Russo Lab Policies: Practices and Procedures for Ambitious
-Paul S. Russo, Laboratory Director (June 06, 2013)
Our lab is for students who want to get ahead in science....while having
fun. The decision to write down a policy reflects the increasing diversity of people we have in the lab over the long
term, everyone from high school students to visiting scientists, and the
different expectations every individual has. In the same
way that rules are meant to be broken, policies are meant to change....so I
eagerly await feedback and suggestions.
Graduate students, fellows and postdocs (a.k.a. Postgraduates).
These lab members are supported by salary or stipend. That
means they are paid to build a career (distinct from a job). Progress
and competence are assessed over the long term. These "postgraduates" have no set hours, but often work
nights, weekends and holidays. They do make themselves available for scheduled
group meetings, seminars, directing student workers and assisting with
outreach/educational activities that are part of the integrative, "broad
environment as defined by the granting agencies with "help" from Congress.
Goals will be established for each "trimester" (fall, spring and summer). Although we sometimes fall
short of goals, it should not be for lack of time spent. The expectation is 55-80 hrs/week, including time spent at home writing
or reading, time in group meeting or seminars, time in classes and time
spent grading or proctoring exams. This does NOT include time spent on Facebook, surfing the web, socializing with friends or hobbies. A good strategy is to take one day
per week (maybe Sunday) to do all that kind of stuff not related to science.
Spending ten hours/day for the remaining
six days should get you through years 2, 3 and 4 of graduate life. Year 1
will usually require greater effort, as will Year 5 (if you need Year 5 at all).
Keeping track of your hours on a "science log" may help at first.
For many students, graduate school will be the hardest they ever worked.
Research Comes First for grad students & postdocs (after the first semester of
graduate school). If they are taking a class, that's a hobby. Homework for
that class is best done at home (ironic, eh?).
If 80 hours/week isn't enough to stay on track with your goals, see me
about redefining the goals, making better use of Pregraduate researchers
(below) or learning to work faster. It is my job to help you with these
things. When I cannot help, we sometimes seek the advice of others.
Postgraduate researchers are not just robots, executing a plan handed to
them. They are expected to spend some time eagerly seeking discoveries and
pondering new pathways. Also, many of the problems they face on a
daily basis have no known solution....anywhere. They have to MAKE a project
produce a useful result--that does NOT mean the "right" result!!!
Salaried employees will be reviewed at the end of each semester. As
required by LSU policy, students will receive a formal grade on the usual
satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. A U grade always carries severe
consequences. Postdoctoral researchers also receive a periodic, formal
evaluation as required by the university. Additionally, all salaried employees will receive an A-F
informal grade, possibly with explanatory comments and observations, at the
end of each semester. This is to ready you for the ugly world ahead, but I
hope it is not too painful (for either of us).
Considerations for Graduate Students (GS)
GS will typically be assigned to
a project for the first 1-2 years for training purposes; this
will lead either to a MS thesis, a submitted paper, or both.
At any time, GS are encouraged to
develop their own research ideas. Whether or not we can execute these
ideas depends on whether the idea is consistent with the funded
mission of the laboratory, but students should feel free to
spend about 15% of their time and allocated supplies resources
in pursuit of their own ideas. They can also write minigrants
(see our current NSF proposal).
GS are expected to SOLVE PROBLEMS
using literature resources, fellow students, friends at other
universities--whatever it takes; however, after reasonable effort (a few days)
it is appropriate to contact me. There is no point floundering too long, but
sometimes the answer may come as a "clue" or "hint". Other times, you may be
shown the answer directly.....if I know it! Do NOT expect me to know all the
answers--no one would give us money to explore new things if that were the case.
GS are strongly encouraged to write fellowship grants
throughout their tenure for research money, stipend funds, travel funds, etc…
Some have been spectacularly successful!
GS can write minigrants to use
some of our NSF $$$. These are peer-reviewed (by people outside
our group, mostly).
GS are encouraged to train and supervise
undergraduate and high school visitors. You can learn a LOT by (trying to) teach
others. It sometimes seems hopeless, though. The main advantage may be to
you. You will become a better asker of questions once you have this experience,
GS are encouraged to attend SOME research
conferences, especially in the last few years of their tenure. Lab will only pay
for travel and fees if funds are available, and if the student is the main
presenter...and then only if we have the dough.
