Lab Values

The text below reflects the lab philosophy, values, and policies. This text is subject to review and revision as we, as a lab, grow and change over time.


Community Standards

These are the basic "rules for the road" that govern conduct and procedures in the Harms lab. Everyone who joins the lab should read them and agree to abide by them. We will review and update these once a year.

  • Values: Strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment to scientists of all backgrounds. Encourage each other. Give constructive criticism. Take constructive criticism. Be kind. Support each other.
  • Safety: All lab members are responsible for their own safety and that of others in the lab. Think before you act. If you see something amiss, intervene.
  • Records/lab notebooks: We are working as a team; therefore, it is imperative that the records of experiments be accessible to all. This assures the integrity of our science and also that lab members can build on the experience of others. All lab members should keep good records in lab notebooks and/or electronically, as well as appropriately labeling stocks/samples/reagents.
  • Ethical conduct: Learning cool things about the universe requires that we trust the results generated in the lab. So don’t make up your data. Don’t steal other people’s work and claim it as your own. Let the data lead, even if it undermines your cherished hypothesis; this is how we learn!
  • Dealing with conflict: We will work to deal productively with conflict as it comes up, using strategies like these.
  • Care of lab equipment: As a group, we all share equipment. What you do with it can affect the work of others. So: Be careful. Clean up after yourself. If something breaks, let someone know. If you break something, spill something nasty, or otherwise cause mayhem: don't worry about it, we've all done it. But report it and work to fix it.
  • Work ethic: We should all work hard. It’s unfair to those who are working hard if one person just goofs off. This does not necessarily mean working a million hours a week, but it does mean working in the hours we are here.
  • Face time: A great thing about academic work is that we can have whatever hours work for us. (And, if writing or coding, wherever we want). But, as a community, we also need to spend time together so we’re not each working in a vacuum. Lab members should make sure that, whatever time they come in or leave, there is significant overlap with normal M-F/9-5 work hours.
  • Broader sharing: The default is to share. Our work is funded by the public; therefore, our results should be made accessible to the public.

Mike's thoughts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Leadership positions in science and at the University of Oregon are dominated by white men. Others have done an excellent job documenting this problem and discussing ways forward, (also here and here). This is not an easy problem, nor is it one that will be solved quickly. Despite the stated intentions of most scientists, the system as a whole continues to favor white men, particularly in leadership positions. This is something that I am committed to change.

  • I recognize that I, as someone who is a member of this majority class, have had opportunities and privileges unavailable to others that have been crucial to my success as a scientist.
  • I recognize that I, as a privileged individual and leader in the scientific community, have a responsibility to work toward correcting these inequities.
  • I recognize that systemic issues require systemic solutions. It is not enough for me to be personally inclusive and welcoming; I must work to change the system as a whole.


Given this, I commit to the following actions


In my lab

  • I will encourage my students to participate in efforts to promote equity and inclusion in the sciences. This includes, but is not limited to, encouraging them to join UO organizations such as UOWGS and CMIS; supporting their participation in Departmental committees like CBGReAT and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; funding travel to meetings and workshops devoted to improved equity and inclusion (e.g. SACNAS, GRC Power Hour); and inviting students to participate in outreach activities such as Skype a Scientist and SPICE.
  • I will make continuing education about racial and other inequities a priority. We will do so through a quarterly lab meeting devoted to equity and inclusion. I will also continue to educate myself. (Two excellent sets of resources are here and here.)
  • I will continue my efforts to recruit excellent, diverse undergraduate and graduate students in my lab.
  • I commit to promoting a culture of inclusivity in the lab. This involves communicating that inclusivity is a priority, keeping my door open for conversation, and being willing to accept feedback and criticism from lab members in this area. This means being intentional about seeking out input and ideas from lab members.
  • I commit to keeping my door open, listening, and to being an ally/advocate.


Within the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department and Institute of Molecular Biology

I have three main goals:

  • Recruit and retain diverse undergraduate and PhD students.
  • Increase the diversity of our faculty.
  • Make the overall environment of the Department and Institute more inclusive and welcoming.


