DeGrado lab core values and some expectations of lab members
Welcome to the DGL! This document was developed by our Equity and Social Justice Committee and me (Bill), with input from the entire lab. It reflects our values and expectations of all lab members and visitors. Our group works to gain fundamental understandings of protein function, which sometimes leads to the development of impactful molecules for society. But the most important product of the DGL is a stream of rigorous scientists, who go on to leadership positions in teaching, research, policy, and industry. By adhering to the following set of core values, we strive to develop not only the scientific ability of each person but also the ethical values and empathy that lead to long and successful careers. We also believe strongly in our personal and scientific diversity, and we strive to create an environment where we each member learns from one another.
Every lab member will uphold and adhere to UCSF’s PRIDE values. Additionally, each member agrees to the following set of values and responsibilities.
We respect the basic dignity of every lab member and visitor, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, family status, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship status, and religious beliefs. We strive to treat all others with humanity, courtesy, understanding, kindness and compassion. We acknowledge that our individual perspectives may differ but nonetheless remain equally valid; and we commit to making the time and space to empathize with other points of view. We recognize that none of us are perfect in this regard, but we all have a responsibility to improve – and to help our coworkers improve as well. We must maintain an environment where it is OK to discuss issues as they arise, and we must hold ourselves and others to our core values.
Diversity and inclusivity
We celebrate the individuals that contribute to our diverse community, and value their scientific and societal contributions. We strive to promote their work and accomplishments in an equitable manner. We recognize that diversity leads to innovation, but innovation is not the only reason to promote diversity: To promote diversity is to promote people’s basic humanity. We aim to promote diversity in multiple areas including demographics, policies, communications, pedagogy, student learning. We also consider diversity with respect to recruitment, hiring and retention, evaluation, and supervision. We strive to provide mentoring opportunities to – and in turn to learn from – underrepresented members of society, including members of LGBTQ and BIPOC communities as well as individuals with diverse educational and financial backgrounds.
We believe Black lives matter. We recognize the pervasiveness of systemic institutional racism in all aspects of life, and while at lab we are particularly conscious of its impact on scientists and science.
We will hold each other accountable for upholding these values. We must assure that our lab provides an environment where all can learn from one another, and each person can pursue their scientific interests and succeed. We welcome feedback (including corrective feedback) without prejudice. We are committed to becoming active allies to those experiencing discrimination. As individuals and as a collective we commit to challenge racism, misogyny/sexism, ableism, transphobia, queerphobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, anti-Indigeneity and other dehumanizing biases. We will never tolerate discriminatory behavior or speech, and we will collectively act quickly to confront and address any issues that arise. If group members witness such behavior, they are encouraged to notify me. As a professor at UCSF, I am obligated to report any issues of sexual harassment to a Title IX officer.
Lab members come from very different backgrounds, both professionally and personally. No person – grad students and postdocs alike – is expected to be able to do it all from day one. We value the training of our lab members to become competent in new methods, techniques, and scientific communication. We do not look down on anyone for not understanding a “basic” technique; we instead see it as a learning and teaching opportunity. Members of our lab will go on to be leaders in industry and academia, and we want everyone to be competent, confident in their technical abilities, and capable of creating environments of inclusion.
We work together to set clear expectations and goals for training. I strongly encourage each lab member to write a thorough individual development plan (IDP), which we will discuss one-on-one periodically and update on an annual basis (or more frequently as needed). I expect that different trainees will favor various mentorship styles, ranging from total independence to needing more regular feedback. The full gamut of mentorship styles can be accommodated and stated clearly in the IDP. I am generally not a micro-manager and lean more towards the independence side of the spectrum if this parameter is allowed to float freely. In addition to regular scientific interactions, each trainee should expect to have regular, scheduled one-on-one meetings with me every one to three weeks, as requested by the trainee. My door is open for additional discussions (or Zoom meetings in this time of COVID).
We value working collaboratively. Your success is everyone’s success. We value actively seeking out mentorship inside and outside the lab. We encourage each lab member to make themselves available when people reach out to them. We believe in the golden rule (or Kant’s categorical imperative). Each lab member is expected to be ethical, respectful, and understand how their actions can impact others. Every lab member is also responsible for some form of lab upkeep. We strive to share these jobs faithfully and equitably – and to acknowledge each other’s efforts. Finally, every lab member gets a say about new hires.
