan fund; mediation/conflict resolution; and trauma debriefing.

LGBTQA+ Center works collaboratively to provide education, resources, consultation, outreach and advocacy to build a campus community inclusive of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. The Center also liaises with CAPS for LGBTQA-focused mental health and suicide prevention counseling.

Services for Students with Disabilities: Provides support and accommodations if you are struggling academically due to psychological, physical, or learning disability.

Student Affairs - Student Support and Advocacy: Student Support and Advocacy provides individual support to assist students when they experience personal hardships or health-related concerns and emergencies.

Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training: Offers training and information to students, faculty and staff of UNL on suicide prevention.

Seize the Awkward: Learn ways to enhance your emotional well-being by connecting with others and practicing self-care.


Lab Core Values and Philosophy


Herr Lab Mission

We, as a laboratory, want to produce high quality research in an uncompromising and highly transparent manner. We strive to work on unique problems using rigorous methods and we like to disseminate our work as it occurs and have a strong focus on publishing preprints in addition to the traditional peer review process. Our software and scripts are open access on github, and we continuously amend our policies to make our data and methods more accessible to the community.

Resources

A comprehensive collection of resources for all of the topics discussed here has been compiled to support our development and health. This list grows as we do and can be found here.

Publishing

Publishing preprints and sharing results openly is the key to 21st century science communication. The real end goal of any research is to get the work out there, and I find myself most invested in the final push to posting and preprint than any other subsequent part of the process. We maintain our high scientific standards by publishing preprints of high quality research when it’s ready. The peer-review process of traditional journals can delay important results by months and is often plagued with politics that are harmful to the scientific process as a whole. However, the reality is traditional publishing still provides the highest visibility for work and coordinates qualified reviewers, and so for now, the traditional route can not yet be abandoned. Our current approach involves disseminating our results via preprints and is followed by publishing in traditional journals. See “Beer AND Tacos” above. We currently do both because it gets us where we need to be, but we are full proponents of a modern world of publishing that encompasses transparency, speed, fairness, peer-review, and visibility. This is evolving, and as a group we want to lead by example and be on the vanguard of that change.



Conflicts of Interest

As an advisor, there are often conflicts of interests between what’s best for me and the lab and what’s best for my lab members and their careers. There is opposition between wanting to keep the talent you’ve fostered and helping people to move on with their careers. I am constantly trying to prioritize the aspirations of people. In the end, if I am aligned with people’s long-term goals, most things fall into place.

Mentorship

The most important thing I can do is give people the resources to accomplish what they want to accomplish in the lab, and make sure what they’re doing is setting them up to grow for the position they want next. The kinetics of this is more determined by their personal desires for what they want to do in their career and not on my desires to keep them in the lab longer (see Conflicts of Interest). I recognize the itinerant nature of their career. I’m trying to push people on to what’s next. Always. I try to work as hard as I can to give my lab the resources, including my time and my guidance, towards their goals.

Specifically I aim to:

Career Development

As people’s career preferences evolve over time, I expect people to be engaged in a constant conversation with me. I think about “what’s next” as being such an important part of mentorship because how they think their work in the lab feeds into their longer term career goals allows me to tailor training, networking, conferences, and even aspects of their project around what I think would be most beneficial for their goals. In addition, when you begin in the lab we develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and we will review this plan yearly through surveys, activities, and a focused meeting. In addition, the Avasthi lab has put together a series of great activities that are very helpful in finding your path. I think people’s primary aim while they’re here should be trying to set themselves up for life beyond the lab. People who have been very focused on this have been well motivated, and it becomes really easy to recognize when to cut losses on a project or when to wrap things up and publish. It provides me with clarity of how to direct their work, and I really like having a very constant back and forth about it.

Feedback

We’re all growing, we’re all trying to live up to our core values, and essential to this is an emphasis on feedback. I am always open to feedback on how the lab and I can function better as long as it is respectful. I recognize that I can be defensive when facing criticism when I’m not watching myself, and I always try to fight against that. Because of this, when possible, I like to have a lot of structure with evaluation as it provides the time to digest it. We take formal and informal surveys a couple times a year to give lab members an opportunity to voice how they think things are going. In the winter, we have an anonymous lab survey and have a group discussion. In the summer there is another personally-centered survey that is followed by a one-on-one meeting. Outside of these surveys, you can always come to me privately or otherwise.

