Last updated: 10 Oct 2022

Mission Statement

The goal of the Whelan lab is to improve our understanding of the evolution, ecology, structure, and function of microbial communities. We aim to foster a research environment that promotes equality and diversity, hard work, perseverance, and fun.

Equality, inclusion, and diversity

The Whelan lab is an inclusive environment that values equality and diversity. Negative comments about race, gender, religion, sexual orientation etc. will strictly not be tolerated. Not even as banter; there are plenty of other things to joke about. This lab is made up of people who are passionate about science and kind to each other. Some reading for those interested in learning more:

  • How LGBT+ scientists would like to be included and welcomed in STEM workplaces (Nature, 2020).
  • The liberation of RNA: an excellent podcast episode from Radiolab and Story Collider.
  • Academics for Black Lives.
  • #ShutdownAcademia resources.
  • Systemic racism: science must listen, learn and change (Nature, 2020).
  • A sense of belonging matters. That’s why academic culture needs to change (Science, 2019).
  • Racial and gender biases plague postdoc hiring (Science, 2019).
  • Tips for easing the service burden on scientists from underrepresented groups (Science, 2019).
  • ..and so much more. I will keep updating this list as I learn more.

Roles & Expectations

Of Me...
  • I will promote an inclusive, equal, safe, productive, and fun lab environment.
  • I will be enthusiastic about and interested in your research projects.
  • I aim to read and return feedback on written work within 2 weeks. I will respond to communications within 2 days. If you ask for a meeting, I will make time to have one with you within 1 week.
  • If I have broken any of the above, I want to know about it and you should call me on it.
Of You...
  • You will promote an inclusive, safe, productive, and fun lab environment.
  • You will take care of yourself and your colleagues before your science.
  • You will ask or make known to me if there is something that you need to conduct your research well. If I'm holding up you in some way (e.g. if we need to meet about the direction of a project) or if you need something from me (e.g. a reference letter) you will make me aware.
  • You will give me enough time to read drafts, write reference letters etc. and to the best of your ability not ask me for these outputs at the last minute.
  • You will act as a member of the lab team. This might involve helping out other lab members, helping train new members, and contributing to a tidy, organized lab space.


For all internal communications, we use slack. We use general channels in order to keep everyone in the lab informed, private channels for specific projects/publications, and private DMs for one-on-one communications. Communications involving collaborators might move to email chains. One-on-one meetings will ideally take place in person, but also by video/voice call at a pre-arranged time/software platform. Phone calls outside of pre-arranged times will be considered emergencies.

A few days per week of virtual working (i.e., working from home) is okay as it doesn't effect any scheduled meetings, experiments etc. You should make other members of the group are made aware via slack status updates.

Lab meetings will begin with any pressing lab issues/business then focus on a particular project based on the schedule on the shared lab calendar. There are no stupid questions; always ask. Attendance is considered mandatory unless you are unwell, have a scheduling conflict, or the meeting falls on a religious/cultural holiday that you recognize.

All meetings will aim to be within core (10am-3pm) hours in order to be accessible to all lab members independent of caring or other responsibilities. Lab members (including me) might communicate (i.e. post on slack, send email) outside of core hours. This does not mean that an immediate response is expected; flexible working does not mean constant working.

Health & Well-being

If you physically do not feel well, please do not come to campus. If you're in the middle of an experiment or some other reason you feel makes it essential for you to come in, consider asking other members of the lab to help out. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, your ongoing experiment, or your next upcoming deadline. It's important to take care of it, and UoN's Counselling Service (free for students and staff) can help. I've been and would be very happy to share my experience one-on-one with you.

Open Science

All publications are to be posted to bioRxiv before or upon submission, with the permission of all authors. Publications will include (or link to) all raw data, and all code/protocols necessary to reproduce the results.

Within the lab, code, protocols, and resources will be shared via the lab's private github repository.

Other Resources