GS are expected to perform
internal review assignments for other laboratory members and
other scientists at all levels within the Macromolecular
More than anything, GS are
expected to "catch fire"--i.e., become the person who needs
almost no direction and who can defend their ideas and results
on an international stage.
Difference between MS, PhD and Postdoctoral lab members
MS: learning the skills of
research and broadening his or her base of knowledge.
PhD: learning to be an innovative
global leader, building a storehouse of ideas and trying them,
seeking challenges and finding better solutions, taking
ownership and pride in their project.
Postdoc: platform for
launching a successful career; studying another group's
operations with a eye towards being a leader in the very near
future, whether in academics, industry or other career.
Considerations for Postdocs (PD)
PD are hired mainly
for three reasons: 1) to perform specific research tasks faster than
we can do otherwise; 2) to meet the lab's mission to train
exceptional individuals for a leading research career (not just a
job); and, 3) to bridge the gap between lab director and students by
being approachable and communicating to students about their recent
experiences (these differ from mine by almost 30 years).
are encouraged to develop own research ideas. Whether or not we can execute them
depends on whether the idea is consistent with the funded mission of the
laboratory, but PDs should feel free to spend about 25% of their time and
allocated supplies resources in pursuit of their own ideas.
PDs are expected to SOLVE
PROBLEMS and to FIND NEW PROBLEMS.
PDs may be asked to write fellowship grants throughout their tenure
for research money, and they should be developing new proposals and ideas to propel their
future careers (but not to the exclusion of duties in the lab; afterall, the
papers from the PD experience are a key component to future success).
PDs are expected to perform
internal review assignments for other laboratory members and other
scientists at all levels within the Macromolecular program.
PDs are encouraged to attend SOME research conferences
and should use these opportunities to establish a network of future
PDs are expected to
attend Macro and other relevant seminars, assuming a leadership role
in that communications-intensive experience.
Undergraduate students, summer interns and high school students
These employees are paid by the hour to do a job, perhaps as a prelude
to a career-developing opportunity (grad school, med school, law school)
later. That job is never
surfing the web or visiting a Facebook page. Nor is it studying for a
midterm or final exam. There are easier jobs on campus than working in a
lab; if easy is what you seek, please seek it elsewhere. Even though your
mission here is to accomplish a job, we want to make this opportunity
available to people who will leverage that job to promote their career.
Pre-graduate lab members are welcome to "hang out" in the lab to use its
desk spaces or computers not associated with an instrument for their own
academic or personal pursuits.....but they cannot bill this as work time! Students
are on the honor system to report time honestly, but a postgraduate lab
member has to sign for the time in keeping with Department policy. Students
must keep track of their time and inform the Lab Director when all money
allocated to them has been spent.
Pregraduate lab members will be assigned to TWO graduate students,
fellows or postdocs. One will be the primary director, and the other will
serve as backup director. The primary and backup directors will communicate
with each other at laboratory meetings to remain familiar with what the
pregraduate worker is doing.
Pregraduate duties are roughly divided into "research" and "fixit". In
the case of HS students, "research" time requires a formal appointment with
their supervisors, as described here.
Pregraduate lab members must contact their director and backup director
as soon as possible in case they cannot work at their appointed time. This
will permit the directors to rebudget their time. An E-mail or text message is
usually sufficient. A copy to the lab director (Professor Russo) is also a
The director or co-director will initial the Pre-graduate lab member's
time sheet each week (preferably each day of work because this is easier to
remember). Time may be subtracted for not wearing safety equipment or other
safety violations (0.25
hours per incident).
Pre-graduates are welcome to work holidays and weekends, if their
directors agree. The time can be kept informally until timesheets are
available again. This can make the semesters less hectic, ensuring the
student has a meaningful research experience.
As Pre-graduate employees become more familiar with their research, they
will gain more freedom to explore independently. Pre-graduates have
co-authored some of our best papers!
I have the following main functions:
1. Try to maintain a safe laboratory. Lab members who do not follow
safe policies (everything from labeling samples correctly to getting
enough sleep before entering the lab) will have lab privileges
2. Say when something is good enough (set standards). Sometimes this
means "stop trying to make it perfect". Old people have little tolerance
for perfection, having never seen it except perhaps in their young
children. Other times setting standards means, "Not good
3. Decide overall direction of research (areas we study).
4. Determine the magnitude of effort (find money to execute the
5. Train students to understand "the system" by which research is
conducted here and abroad. Most of the training will be in an academic
setting, but we endeavor to give students with other aspirations a
chance to explore.
