Laboratory personnel have to safely perform tasks while sharing a common area, equipment, and reagents. To be a good lab member, everyone needs to follow a set of simple, common sense rules:

  1. Clean up after yourself in common areas.  Clear all items from sink areas, and DO NOT leave glassware soaking in bleach or water for long periods of time.
  2. Return all reagents, glassware, and equipment to their proper places after you have finished using them and leave them in a state that can be readily used by the next person.
  3. Common chemicals and solutions used by everyone in the lab (e.g. buffers, gels) should be replenished by the person who finishes off the stock/reagent. If supplies of a chemical or other consumable item are running low, order more. If you use the last of a common stock of buffer or solution, make some more. If you need help ordering or making stocks, ask for help.
  4. Treat common stocks/enzymes/reagents according to protocols and store them properly so that others can use them in the future.
  5. Do not take anything from another person’s bench without asking for permission.
  6. Treat the completed thermocycler reactions of your lab mates with the same care you would want them to treat yours.  Upon stopping a thermocycler in HOLD, place the tubes in a rack and IMMEDIATELY move the reactions to the appropriate 4C space.
  7. Make sure that you securely close fridge and freezer doors (e.g. 4 °C, -20 °C, -80 °C) after you have opened them.
  8. If you have a problem with another person in the lab, bring it to the attention of your mentor or the lab PI.
  9. If you have not used a piece of equipment in that particular lab before, ask a more senior lab member for a tutorial and instructions.  This gives you an opportunity to learn the proper etiquette for using this equipment as well as how to use it. Even if you think that you know how a particular piece of equipment works, it can be a good idea to ask for help if you have never used it in this particular lab before. Different labs often have different protocols for common equipment.
  10. Some heavily-used equipment (like shaking incubators or microscopes) have sign-up sheets. Make sure to sign-up in advance.  Do not use an instrument if another lab member has reserved it without first consulting them.  If you are signed up to use equipment but no longer need to use it, make sure you remove your name from the sign-up sheet and let the lab know so that someone else can use the time.
  11. Attend lab meetings. They are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the ongoing research projects in the lab and are often a good place to discuss any issues in the lab that pertain to all members.
  12. When in doubt, ask your mentor or another senior member of the lab. Even if your question feels insignificant, everyone will appreciate you reaching out now instead of potentially causing a problem later.