Lab Social Contract

Dear Prospective and Current Members of the Schloss Lab,

What I describe below is a social contract that I would like to enter into with you and have you enter into with the other members of the lab. I am very proud of the community of scientists we have attracted to the research group. You have been selected to join the lab because Pat and the rest of the group think you’re awesome. It is important to me that we maintain a supportive environment so that everyone can do their best science. Before the science, my goal is to create an inclusive educational environment where we can grow as people and scientists to achieve our long term scientific and career goals. I might go so far as to say that the science is a vehicle to help individuals develop a long list of skills that may or may not propel them forward as a microbiome scientist - but they will help them to achieve their career goals. Our goals are going to be different for each person and will evolve over time.

Undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral education are critical components for most careers in science where people value independence and upward mobility. I also care deeply about the development of professional staff in the lab and want to see their skills and interests grow over their tenure in the lab. Although we all differ in our backgrounds, expertise, goals, and interests I seek to maintain a relatively flat organizational structure where each person can have as much access to me as they need. At the same time, I expect everyone in the group to demonstrate leadership by sharing their personal expertise to help advance the work of others.

You should have a list of things you would like to learn and apply to your research or keep in your back pocket. These can be as simple as improving time management to learning d3js. You will never develop these skills unless you engage in deliberate practice to develop them. Plan ahead at the scale of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly for when and how you will develop these skills. The transition to graduate school can be difficult for many because for the first time you have a significant amount of freedom to set your own schedule. You can avoid a lot of problems that still plague full professors by realizing this and taking control of your own time commitments. You can’t do all of the things - so what will you do that advance your research and your career?

Anyone that knows me will attest that I have very high expectations of myself, members of my research group, and members of our scientific community. You are in the lab because we think you can exceed these expectations. Everyone that has come before you in the lab has done it. You can do it. My expectations for each member of the research group is summarized here:

Make the research group look good by your research, behavior, commitment, and citizenship


I care deeply about the physical and mental health of the people that work in and around my lab. Beyond your own safety, failure to follow proper laboratory practices could put the safety of other lab members and the viability of the lab as an entity into jeopardy. With this in mind…

General expectations for labbies

Specific expectations for each rank of Schlabbie…


Undergraduate students

Graduate students



I want you to succeed. Although I’ve “made it” in science, my career is still very much in development. Just as your career development is dependent on me, I am dependent on you. I love working with developing scientists and enjoy the camaraderie, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm. If you think anything is missing from this social contract, please let me know. People in the lab know that I am willing to take more personal criticism than most PIs and look forward to growing with you.



* this is a joke, folks. a joke.