6. Teach research by direct example (if there is time). Students
are welcome to shadow me (quietly) on those few days when I venture
forth to do
something in the lab.
7. Formative and summative evaluation. The first is for students, the
second is for the benefit of people who would hire them (Most industrial employers
don't ask anymore because there is so little energy of activation to
firing someone these days; why ask professors--clearly we are out of
the loop--what we think about someone when you can just hire people and
fire them if
it does not work out?).
8. Find what you are good at doing consistent with our goals and try
to get you trained for it. This does NOT mean letting you off the hook
just because you don't like certain aspects of an assignment.
9. Promotion of your career, consistent with your abilities. No
promises, but this group claims way more than its share of the
Department's distinguished and accomplished graduates. And probably less
than its share of stupid and meaningless awards.
Timeline for Getting Your Degree Here
Timeline for someone who arrives with BS
degree, intending to pursue PhD with a MS thesis on the way*
Survive, choose group. Courses come first.
Research comes first (RCF); project will be assigned. Courses
are a hobby now.
Develop an idea for your general exam independent proposal.
Write independent proposal for general exam.
Begin learning PhD project by writing prospectus/intro (50-100
(Can you publish it as a review?)
Begin writing MS thesis (and associated paper, if appropriate).
Complete writing of MS thesis + continue learning PhD project.
This semester is critical! You are now an RCF person, but one who
must tend to the not-so-fun side of research--proving your worth and
demonstrating results. For that reason, here's a suggested
*September: Shine up your MS thesis + consider whether there is a paper from MS to submit now? If so,
include a draft of it as supplementary information provided to be
provided to MS defense
*October: Prepare for General Exam in terms of understanding the PhD
project, writing a good "prior arts" section for the research
prospectus (approximately 50 references you understand), posing
hypotheses and proposing how you will solve them, specifying back-up
plans, provide something like a reasonable time frame and budget
(see Petroleum Research Fund ND Subprogram guidelines below).
*November: Convene MS & General Exam committees on the same day. If
all goes well--it usually does!--you emerge with MS degree in hand
and PhD candidacy, too!
*December: take a break, you have earned it.
General exam unless taken in previous trimester.
Strategic courses OK.
research, all the time (ARAT).
so sure about taking courses anymore.....can you learn it yourself? Sometimes,
a course is still worthwhile, though--LSU Chemistry is a small
department, so it struggles to offer courses often enough.
ARAT + is there a paper from PhD to publish now?
ARAT + write complete draft of dissertation.
Data Defense (cannot be scheduled without complete draft of
dissertation on a shelf)
Start thinking about postdocs and/or jobs.
Data defense will NOT be scheduled until there is a complete draft
of dissertation sitting on a shelf.
ARAT + shine your dissertation.
Defend dissertation if there' s a job waiting AND the required
accepted paper; otherwise, more research and/or papers.
defense will be scheduled without at least one accepted manuscript
with you as lead author (sometimes two authors are identified as
Don't even ask to schedule an exam without that accepted paper.
Also, the defense will not be scheduled until I can go page after
page after page without finding even the slightest style or
grammatical flaw. Dissertations from this group wil be like Mary
Poppins: practically perfect in every way. This ensures your
evaluation committee can focus on the science without any
distractions. Also, it will help them feel comfortable writing
strong letters of support.
no job, continue one semester as student or postdoc (highly
qualified students only) and write papers. Students seeking a real
career, not just a job, will need more than one paper. I hold that
2-3 papers is as good as 5-8, though. The point is to suggest to
prospective employers you can complete projects to the satisfaction
of peer reviewers....time and time again.
support ends, even if there is money; TA support may continue.
probably have to petition Grad School after this. Don't get into
*Students entering with a MS degree are accelerated by about 1 year beginning in
Master's Degree Policy
Graduate students who arrive in this laboratory without a previous Master's Degree
must write a MS thesis, even if their eventual goal is the PhD. Normally, the introduction and literature background
can be written in the third trimester (first summer of residence). The
entire document should be written by the end of the 2nd summer of residence (sixth trimester). The actual defense of the thesis can be in the early part
of the the 7th trimester. It is expected that the thesis will contain
sufficient work to lead to one manuscript submission (i.e., the MS thesis
can be distilled down to at least one publication). Whether or not we pull
the trigger on the submission(s) depends on the quality of the work.
