Lab Compact and Philosophy

This lab compact and philosophy statement outlines our mission statement, as well as our approach for conducting research and participating in the Bagley Lab while fostering a diverse and inclusive community where we strike a balance between career success and the basic aspects of well-being (e.g. mental health) needed to preserve our capacity to do, and indeed thrive in, our work. This statement draws on a growing list of resources and similar statements from other labs, which we will regularly revisit and reflect upon to improve this statement and our lab philosophy.

Bagley Lab Mission Statement

“Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.” – Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973)

Evolution is the fundamental unifying concept of biology and has given rise to ecosystems upon which human societies critically rely but are increasingly impacting. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology give us tools to better understand the origins and distribution of this biological wealth, to understand and protect healthy natural ecosystems, and to solve problems related to human impacts. We believe that research and education in these areas drives humans to interact more sustainably with the environment, and form a basis for making sound decisions in a changing world.

We are a diverse group of scientists committed to excellence in research and outreach related to Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Our research strives to address pure and applied questions across multiple disciplines using field collections/natural history, genomic data, ecological data, and computer modeling to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of species and populations. We strive to conduct publishable, open, and reproducible science. And we work to contribute to the scientific community and to society at large by communicating our approach (pedagogy, philosophy, community) and our scientific results (data, code, etc.) to scientists and to the general public. We also seek opportunities to improve society through service to our Department, University, communities, and region.

As a collective, we foster a lab community that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion, such that everyone feels that they belong, everyone collaborates, and the way we do science and work towards career development really matters.


A comprehensive collection of resources for all of the topics listed in this compact has been compiled to support our development and health. This list grows as we do.


I am always looking for bright, motivated students who are passionate about studying ecology and evolution. In addition to advancing science and education, in general, the most important products of our work as PIs/advisors is to help students find out what “turns them on” in science and help get them the resources they need to be successful, to do what they want to accomplish in the lab, and to move forward in their careers. I was taught in my training that two of the most important things we learn as scientists are to think critically and skeptically and to be creative, imagining the possibilities for how the world works and how to solve difficult problems.

Career Development

As people’s career preferences evolve over time, I expect people to be engaged in a constant conversation with me. I think about “what’s next” as being such an important part of mentorship because how they think their work in the lab feeds into their longer term career goals allows me to tailor training, networking, conferences, and even aspects of their project around what I think would be most beneficial for their goals. In addition, when you begin in the lab we develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and we will review this plan yearly through surveys, activities, and a focused meeting. In addition, the Avasthi lab has put together a series of great activities that are very helpful in finding your path.

Many people think about how they perform in grad school as defining our career options, but it is also possible to envision working in grad school to explore or reinforce your long term career plans. I think people’s primary aim while they’re here should be trying to set themselves up for life beyond the lab. People who have been very focused on this have been well motivated, and it becomes really easy to recognize when to cut losses on a project or when to wrap things up and publish. It provides me with clarity of how to direct their work, and I really like having a very constant back and forth about it.

This development of this compact was guided by similar compacts and philosophies of several labs, see links.

Avasthi Lab, Dartmouth College

Heemstra Lab, Emory University

Matreyek Lab, Case Western Reserve University

Moghe Lab, Cornell University

Syed Lab, University of Minnesota

Mentoring resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison ICTR