I recognize that I don’t always give people the same opportunity of time on feedback I give them. I view it as part of my job to give people critical feedback, and I’m constantly learning to assess how people like to receive it. Some people need time to cool off after a presentation; some people want it written down; some people like to meet in person regarding feedback. I’m constantly learning how to give feedback to different people, and so my way of giving feedback to a person is apt to change over time. Figuring out how to give people effective feedback is iterative and can be a long process, but I’m always trying to improve it.

Well-Being

I like to believe people are pretty good about self-regulating, but I recognize people are able to disguise that they are dealing with more than I can see. Bottom line, your primary concern should always be your physical and mental health. If you ever feel unwell, it’s best to stop what you’re doing (safely) and address the issue. Don’t put off or sacrifice your health and well-being to get in one last experiment.

Health and Personal Emergencies

I trust people, and it’s expected that people will have emergencies. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. If somebody says, “I need some time” that’s all I need to hear, but I’m here to listen, to help, and to provide whatever resources and support I can both personally and professionally. I don’t need to hear any more details unless people are comfortable and they should not mistake my lack of asking with lack of caring or empathy, but rather just that I want to be respectful of people’s space. If you do have to leave the lab, if possible, please let me know what’s going on even if it’s as vague as “personal emergency” or “I need some time” so that we’re in communication about time away and that I know you are ok. In addition, try to pass off, reschedule, or communicate any time sensitive items like deadlines or microscope time. We are a community, and we are here for one another.

Work-Life Balance

I’m not super prescriptive of how people work. I expect people to be really invested in their work and have a presence in the lab, but how they establish their rhythm of work-life balance is up to them. It’s easier to have balance when you’re working hard and enjoying it. I’m much more worried about when people aren’t working hard and are seemingly dissatisfied with the work that they’re doing; it seems to signal a misalignment of their work and life. I like what I do, and as a result I find myself catching up asynchronously. This means I often send email messages outside of working hours. While I try to minimize cutting into others personal time, this is how I achieve my work-life balance. I don’t expect people to respond to my late-night messages, and I expect people to arrange their time for their family, friends, health, relaxation, and recreation. People that don’t get enough recovery time aren’t as effective in the lab, and I want people to be happy.

General Lab Expectations

As a researcher you are expected to develop your knowledge and skills, make incremental progress on your projects, and contribute to the running of the lab. This presupposes a lot of self-initiative and personal responsibility. The biggest driver of your academic career is you. Speak up when you need help or you find yourself going down an undesired path. Outside of this, you are also expected to document all of your work including methods, troubleshooting, and development. This information should be readily available to the rest of the lab. You are also expected to present your research both internally at group meetings a few times a year and to represent the lab at conferences and other national and international meetings. The lab values science communication, and we rely on feedback from group meetings and practice talks to hone our ability to make our science accessible to a variety of communities.

As a member of the lab community you are expected to be a team player. You are expected to follow lab policies, adapt as they evolve, and treat fellow members with respect. This includes respect for peoples’ lab areas and personal space and having consent for actions that will affect them. Lab members always ask permission before using or moving items belonging to a specific person including items in shared areas. Respect also means that when communicating to each other we empower rather than belittle people for their mistakes; we are all learning and growing. We are a collaborative, supportive lab so we ask for guidance from our fellow lab members with the understanding that academic careers get busier with time as people learn to take on more. As self-reliance is important to develop, we try to solve problems on our own first before seeking assistance. Also, you are also expected to contribute to the running of the lab by taking on repeating lab tasks that are rotated biannually.

Communication

Every week, each lab member has a one-on-one meeting with me to talk about current progress, issues, etc. To make the most of these meetings I request that you make an agenda and send it to me in advance of our meeting. In addition, my door is always open, and my mentality is that I work for my students and staff. Here are good guidelines from University of Wisconsin-Madison ICTR of how to make the most out of a mentor/mentee relationship.


This development of this compact was guided by similar compacts and philosophies of several labs: Fraser Lab, UCSF Matreyek Lab, Case Western Reserve University
Syed Lab, University of Minnesota
Heemstra Lab, Emory University
Mentoring resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison ICTR
Moghe Lab, Cornell