Normally, the MS work and planned PhD work bear SOME relation...so it isn't
that much more work to get the MS on the way to PhD.
Students who arrive with a MS degree should prepare and submit a draft
manuscript for publication in the same period of time.
No student of this laboratory will even TRY to schedule a defense with
their committee until these
documents are fully written and reviewed by their peers and by Professor Russo.
For students stopping at the MS degree, I will not write
letters of recommendation or answer phonecalls from employers concerning future employment
until a complete draft has been prepared. The kind of employer you wish to
work for is willing to respect the effort you put into your education and
will wait. If you really want the job, they won't have to wait long, either!
One purpose of the mandatory MS policy is to make strong writers early on
and to render the writing of the PhD dissertation a less imposing task. It's a
learn-to-walk-before-you-run policy. It should NOT lengthen the total time
to PhD for those students who intend to continue to the PhD. Another
purpose of the required MS policy is to make sure students get SOMETHING out
of their graduate career, even if health or personal issues interfere in
later years (suppose you fall ill in Year 4 and have to quit graduate
school; then it would be helpful to at least have the MS degree to show for
your time). This policy protects you!
This internal policy can run afoul of the Department's infinite wisdom
that the PhD general exam must be taken by the 7th trimester (fall semester
of the third year in residence). We can petition for an extension if needed,
but let's try not to need it.
Time: The expected time to PhD is 4-5 years, including getting the MS degree.
Students who arrive with a MS degree in Chemistry or another relevant
discipline should expect to complete their PhD in 3-4 years.
Every day you spend here, as opposed to a "real job", costs
you about $200 - $250. The financial loss isn't the worst part; losing
opportunities is. Doors open once you have your PhD, and the sooner you CAN
walk through those open doors the better. If you don't really like the door
that opens, you can always opt NOT to walk through it and stay here as a
PhD-in-waiting student or short-term postdoc (for exceptional individuals).
Independent Proposal: Students should start writing their independent proposal in the third or
fourth trimester, which might be before cumulative exams have been passed.
This will be before the MS thesis is complete. The main purpose of the
ever-controversial independent proposal, according to its proponents within
the faculty, is to demonstrate some spark. This laboratory follows
the Department rules BUT with the added requirement that we consult the
guidelines and "boilerplate" (cover page, introductory documents, suggested
reviewers, budget, etc.) specified by the Petroleum Research Fund (ND
subprogram). The "oil-related" requirement of the PRF guidelines is
ignored (but it's often not very difficult to make your project oil-related). See me to obtain copies of previous students' general exams for examples of how to make
this work. No faculty committee has yet complained about our policy of
following a standard format rather than the "reinvent the wheel" approach
the Department, in its infinite wisdom, chose. The cover page of the example
exam you will receive explains our
Research Prospectus: PhD-intending students should begin writing the research prospectus about
the fifth trimester (spring of Year #2) which is again before the MS thesis
is complete. The purpose of the research prospectus is to demonstrate
UNDERSTANDING and a PLAN of the upcoming research project. It helps to have
some preliminary data, but that is not the purpose. The committee can judge
research capabilities and ability to complete a job based on the MS thesis
and/or submitted manuscript. What they are looking for at the General Exam is a clear
understanding of what you're trying to do, why it's important, what you will
do if something goes wrong, and how long
the research will take (timeline). The introductory part of the document should be a
review with perhaps 50-100 references. The middle should show whatever
preliminary results you have so far, along with clearly identified questions
suggested by these preliminary results. Many committee members expect to see
well-formed hypotheses that can be tested. They expect some knowledge of the
limits of the testing methods. You should specify what you will do if one
part of the research proves to be a blind alley (for example, if the
inherent color of a solution you hope to measure by light scattering proves
to be a problem, what would you do next?) An appendix showing anticipated
dissertation chapters and possibly even a preliminary outline of some
chapters is helpful.
Data Defense, Complete Draft and Dissertation on a Shelf: Most lab
members follow the Macromolecular Seminar policies. In most groups, this
means a "data defense" is scheduled about 2 trimesters before the
anticipated completion of dissertation writing.
