The Borrill lab mission

To make a lasting impact on the field of wheat genetics and genomics. To achieve this we will:

  • Develop innovative approaches to study wheat biology
  • Perform well designed experiments and data analysis that lead us to novel discoveries
  • Communicate our results to the scientific and wider community
  • Provide a safe and supportive environment for group members and mentor the next generation of leaders in our field

Expectations in the Borrill Lab

Text and ideas in places borrow heavily from Rubén Rellán-Álvarez.


Your health and safety are more important than your research. This includes adhering to lab safety rules and maintaining your physical and mental health. Never work in the lab if you are feeling ill or are taking medication that might affect your ability to work normally. Do not work alone when doing potentially dangerous activities (i.e. these activities must be done during normal working hours when other people will be around).


I expect lab members to contribute to a productive and friendly environment conducive to learning and research. I expect you to treat your colleagues with respect and ensure the lab is a place where everybody feels welcome and appreciated. Racist, sexist or other inappropriate comments or behaviour will not be tolerated. Please make sure you do the University Equality and Diversity training online course.

Research integrity

What is research integrity? Conducting research in a way that allows others to have trust and confidence in the methods used and the findings that result from this.

On a day to day basis that means I expect good record keeping, good organisation, honesty and asking questions if you are unsure about something (e.g. what to do you next, why an experiment has gone wrong, any health and safety issues etc.). If you make a mistake or something doesn’t seem right, talking about it with other lab members, especially Philippa, sooner rather than later will save a lot of trouble in the long run.


Clear communication between lab members is essential for our work. Make sure to attend weekly lab meetings and check your emails regularly (at least once per day on weekdays). Your regular 1:1 meetings with Philippa are your main check-in point for your project, but if you have questions in between email me or other lab members for help (especially in these remote-working times!). If you have any concerns or outside factors affecting your work, discussing these sooner rather than later can help us manage expectations and make a happier and more productive working environment for everyone.

Plant materials

Growing and generating seed stocks is the lifeblood of this lab. Looking after your plants is your number 1 priority. Wheat plants take a long time to grow so if something happens to them it will delay your research, and others in the team. Please check on them regularly. This is your responsibility. The greenhouse staff are there to look after them on a day to day basis but they cannot be blamed if you do not pay attention to your plants.

Every plant should have a unique label in its pot. This should include your name, the date, the experiment identifier (e.g. number your experiments, write in the lab book what the purpose of those plants is), the plant line (e.g. Kronos 1122) and a unique label (e.g. Kronos1122-15 if it is the 15th plant from that line you grew).

When you harvest the seeds from the plant always keep the unique label with the seeds so that nothing gets mixed up.

We have a system to record crosses. Ask Philippa for guidance.

Record keeping

Keep a lab notebook, date and write down everything you do. At the start of each experiment write down why you are doing this experiment and what you expect to see. At the end of the experiment write a brief summary of what the conclusions are. Any gels or printed data should be attached into the lab book with glue or sellotape so that all information is kept in the same place.

If you are working on a mainly computational project you should also keep a lab notebook of your work. This could be an electronic lab notebook, word documents or another system which works for you. Make sure to update it regularly and keep all details of aims, data, scripts, analysis and results together in one easy to access place (i.e. if another lab members needs to understand your work this should be a comprehensive record).

Lab organisation

Be a good lab citizen. Many of the resources in the lab are communal and working together to maintain these resources is the best way for everyone to make progress. Please keep the lab clean and tidy. If you finish a reagent please re-order it (either yourself, or ask the technician to help you).

You are responsible for keeping track of your samples in the lab. Please make sure you label all your samples – labels should correspond to records in your lab book so that anyone else in the lab can tell what is in each tube.

Maintain a spreadsheet with all primers ordered and all vectors you make. These may be useful to others in the lab.

Work hours

We are lucky to work in an area where flexible work hours are the norm. In order to facilitate interactions between lab members I generally expect lab members to be available the majority of normal working hours (9-5pm) during the week. There may be times when your project requires you to work late at night or at the weekends but you are not expected to regularly work more than a normal 40 hour week. It is important you take time off for personal life, holiday etc. Please let me know in advance if you will be away for ≥1 day. If you are ill please let me know via email, if it is an extended absence please follow the University procedure for sick leave.


We follow the IJME rules for authorship rules:
1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Projects evolve over time and authorship, inclusion and author order will be re-evaluated accordingly.

My 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. Never manipulate data or plagiarize written work.
  • Prepare for our regular progress meetings and a follow up with an email of progress and goals.
  • 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 a set of 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.
  • 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.