We value outreach tremendously. We aim to make our databases and code publically available on Github and elsewhere, and to communicate our work to the broader public. We also work with students from local schools, who sometimes do research in the lab. We encourage everyone to contribute within their abilities to such efforts, and recognize colleagues’ contributions along these lines. In addition to recognition of service in group meeting, I host an annual group lunch/dinner to recognize our efforts, usually catered from one of the many great, local BIPOC-owned restaurants in San Francisco. Past students are invited to attend.
We respect each lab member’s pursuit of their own career path, whether that be in academia, industry, or elsewhere. While most people go on to a career in research after leaving the lab, we encourage and support any career path that provides fulfillment and continuing challenges. For those pursuing research-related jobs, I prioritize publishing quality research papers, since without good papers, job opportunities might be scarce. Those seeking non-research careers may however need to prioritize publishing differently. While I encourage these alternative routes, please note that those who are funded by R01, P01, or related grants have an obligation to turn out important science. It is important to emphasize that publishing is an ethical imperative, because the grant supports research and not just training (and no one in society benefits if the work is not published). Finally, I encourage trainees to take advantage of the full range of programs available at UCSF and the Bay Area that are designed to provide exposure to a variety of job types, for example careers in academics, industry, advocacy, consulting, and patent law, or other career and life pursuits.
We value recognizing each contribution to a scientific project. For authorship, we generally feel that a person should do experiments or computations that are presented in the paper or that led to the experiments in the papers. At the outset of writing, I generally meet with the lead authors and make suggestions about potential authorship. When there is a question as to whether an individual’s contributions merit authorship I will insist that the lead authors discuss this openly with potential co-authors. In almost every case, authorship is decided in an equitable and agreeable manner amongst the researchers. However, if agreement is not reached, I am responsible for adjudicating the difference until an equitable solution is reached. We may at this point refer to standard protocols used at UCSF and elsewhere. Also, in cases where other labs are involved, it is my responsibility to advocate for our own lab members, while understanding the contributions of other groups. Every coauthor should read the paper and contribute in some way to the writing.
Authorship order is not strictly set until the manuscript is submitted. Even then, if reviewers request a large body of additional work that requires one author to make a contribution that no longer is consistent with their order on the manuscript, authorship order can change. We must be willing to reassess our contributions and how they contributed to the manuscript at all stages.
When our work leads to patent applications, we require that all people who contribute to the work to identify their inventive contributions in writing. The attorney handling the patent will make the decision concerning the inclusion of inventors based on this information.
We support open access of information. Papers should be deposited on BioRxiv or ChemRxiv at the time of submission, unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. Code and databases should be appropriately commented and made available to members within and outside of our group via Github. Plasmids should be submitted to Addgene, and we have a responsibility to share chemicals and reagents so long as the requests are reasonable.
Our group meeting format is generally split into 1) a 30-45 min presentation (quick recap of previous work and then most current efforts) by one lab member followed by discussion, and then 2) a survey of current literature by a small group of lab members that might be interesting to our group. We encourage newer members to meet individually with presenters for additional project background for clarity. We try to achieve an equitable distribution of question askers, and to be aware if we are taking up too much airtime with our own questions. We encourage further discussions that occur after group meeting. The discussions that occur after the meeting are frequently the most important part of group meeting!
We have subgroup meetings that are more focused on a particular topic, e.g. protein design, amyloids, or membrane proteins. These meetings are a time when people share not only what worked but what did not work. By reviewing failures we tend to make them only once in the group rather than having different individuals repeat them over and over. In small groups we develop the ideas and figures for papers. Most importantly, small groups are often where we come up with things we would not have considered individually. That means unstructured time when people have enough information about a problem to dig in, and enough time that each individual can contribute. We need to not be afraid of silent pauses, which allow the more reticent members (who might need longer to formulate their thoughts) to contribute.
Finally, we celebrate each other’s accomplishments! Poster awards, papers accepted, qualifying exams passed, thesis defences, invited talks, grants submitted, grants awarded… these are all milestones in a scientific career worth noting and celebrating. We also celebrate birthdays :) All social lab events should be fully inclusive, and individuals are bound to adhere to the same code of ethics and values that hold in lab. Finally, we remain mindful that we should try to schedule group social functions at times when the most people can attend, and to vary the times of such events to encourage the widest participation possible.