In our lab,
the data defense will not be scheduled until there is a "complete draft" of
the dissertation. This is called "dissertation on a shelf".
A complete draft means each chapter is present in more than just
skeletal form. The complete draft may be waiting for a few minor data
points, repeat measurements on some critical experiments, or grammatical and
spelling improvements. It cannot be a 5-chapter dissertation where only the
introductory chapter is written! Get the dissertation done first, put it
down, do the data defense and go job hunting. I will not write letters of recommendation or answer phonecalls
concerning future employment until there is a "complete draft" of the
dissertation on the shelf, awaiting just the little final touches. Students in this laboratory will not even
attempt to schedule their
dissertation defense until the complete draft stage. It's far better to have
the dissertation essentially complete, then work on smoothing it and/or
distilling it into manuscripts while seeking jobs. Once you have a job offer
in hand, just pull the dissertation of the shelf, make a few minor
updates, and defend! This avoids all
the usual stress and hassles, while giving you a clearer mind to evaluate
job offers and your future. This requirement is designed to relieve stress!
What Goes Into the Dissertation: Work that has been published in sufficient detail that someone could
reproduce the results does not have to appear in the dissertation.
If it does appear, all co-authors must be specified clearly and your role
must be evident. YOU would then write material ("glue") explaining how the
work fits into the overall thematic document. This may include extra detail
not available in the paper, speculations not usually tolerated by journals,
and ideas for future research. Unlike the paper itself, this prose must
absolutely be written by the PhD candidate ONLY (with critique from friends, labmates and me, of course). It would also be possible
to write your own chapter on a published subject, then add the published document as an appendix. A
draft manuscript based on the work could be supplied to the readers as
supplemental information. In any case, It is essential that the dissertation
committee can judge YOUR contribution. This differs from the policies of
some of my Department colleagues. If you want to work someplace
that permits you to glue together a bunch of papers you didn't write, then
call it your dissertation, choose another group.
It is often and said that you aren't getting a degree in
Chemistry--you are getting a degree in writing! That isn't quite true, but
it may seem so. Even so, this laboratory does not count papers. Some are
way better than others, so
what would be the point? Nevertheless, every degreed graduate student should
(MS) or must (PhD) publish at least one paper.
After 2-3 years of PhD work or 1-2 years of MS work, SOMETHING must have
happened that is interesting to the public at large, who pay taxes to support
your research and professional development. There is no set policy for postdocs because they know what it
MS students will be ready to submit one (1) manuscript before or
soon after their
thesis defense. Whether we actually submit it depends on quality, patent
PhD students must have one (1) manuscript ACCEPTED by a peer-reviewed
journal before even attempting to schedule their dissertation defense. We
are not impact factor snobs, but it's important to choose a journal that can
select knowledgeable reviewers.
The PhD student working towards a career (not just a job) is strongly
advised to author more than one paper. This demonstrates you are not a
one-hit wonder. Even in Louisiana, more people know
John Lennon than
Fred. The difference is the number of #1 hits.
A clear path to any papers beyond the accepted one must be delivered.
The guiding principle is that number of papers doesn't matter, but
publishing what is publishable is our duty to the taxpayer. If there is just the one paper, so be it.
Normally, students prepare a strong first draft of the manuscript. After
several iterations and internal peer review, this is what gets submitted.
Much effort is going in to shortening the process, but it's still too slow.
You should take charge of the process to the degree I will let
you....waiting for me is too slow! By the same token, if I seem to be
reluctant about a paper there could be a valid reason for it that I cannot
yet consciously formulate or explain. One of the few happy consequences of
age is a sixth sense about when something is about to go badly.
Graduate Students before data defense have a defined desk space IN THE
Postdoctoral Researchers and graduate students after data defense may
have a defined desk space in the lab, in addition to Choppin 228.
Undergrads and high school students do not normally need a desk space, as their jobs
usually keep them on their feet. If space is not used by a more senior lab
member, Pre-graduates may "camp" temporarily to analyze data or even hang out
between classes (as long as they are "off the clock"--i.e., not billing us
Laboratory space associated with equipment can only be used for the
intended purpose. For example, no one should sit at the desks devoted to the
microscopes, electronics repair bench, DLS desks, etc., unless they are
using these instruments. As already stated, it's questionable whether
desk space at all, while postgraduate students who need more space will find
plenty of it in the library or student union.
