Lab Policies and General Information

Some guiding principles and policies for everyone working in the lab.

Workplace expectations


Please see our lab's statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and DEI Action Items on our website.

If you see behavior in the lab you think isn't "supportive, free of discrimination and bias," we'd like to change that. See our KB doc on [Link for document 116455 is unavailable at this time].


Slack is the main way we communicate in the lab. During your shift, you should have Slack accessible at all times and be able to notice new messages within a few minutes. This is important so that staff and other students can contact you if needed. Consider signing in through the browser on your lab/personal computer, or getting notifications on your phone. Be sure to also check Slack somewhat regularly (suggested at least once per day) when you are not in the lab! In fairness, the lab manager and other staff will try to answer requests on Slack as soon as appropriate.

If you're new to Slack, see our how-to KB doc.

Hybrid work environment

Students work remotely and in-person. Just because a seat is empty doesn't mean the computer is available. Use the computer schedule to know which computer to use; it's available in the KB sidebar, and often on the bulletin board in 544.

If your remote shift ends at 1pm and someone's in-person shift on that computer starts at 1pm, be timely when wrapping up your work. Again, the computer schedule is your friend here.


You may bring food into the lab. There is a mini fridge in 483 and one in 544. There is a microwave in 544 which is pretty slow, but reliably available. The 4th-floor conference room has a microwave; the 5th-floor conference room has a microwave and sink.

You may eat in the lab. Be respectful to people and equipment; don't make a mess; clean up after yourself.

Building Info


Most students do not receive keys to our offices. Instead, they get KeyWatcher access, which is a way to temporarily borrow a key, connected to your WisCard. This temporary key can unlock any of the SMNG office doors (415, 483, and 544) and must be returned within 15 minutes of checkout. The lab manager will set up your KeyWatcher access during your first week.

Staff and post-docs get keys to SMNG offices but still use KeyWatcher for conference rooms.


If you are the last person to leave one our offices (no matter what time of day), do the following:
  • Make sure the door is locked
    • On the side of the door, there are little buttons by the knob that lock/unlock the exterior knob.
  • Turn off the lights
  • Close the door behind you
You may leave the room unattended with the door open for brief periods (water, bathroom, etc.).


You should not leave the Waisman computers signed in and unattended. This is both generally a good idea, and an expectation when working with protected health information.

If you need to leave your computer for a short period of time, you may lock it by pressing Windows Key + L. You aren't signing out, so all your programs will remain intact -- you will simply need to enter your password to unlock it.

Students who use a shared computer must sign out at the end of their shift. Staff who are the sole users of their computer can lock it instead.

Responding to an emergency

Our lab spaces have an emergency response sheet with contact info for key lab members and Waisman staff, plus some common-sense info about responding to various situations. In general: protect yourself, help any participants, then call staff when it's safe to do so.

In situations where you want an immediate response, don't hesitate to call instead of messaging on Slack. You can call through Slack (go to the DMs with that person and look for the phone icon), or call their cell. You should save the lab manager's cell phone to your contacts (Chris is 770-402-0140).

Office Supplies

Office supplies are stored on the bookshelf in 483 and on the wooden shelves above the couch in 544 (or next to the experiment computer). You may, for example, take a couple post-it notes if you need them for class, but don't take a whole stack. Use good judgment.

Spare face masks are also in 483 and 544.


If you have completed some assigned task but aren't sure what to do next, the Default Tasks KB doc can help. Otherwise, your assigned post-doc, PI, lab mates, or the lab manager can help.


We're on the university calendar

Students in the lab receiving course credit are ultimately that -- students taking a class. You are expected to make any lab shifts scheduled when classes are in session. If classes aren't in session, for example due to a holiday, you are not expected to come to "class." If you typically work in the lab Mondays and Thursdays, you should not work on the Thursday that is Thanksgiving Day, and you do not need to "make up" the hours you didn't work on Thanksgiving.

Similarly, the "last day of classes" is the last day you are expected to complete any lab shifts for that semester. If classes have ended but you have unfinished tasks that the PI has asked of you, you may still need to do those during finals week.

Getting sick

If you feel sick or think you may be contagious, please show respect for your labmates by staying home. Our lab is set up to work remotely, so let's take advantage of that.

Message the lab manager on Slack to notify them that you will not be in person. If you feel well enough to work remotely, you may do so. Otherwise, please let the lab manager know that you are not able to work due to being sick.

Planned outages

Everyone has one week or another where their typical lab schedule doesn't work out. In those cases, let the lab manager know about a week ahead of time. You should try and suggest an alternative: a different time that week you could come in; working remotely at your normal time; working remotely at a different time that week. If none of those is an option, you can just "skip class." It's not a big deal if it happens once or maybe twice a semester.



Various awards, scholarships, etc. are available to UW-Madison students who do research. See our KB doc here with a list of some of these awards, particularly if you are a sophomore or junior, as there are more options available to you. Talk to your PI if you think you might qualify for a scholarship or want to apply.

Keywordsgeneral, procedures, housekeeping, clean, keys, maintenance, policies   Doc ID113879
OwnerChris N.GroupSMNG Lab Manual
Created2021-09-23 14:10:58Updated2024-04-23 15:31:12
SitesSpeech Motor Neuroscience Group
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