The Cech Lab – How we work, what we strive to be

Our Research

  • We have expertise in RNA and nucleic acid-protein interactions.
  • We perform curiosity-driven research that is rigorous, quantitative, & reproducible.
  • We traverse traditional boundaries between biochemistry, chemistry, computation, physics, and molecular and cellular biology.

Our Values

  • We encourage sharing & collaborating, locally and world-wide.
  • We value open access & making our materials freely available.
  • We develop each lab member into an independent scientist.

Our Community

  • We advocate for diversity and demand inclusion.
  • We share our scientific knowledge and love of science with the general public.
  • We enjoy working together, having some fun.

What Prof. Cech expects of each lab member


  • Take ownership of your project; propose next steps.
  • Keep Prof. Cech informed of your research progress, usually once or twice per month; more often if you have a breakthrough or a catastrophe.
  • Be responsible for the quality of your experiments including, but not limited to, sound design, biological replicates, positive and negative controls, markers on gels.
  • Keep a detailed lab notebook; months after an experiment is done, you need to be able to find the source of reagents, the buffer conditions, time, temperature, etc.
  • Get ideas and help from others – fellow lab members, people in other labs.
  • Work hard. If your project starts moving well, work even harder.
  • Read the literature. Remember, a month at the bench can save you a day reading papers!
  • Work safely and cleanly. The next person to use the reagent, instrument, or lab bench you just used has the right to expect it to be clean and orderly.
  • Respect your lab mates; understand boundaries.

Career development

  • Take primary responsibility for your own future. Are you on track to attain your goals?
  • Attend at least one seminar/lecture per week. You will broaden your scientific knowledge, and often you’ll learn something of direct use to your project. Consider positive and negative features of the presentation, so you can improve your own.
  • Attend one national or international conference per year. Networking is important!
  • Plan to write a fellowship application. Most of the successful grant applications written by grad students and postdocs have been initiated by the trainee.

What you can expect from Prof. Cech


  • I will set the scientific directions for the lab, but I’m always open to hearing new ideas from trainees.
  • I will provide a work environment that is safe and well equipped.
  • I will strive to maintain an intellectually stimulating and personally supportive work environment.
  • I take responsibility for funding your salary, supplies, and other research expenses; I can only project about 3 years in advance, so do not assume support without limits!
  • I am available to review and discuss your data or other scientific questions, either in person or by e-mail; I usually respond the same day, or the following morning.

Career Development

  • I am committed to mentoring you now and in the future.
  • I will work with you on writing manuscripts and grant proposals; after we agree on the outline, I expect you to write the first draft, and then we’ll go back-and-forth for typically 10-20 rounds of revision.
  • I will work with you to improve your oral presentations; I appreciate that these can be intimidating experiences, but you only improve through practice.
  • Although my lab is known for the trainees who’ve become professors at top universities, I am equally supportive of those who’ve gone into biotech, journal editing, medicine and other careers. I want you to find a career where you can make good use of your scientific training and have a fulfilling life. I have allowed trainees to take some time off to get teaching or biotech experience, and I’m open to such possibilities.
  • Neither I nor the University will tolerate harassment, and consequences for such behavior are fair but tough.