Grad students can "camp" (temporarily!)
in Room 228 if desk space is not in use there. Unless there is a real need
for privacy (practicing a preparation, making a phonecall to a potential
employer) the door to Room 228 door should stay
open; we will lose that room if it seems not to be occupied. It is not the
"antisocial" room. Once you have your PhD, your employer may elect to give
you that kind of space. Or not...for example, IBM employees generally share offices.
Rarely does a company have a "closed door" policy--another benefit
of academics is that professors do get closable doors! Not that we can use
them; thanks to our litigious society, only a fool closes a door to talk to
Bench space in the lab is divided into "communal" and "individual" space,
and the little black "dividing fencers" (a.k.a. "peacemakers") define where
those spaces are. Label it or lose it!
Food in lab
No food is allowed in Choppin 230, 236, 238 or 240. Food may be stored in
Choppin 228 and be eaten there or in the lobby. A refrigerator is provided
in Choppin 228, along with a microwave. This space primarily belongs to
postdoc(s) and post-data-defense graduate students, so be respectful of
their needs for quiet.
Computers associated with a piece of laboratory equipment can NOT be used
for general web browsing; normally, they will be disconnected from the
internet except to update antivirus software or perform research-relevant
activities. It is permissible to use those computers to e-mail
yourself a copy of data or images, search for the right procedure for Kohler
illumination, refresh your memory on the Siegert relationship or tend to
other technical matters directly related to an experiment.
It is NOT
permitted to use instrument computers to do general e-mail, check on Facebook or Twitter, shop on Ebay,
etc. The reason for this policy is the "delicate" condition of
science instrument computers. They often use special DMA settings, IRQs
reserved for the apparatus, or specialized software that is easily corrupted
or subject to changes in the registry. This software is not tested as
thoroughly as, say, Excel. So it takes rather little to cause a failure.
Computers can easily be wiped out by the addition of, say, a
Cyrillic font set.
A general purpose computer is available in Choppin 228 (currently, the
Shuttle computer). It can be reached by VPN and has sometimes-useful
software (e.g., full Adobe Acrobat, not just Reader). A fast HP computer is also available by VPN (below).
Any data or images gathered must be backed up onto another computer or
the cloud by the end of the research day.
The best way to do this is by sending it to yourself via e-mail or storing
data in a cloud file. USB keys must NOT be used!
If someone removes your
week-old data to make room for new measurements, causing you to lose
everything, that is YOUR fault.
SyncToy (free from Microsoft) to back up data from your laptop to a PC that is NOT related
to an instrument.
One or more computers will be made available for remote desktop service. These computers permit you to use special
software that is too expensive to provide throughout the lab (e.g.,
Photoshop, MATLAB). These machines
can also be reached from your home (you need the VPN client--see me or the
Department Computer staff). They can provide direct access to SciFinder and
most journals LSU libraries gets without having to go through the Web of Science
interface. Their listed printers can also be used for printing--e.g., print
something big while visiting another lab on campus and pick it up when you
return to Choppin. Unfortunately, only one person can be tied into each
"connected" computer at
once. Be sure to exit the computer once you are done, so that others can use
it. If you force your way into what seems to be an active session and find
it's really in use, just disconnect immediately and call the user (if you
can divine who it is) with an apology. The previous user should be able to
resume activities shortly.
From time-to-time, our laboratory collaborates with others. These
activities can range from a simple afternoon of helping someone get a
viscosity to months or years of combined effort. Consult me to establish the priority of a collaboration relative to
your main activities. Collaborators must follow our labeling scheme for samples
which remain in the laboratory, and they must follow our instrument use
guidelines and practices. Understand that students and postdocs from some
laboratories are placed under enormous pressure for "results"; if you
feel you are being pressured by them to do poor science, again consult me. You can't get in the middle of this kind of issue; these things
have to be handled from the top down. Normally, we produce a report on
collaborations (except the very trivial) in the form of a Macromolecules
draft manuscript. This is an exercise; you should not expect that the report
actually gets published, although it might be. Usually, the authorship and
credit for any significant collaboration will have been discussed among the
senior collaborators before the project is even mentioned to you. It's a
good idea to ask about these arrangements.
