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Andrew D. Steen

I'm interested in carbon, microorganisms, and aquatic ecosystems.

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Lab member expectations

Expectations for all lab members


Everyone who steps into lab is responsible for lab safety.


  • If you see an unsafe practice, speak up. This means talking to anyone involved in an unsafe situation immediately, and telling Drew as soon as is practical. Drew’s cell phone number is on the lab whiteboard; don’t be afraid to use it.
  • Look after your own mental and physical health. Eat well, get enough sleep, and get some regular exercise. It is difficult to stay safe if your basic needs are not being met.


  • Try to keep soilds out of the sink and don’t pour chemicals down the drain.
  • Clean the benchtop after you’ve completed an experiment
  • Don’t be nervous to ask questions if you’re not sure about something.


  • At all times, long pants and closed-toe shoes must be worn in lab.
  • Safety glasses and lab coats must be worn when anyone in lab is working with potentially dangerous chemicals, such as acids and bases. Lab coats should also be worn while doing laboratory dishes. Never wear your lab coat out of the main lab area. Saftey glasses should be worn when working with chemicals as well as when heating substances.
  • Gloves should be worn when working with any chemical and when you need to prevent contamination of samples. Remember to change them often.


  • All lab members must take the UT Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) basic lab safety training class as soon as possible.
  • All lab members must be trained to use any instrument before using it. For now, this training is mostly informal - but ask an experienced lab member before you use anything in lab that you haven’t used before.


Data processing and storage

  • All measurements must be calibrated at the time of measurement.
  • All handwritten data must be recorded immediately and stored in lab notebooks.
  • All computer data and plots must be stored on the SteenLab dropbox site.
  • The data analysis language of choice is R, but this is a recommendation rather than a requirement.
    • Excel worksheets should follow Karl Broman’s recommendations here
    • R code should observe Hadley Wickham style guide.

Lab notebooks

  • Record everything you do in a lab notebook, as you do it.
  • Each day’s work should be recorded on a new page, with full date, title, and a brief explanation of the day’s task.
  • Relevant data should be graphed by hand in the lab notebook, or a plot of data should be printed and taped into the lab notebook.

The Principle Investigator (Drew)

  • Provide leadership for the scientific direction of the lab.
  • Obtain funding for supplies, field work, and instruments.
  • Assist students to write papers about their research, for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Assist students to identify meetings at which to present their research, and assist students to create presentation materials.
  • Attempt to secure external funding for graduate students.
  • Meet weekly with students to assess progress and plan the next week.


All students

  • Meet with Drew once a week (travel permitting)
  • Notify Drew if you won’t be in during your normal hours.

Graduate students

  • Take responsibility for your project. Drew is the pit crew chief; you’re driving the car.
  • Read approximately 5 papers per week.
  • Ph.D. students should seek their own funding at all levels (full graduate fellowships all the way through small-dollar grants for travel or supplies).
  • Attend weekly lab meeting
  • Typically be at work from 9 am - 5 pm. We don’t punch a clock, but all lab members should recognize a similar schedule.
  • Mentor one undergraduate student at a time.

Undergraduate students

  • Read at least 1 paper per week.
  • Attend weekly lab meeting (class schedule permitting)
  • Be in lab at least 10 hours / week on a set schedule. Sign in and out. It is OK to miss scheduled lab times when your academic workload is high (e.g. exam time) but be sure to notify Drew.
  • Do not make major changes to experimental plans or procedures without checking with Drew or your graduate mentor.