Overarching Theme 🥼
‘We Love Plants’ and we know how important they are to our future, especially with the increase in food production demand and declining freshwater supplies. Our research focuses on increasing photosynthesis and enhancing plant productivity. Specifically, we focus on increasing water use efficiency. Our aim is to promote climate smart agriculture with the use of techniques such as cereal grafting, single cell sequencing, synthetic biology, and functional genomics. We are a welcoming lab that love working with other like-minded plant enthusiasts and together want to work towards the bigger goal of creating global food security.
The Mission 🚀
The mission of The Singh Lab is to make a meaningful impact in the field of cereal physiology and functional genomics. We aim to develop cutting-edge approaches to study cereal biology and address fundamental biological questions. Formulating relevant hypotheses and performing well-designed experiments followed by data analysis are crucial in leading to novel discoveries. Dissemination of knowledge by communicating our research findings to the scientific and wider community is also important to us. We are committed to mentoring the next generation of plant scientists and leaders by providing a flourishing and supportive collegial research culture.
Safety should always be a priority in the lab. Therefore, lab members should follow the safety rules outlined in the Lab Induction Manual (available on ThePallaviSinghLabDrive). Before starting in the lab, please sign up for the School of Life Sciences Safety Induction. If you are feeling unwell, please let the other lab members know. Never work in the lab if you think your condition will affect your ability to work, as this could put yourself and others at risk. When carrying out dangerous tasks or using equipment you are untrained with, do not work alone. Please feel free to ask for training or refer to the Lab Equipment Manual (available on ThePallaviSinghLabDrive). When undertaking a protocol for the first time, please work in the lab during normal working hours when other staff members are present.
The Singh Lab strives to be a friendly and welcoming workplace. Our motto is that a collegial lab environment is key to doing impactful and productive research. For many of our international members, the lab community is a home away from home, and mutual trust and respect play an important role in building that collegial environment. All members should treat each other with respect, and any form of racism, sexism, or discrimination is not acceptable. Please be mindful of others and think twice before making assumptions or inappropriate comments. Also, make sure to complete the University of Essex Equality and Diversity online training courses.
In order for our projects to run smoothly, communication is absolutely necessary. It is important to attend all scheduled meetings so that we can catch up on progress and always check your emails. Your regular 1:1 meeting with Pallavi are your main check-in point for your project. However, you may use the group chat or email to contact any of the lab members. Pallavi aims to respond to your emails within 24 hours.
If there are any concerns or outside factors affecting your work, it is advised that you communicate them with Pallavi as it will allow you to get any support you need. As The Singh lab is built on mutual respect and trust, it is important to own up to any mistakes, as this will lead to transparency and will avoid any confusion or further inconvenience. Additionally, members should always ask if they are unsure of something to prevent any errors and ensure safety for everyone. Please feel free to contact Pallavi if you are unsure.
Looking after plants ☘️
Our lab wouldn't be the same without our plants 😊 Therefore, it is very important to look after them to ensure that they grow happily. We are working on a variety of different species, and different plant species require different growth conditions. Please refer to the Plant Growth Protocols (available on ThePallaviSinghLabDrive) for growing different plant species. Keeping your plants happy and healthy is key, as any delay in their growth could hinder research progress. Therefore, it is the lab members' responsibility to water them regularly. Detailed instructions on plant labelling can be found in the Plant Growth Protocols. In short, plants should be labelled with your name, date, and a note on the experiment. These labels should be clearly referred to in the lab notebook. When you harvest seeds from a plant, always keep the unique label with the seeds to avoid mixing them up. All seeds should be labelled as well. We have a system to record crosses and maintain seed stocks (available on ThePallaviSinghLabDrive). Please ask Pallavi or the Lab Manager for guidance if unsure.
Record keeping 📚
Proper record-keeping is an important practice. All members should maintain a lab notebook (could be an electronic lab notebook or another system which works for you (e.g., R markdown) to keep track of all experiments and protocols. At the beginning of each experiment, write down the experimental aims, hypothesis, and expected outcomes. At the end of the experiment, write a summary of your inferences and conclusions. Any gels, images, or datasets should be saved and referred to in the lab notebook so that all information is kept in the same place. All lab protocols are available on TheSinghLabDrive and the Lab Box folder. Information on various constructs and gene sequences should be stored on ThePallavISinghLab Benchling. Please contact Pallavi for licences to BioRender or access to Github, Zenodo and Dryad data repositories.
Research integrity and reproducibility 🧪
It is crucial to conduct research in a manner that instills trust and confidence in the methods and findings among others. This entails good record keeping, organization, honesty, and seeking clarification when unsure about a task, experiment, or safety concerns. If any errors or discrepancies arise, it is advisable to discuss them with Pallavi, at the earliest opportunity to avoid potential complications in the future.
Lab organisation 🗃️
All the materials in the lab are shared, therefore it's important to be a respectful member of the lab and maintain the resources and keep them organised, this will ensure that there is no confusion, and everyone can make progress. If any material runs out, please let the lab manager know and it can be re-ordered and restocked. It is important to keep track of samples in the lab, always correctly label them and keep a record of everything in your lab book. Members should be aware of where different types of waste materials belong and where equipment should be placed.
Work hours ⏰
We are fortunate to be in a field where flexible working hours are common. Members can access the lab between 8:00 to 18:30. If a member wants to access the lab in out of office hours or the weekends, they should let Pallavi know and sign the out of hours working form (available on ThePallaviSinghLabDrive). To promote collaboration among lab members, I generally expect that lab members will be available for the majority of typical working hours on weekdays. Although there may be times when your project requires you to work late at night or on weekends, you are not expected to regularly work more than 40 hours per week. It is important to take time off for personal reasons, holidays, etc. If you are not going to be working due to illness or any other reason, please inform Pallavi or the lab manager if necessary.
Pallavi's responsibilities to lab members:
•Develop project ideas.
•Help you to interpret results.
•Proof-read and contribute to writing of manuscripts, thesis and abstracts.
•Discuss future career goals (e.g., teaching, research, industry, science communication etc.), and plan ways to facilitate these goals.
•Meet weekly to discuss progress and challenges.
•Support fellowship applications where applicable.
Expectations of lab members:
•Conduct your research with utmost scientific integrity.
•Prepare for our regular progress meetings please send a presentation on progress and goals a night before the meeting.
•Develop ideas for your project, for postdocs this can include independent projects that can be taken with you.
•Write and submit manuscripts. I expect lab members to produce a first draft which we can then work on together. I recommend junior lab members discuss an outline with me before starting.
•Maintain lab notebooks for wet lab work (see record keeping section). For bioinformatics projects I expect well organised and detailed recording of data, code (with annotation), version control and detailed methods. There needs to be sufficient detail to reproduce results without additional instructions. I recommend using version control software e.g., Github, Zenodo.
•Participate in general lab responsibilities (e.g., maintaining common areas and stocks, taking turns hosting visitors). Participate in talk rehearsals of your colleagues.
•Be available in the lab/office for a minimum pre-arranged set of hours to facilitate interactions.
•PhD students and postdocs: present multiple research talks/posters at conferences over the course of your time in the lab. You are encouraged to do so annually, but this isn’t always possible. I encourage lab members to seek external funding for travel.
•PhD students and postdocs: supervise junior members of the lab.
Text and ideas in places borrowed from Rubén Rellán-Álvarez and Borill Lab.