Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology & Department of Life Sciences


Dr. Oliver Wagner, Professor


Lab Rules Wagner-Lab

  1. First of all the good news: Average graduation time is (and has always been) 2 years for Master students and 6 years for PhD students. If you are focused and hard-working 5 years for PhD is definitely possible.
  2. Lab regulations can only be changed in agreement with the PI. It is essential to follow these rules which allow for working in a clean and safe environment and to assurance a decent work flow.
  3. Standard protocols
  • The lab houses standard protocols for our diverse employed techniques. These protocols are thought to ensure trouble free experimentation and debugging. Students are required to update these protocols whenever they feel that improvement is necessary. Up-to-date protocols will guarantee that new students can immediately work independently and won’t waste their time in “try and error”.
  • All protocols should be uploaded to our custom designed lab-database.
  1. Personal and public drawers
  • Personal drawers: It is allowed that student host their own personal drawers for the storage of protocols, scratch papers, calculator, timer etc. Still, the PI wishes that these drawers are kept in order and neat. Do not accumulate waste in them.
  • Public drawers: There are public drawers that contain experimental equipment, such as gel combs, electrophoresis chambers, tube-racks, etc. These drawers should be labeled accordingly. Make sure to return the clean (!) equipment after usage. Further, these drawers need to be especially in order so the next student can easily find the necessary clean equipment.
  1. Consumables, buffers and chemicals
  • It is very important for a smooth workflow that consumables, buffers and chemicals are easily locatable and accessible. Therefore we set up the following regulations:
    • If you find chemicals or consumables are running out, then it is your duty to re-order them (currently through Muniesh). Do not wait for somebody else to do the job. Having a responsible attitude in a lab environment is a critical value to learn and will be appreciated by others. If we find that someone empty chemicals or consumables and did not re-order them on purpose a penalty of one extra week of student duty will be imposed.
    • Also for the buffers you need to establish a healthy attitude since you work in a team environment. This means, you always need to have the next user in mind. Specifically, you need to refill public buffers once they are about to run out (NGM buffers, glycerol, 1x and 50x TAE, etc.), tips, E-tubes, alcohol burner (95% alcohol). Some buffers (e.g. M9, LB medium, sterile ddH2O) are so commonly used so that personal bottles are allowed.
    • Please reuse microscope slides.
    • Antibodies, polymerases, restriction enzymes etc. need to be all keyed in the database. Whenever you receive a new antibody or mutant strain etc. you have to key in the location in the database. All boxes in the -20 freezer need to be in order and the content labeled and easy to be located (based on the information in the database).
  1. Worm maintenance
  • We have “public boxes” (-80 freezer) to store strains and plasmids. When a new strain/plasmid arrives, the first thing to do is to expand and store it in the public box (you can keep a copy afterwards in your private box). Newly designed worms (crossed worms or transgenic lines created by microinjection) should be also expanded and stored in the public box (besides your own copy). Each strain needs to be stored in at least 3 vials. It is never allowed to take the last vial of a strain. If you see a last vial and you need the strain then you have to expand the strain first. Similar, it is not allowed to use up any public plasmid. When the volume is less than 30 ul and you need the plasmid then you have to amplify it first. We have a sheet in which you must sign when taking strains or plasmids from public boxes.
  • If you keep worms in the incubator, then each plate need to have a date, name and strain name written on it. The same policy applies to yeast and bacteria plates.
  • Keep incubators clean and tidy. Do not store plates until the agar has been dried out. Make sure to keep only plates that will be used in the near future. Otherwise it is recommended to freeze the worms.
  1. Database
  • As mentioned above, we have a lab-database that holds all the protocols, strains, plasmids and antibody names etc. with the creator name and other in-depth information as well as information regarding the location. It is very important to key in the information of your newly designed strains and plasmids into the database. It will also help others to search for existing strains. Further, the University requires keeping an inventory of critical information regarding genetic manipulated organisms in the lab.
  1. Laminar flow
  • Plates are allowed to stay one night inside the laminar flow. Make sure to have a name tag on it.
  • Before leaving the laminar flow, please make sure that all waste has been removed, the bench sterilized with 70% alcohol and the following (sterilized) items still inside:
    • Tips (white, yellow, blue), E-tubes, Freezing tubes, Marker pen, Scissors, Alcohol burner, Pipette aid, Loop
  1. Confocal spinning disk microscope
  • Training: The first stage is that new users need to receive training from an already instructed user. The second stage is that you will be observed for 3 sessions by the already trained user before you can use the microscope alone.
  • Cameras: We have two cameras attached to the spinning disk microscope. An regular CDD (Olympus F-View II) and an EMCCD (Andor  iXon DV887). The Andor iXon camera is very expensive and sensitive and never expose it to brightfield light. If you need to capture and brightfield image you have to use the Olympus F-View camera. Similar, for microinjection always use the Olympus F-View camera to observe the worm (never use the Andor iXon camera). Carefully adjust the gain and exposure time when using the Andor iXon camera and make sure not to overexpose it.
  1. Lab book
  • The PI (and the University) requires that every student holds a lab book (not only for legal issues). You have to make notes for (ideally) every day. This book is also the basis for the discussion during the mentoring hours.
  1. Food and drinks
  • Food and drinks are only allowed in the student study room and in the seminar room next to the PI’s office.
  1. Working hours
  • There are no specific regulations for a fixed start or end time of working hours as the PI is aware of students having classes or based on booking of equipments bench time can severely shift from day to day. However, fully paid PhD students and RAs should spend around 9 hours (including breaks) in the lab each working day. Master students with heavy class load may need to schedule some extra hours for bench work. For PhD and Master students it is recommended (though not required) to spend some hours during the weekends (or at least every other weekend) to boost progress (always remember: “Science is a slow thing”). Undergrads are required to invest around 2-3 half days per week for bench work.
  • If you are absent for more than 1/2 day you have to send an email with the purpose to the PI.
  • I strongly encourage fast graduation, specifically for PhD students. If students work hand-in-hand with me, accept my guidance and quickly deliver results to the discussed tasks, an average graduation for PhD should not exceed 4-5 years. If a PhD student had been automatically signed out from NTHU after 7 years and successfully re-entered the PhD program, a maximum time of additional 3 years is granted in my lab. Students exceeding this period will be automatically discharged from my lab.
  1. Final words
  • Being a scientist allows you to enjoy independent work and to have a fulfilled, creative and exciting work-life with many different facets (your own pioneer work, intellectual stimulation at seminars and symposia, your contribution to human health and a better life). But you also have to pay for this privilege to work independently with hard work. It is impossible to become a successful scientist with spending regular working hours as a regular employee would do. Your hard work will contribute to the whole lab resulting in increased funding, better equipment and higher salaries to students.
  • To continuously interact with the PI and to fully accept his/her guidance is another important criterion to become successful. Therefore (besides our regular group meetings) we set up a biweekly mentoring and discussion time for each student or work-team.