I will:

  • As chair of the PhD admissions committee, I will strive to recruit talented and diverse PhD students. This includes targeted outreach to diverse students: recruiting at meetings such as NOBCChE and SACNAS, having faculty give seminars at majority non-white undergraduate universities, and leveraging financial resources at the UO specifically targeted to support non-majority students. This also includes removing barriers to non-majority students: employing strategies to counter implicit bias when screening applications and dropping unfair admissions requirements (such as the GRE).
  • As a member of the Graduate Education Committee, I will work with PhD students to improve the climate and inclusivity of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department. The core mandate of this committee is to listen to students (via the CBGReAT student organization) and then pass their thoughts on to the faculty. In my experience, students are much more sensitive to issues of inclusivity than faculty: I commit to listening and engaging with these students.
  • In my recurring role as a faculty search committee member, I will do my best to recruit diverse faculty. I will: 1) Advocate in the department and to the administration for the importance of diverse faculty for our future growth and success; 2) Reach out and encourage diverse young scientists in my sphere of influence to apply for positions at the UO; and 3) Use strategies to counter implicit bias when evaluating applicants. In addition to this work while on the admissions committee, I will continue to pursue so-called opportunity hires of diverse faculty outside the normal application cycle. I am also hopeful that work on overall departmental and institute climate will improve our ability to recruit diverse faculty members.
  • I commit to doing my part to ensure a diverse slate of seminar speakers. This will, hopefully help communicate our commitment to diversity to existing Institute/Department members, as well as help younger students imagine themselves in such leadership roles.
  • I will continue to facilitate mentorship training workshops, with an emphasis on equity and inclusion.


In the broader community

  • I commit to soliciting diverse reviews for manuscripts I edit.
  • I commit to promoting equity and inclusion at scientific meetings I have influence in (for example, the Proteins GRC). This may involve inviting diverse slates of speakers, facilitating career development workshops, etc.
  • I commit to promoting the careers of diverse young scientists through inviting them to give seminars, having them present at meetings, and by providing appropriate mentorship and advice if requested.
  • I commit to using my voice on social media to advocate for social justice.



Managing conflict

As we work together, conflict will inevitably arise. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. When conflict arises, however, we believe: 1) Conflict should be resolved fairly and expeditiously, 2) Everyone involved should feel heard and 3) Everyone involved should grow as a result. The following principles will govern how we deal with conflict as a lab:

  • Deal with conflict as it comes up. If an issue comes up, deal with it right away. Someone who is hurt has the right to be heard and taken seriously. Someone who caused hurt will benefit and grow from having it brought to their attention. The lab, as a whole, will be a healthier and happier place if we do not let conflict fester.
  • Be willing to listen and grow when challenged on something. If a lab member calls you on something, listen and work to understand where they are coming from. View it as a chance to grow. Be open to changing your words and behavior, even if it does not seem like a big deal to you.
  • Assume benevolence. When a person in the lab will says something hurtful or offensive, start with the assumption that it's a misunderstanding or ignorance on their part, not malevolence. Miscommunication is inevitable. We all start in different places and need to grow in different areas.
  • Be willing to intervene for others. If you hear someone say something hurtful to someone else, speak up. As someone outside the direct conflict, you have the opportunity to stick up for someone else, potentially educate the speaker, and promote a productive and respectful work environment.
  • Use constructive language in conflict. Facilitate fruitful conversation by using phrases that focus on your experience, not assumptions about the other person. Phrases like "What I heard was..." and "When you said X, I felt Y..." provide new information to the other person (your experience) and invite conversation and clarification. In contrast, phrases like "You always say/do..." and "You are X" are assumptions and generalizations about the other person. This is unfair, shuts down conversation, and exacerbates conflict.
  • Start one-on-one, but get help if needed. To prevent harmful gossip, one should not bring others into the conflict unless they are brought in to bring about reconciliation.