The chemical labs (230 and 238) are "goggles always" zones. The optical
labs (238 and 240) can sometimes be used without splash goggles, but laser
goggles may be appropriate. Pre-graduate workers, who are paid hourly, will
be docked 0.25 hours for each instance of goggle abuse. Postgraduate workers
may see their grade (the official LSU grade) lowered as a result of goggle abuse.
Lab Manager (Checklist)
Normally, one graduate student will be asked
to serve as Lab manager. Duties include:
*Keeping adequate supplies of
common use items (Kimwipes, towels, 13-mm tubes, vials)
*Calling waste disposal at least
twice a month to remove chemicals (whether or not bottle is full--stuff gets
dangerous as it ages).
*Scheduling lab cleanups on an as-needed
basis (if I have to get involved, it will be by "dumping" on the lab
please don't put that person in a bad position).
Typically 2 hours. The schedule will be set at the
beginning of each trimester. Agenda varies, but typically on each meeting day, one person will be assigned to
coordinate and lead the session. On most days, one lab member will present a
paper from an assigned list (about 20 minutes) and then others will give shorter
presentations on papers from their assigned journals. Presentations should be
loaded onto ONE laptop, so we can switch quickly. Quick progress reports will
follow, with each lab member expected to have something to say in the following
categories: success, problem, idea.
Another group meeting motif will be to invite your
committee members to attend for an update. This is designed to prevent shock and
dismay later in the process, and to make the dissertation defense easier for
Shop Use: Machine, Glass, Electronics, NMR,
MS, SAXS, Microscopy, XPS
Every student should always have something in the shops.
LSU is blessed with really fabulous shops, even compared to the very finest
universities, and there is always some way to make something better. Just
because something works, doesn't mean it's ergonomically efficient. Make it
better! Challenge the status quo! Finally, tell me what it
costs so I can keep track of how much money is left.
Lab supplies are treated much the same as space. Some
things are communal, some can become "yours"....but only if you replace things
taken from the communal supply. Let's illustrate good behavior with an example.
Suppose a lab member needs six (6) clean volumetric flasks for careful DLS or dn/dc
work. That many are on the shelf, and they are perfectly clean too (indicated by
aluminum foil cap). But the need will be recurrent. What should that worker do? Answer by
1. Order eight (8) new volumetric flasks
and put them on the communal shelf when they arrive.
2. Until then, place a note on the
shelf that new flasks
have been ordered.
3. Take the six from the shelf right
now to get a quick start....and hoard them until they can be returned at the end
of all experiments.
This procedure makes sure we don't run out of stuff in the long term
(ordering 8 when you take only 6 ensures our supply grows and/or guards against
breakage) and gets the science off to a faster start than waiting for new flasks
to arrive. People are not too frustrated because flasks not there yesterday are
at least on order already.
Follow good drawer/cabinet labeling practice. If something is in it, a label
is required saying what.
- Supplies: Lab members will receive "block grants" for supplies. You ask
me for money. I tell you "go ahead for $1000". You keep track of all the
little expenses, not me! When you run out of money, ask for more. It is
usually available. Block grants mean I don't have to make a spreadsheet
entry every time you buy new filters. You must do that, though!
- People paid hourly: I will tell you that you have $XXX dollars. You will
translate this into hours of employment and keep track of your hours (just
sum together the hours you have turned into Amy Commander). When you run
out, ask for more.
- NMR, IR, TEM, SAXS, Machine Shop, Electronics Shop, etc. All these
things cost! It helps me if you obtain an estimate of the cost of whatever
Graduate students, postdocs and fellows
- Should not exceed 3 weeks per year: as already stated, every day you
spend in graduate school instead of a real job costs you >$200!
- Holidays are iffy: Christmas, New Years and July 4th are examples of
"real" holidays when no one works. Memorial Day, Labor Day and Mardi Gras
are good days to work.
- Please tell me before you buy the tickets! Sometimes, things are in the
planning stage (e.g., beamline trips).
- Make sure your TA responsibilities, if any, are covered by the
instructor of the course(s) to which you are assigned.
- Make sure you notify the Graduate Office, in case we need to reach you
for an emergency.
Undergraduates, HS students, etc.
- Vacations with your family comes first...you will relish those fights
with your siblings someday.
- Consider working through your holidays! We can figure out how to
complete the timesheets.