Co-lab expectations

We in the Kern-Ralph Co-lab are committed to maintaining an environment in which every one of us can learn, thrive, and build the skills we need to further our career paths in academia, industry, or teaching. As part of this mission, we have developed this set of expectations for our group, so that there is a transparent documentation of what we should expect from one another.


We are here to learn and do science first and foremost. This can only happen effectively in an environment of mutual respect. Everyone comes with a different knowledge base and unique intellectual strengths, and our goal is to establish an intellectual environment where it is safe to be wrong and make mistakes. We require all members to treat others how they themselves would wish to be treated– listening to the ideas of others, making sure that everyone has a voice at the table, and making sure that the entire group feels supported. Intellectual bullying and inappropriate comments will not be tolerated, including those about appearance, race, gender, religion, ability/disability, sexual orientation, or identity.

Work Expectations

Showing up / hours

Ultimately what we do here is a job. We expect that you will treat your position in the group as such. While many jobs require strict hours in the workplace, it is relatively easy for us, as computational biologists, to have of a lot more freedom. While that is so, one of your responsibilities is to the group, and participation in the intellectual activities of the group is important. We find this works best if all members are physically present for a reasonable number of hours during the week, which will change depending on circumstances such as the pandemic or long distance relationships. When physical presence is not possible during the work day, we expect members to be responsive to virtual communication. We expect everyone to attend lab meetings and journal clubs in-person or virtually. Moreover we expect all members of the group to take vacations and generally take time off to be involved in other activities and to enjoy their own personal lives in this incredible part of the world.

We recognize that overworking has deleterious effects and we do not expect you to work outside normal work hours. Burnout is common and we want to avoid it.

What we expect from one another

With the recognition that there are a number of different roles in our co-lab, each with a different collection of of investments and responsibility, it is useful to establish explicitly what we can expect from one another.

As PIs, Peter and Andy are expected to maintain grant support for the group, at a level that allows for all of our research, publications, salary support, travel, etc. to continue. We are firmly committed to the career development of our group members, thus you can expect us to work with you on:

  • defining research questions,
  • writing and reviewing code,
  • sharing code openly via Github or similar,
  • discussing and interpreting analyses,
  • writing and editing manuscripts,
  • seeking your own external funding, and
  • weekly one-on-one meetings from either or both of us if desired.

The Postdocs or Ph.D. students in the group are expected to actively develop and pursue our own research in the group in consultation with Andy and/or Peter, and generally in collaboration with others. Recognizing that more junior lab members need more support initially than do more senior members, our expectations of trainees include:

  • reading relevant literature,
  • writing and reviewing code,
  • sharing code openly with the group at all stages of completion,
  • disseminating production code openly via Github or similar,
  • analyzing and interpreting analysis of data and/or simulations,
  • reading and discussing papers in journal club,
  • leading lab meeting to discuss your work in progress approximately quarterly,
  • drafting, editing, and eventually submitting manuscripts,
  • presenting results at annual (inter)national meetings,
  • seeking your own external funding and/or other future career opportunities, and
  • providing feedback to other lab members on papers, presentations, proposals, etc.

IE2 membership

The co-lab is housed within the greater community of scholars that is the Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IE2). We expect members of our group to interact and contribute to the IE2 community as well. This helps to situate our research in the broader context, and to introduce new ideas and collaboration into our work. Some ways to do this are attending weekly IE2 seminar, being part of IE2 journal clubs (e.g., EvoGen journal club), as well as being present for the regular social engagements such as Tea Time that act to bind the IE2 community together.


All members of the group are encouraged to present their research at national and/or international conferences during the year. Some of our favorite conferences include ProbGen, SMBE, Evolution, and PEQG. We aim for funding to be available for co-lab members to present at at least one conference each year, and encourage and support advanced trainees (particularly postdocs) attending more than this.

Open science

We are working to make knowledge available to everyone, and so are deeply committed to sharing our code and publications freely and transparently with the world. All code written is open source, generally using MIT, GPL, or CC-BY licensing, and shared via Github. All of our publications are preprinted to servers such as bioRxiv (where Andy is an Affiliate) before submission to journals. Upon journal acceptance we strongly prefer open access publication, and try not to publish in journals that paywall publications. Our central goal is to further the collective knowledge of humans around the globe– practicing open science helps us to achieve this goal.