Policies Procedures

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This page summarizes the policies and procedures of the Jimenez Group at CU-Boulder. The shortcut to it is http://tinyurl.com/PolProc.

Date of last revision: 12-Sep-2019


Other J-group pages:

FAQ Misc, Practical Reference, Papers and Presentations Policies


Why do you have such a lengthy document with policies?

  • We are trying to clarify the expectations and methods for working on our group, so that prospective members know more about what working in our group would be like, and current members can find the information faster. Largely the policies have been developed in the spirit of improved efficiency, fostering high-quality research and education, equity and transparency, and to document things that have worked well so far. We continuously try to improve and revise these policies based on experience and feedback from group members.
  • This is more and more commonly done, see for example this article in Nature that discusses written group policies and what several groups are doing.
  • Importantly, our expectations or policies are not really any more strict than those of other ANYL groups, and you can verify this quickly by comparing any details of what is written here vs what other groups actually do, by talking with current members of other groups. Our policies are just documented in writing and in more detail.

Meetings & Communication

What is the format of our group meetings?

  • We have tried many different group meeting formats which have various advantages and also sometimes inefficiencies. We will continue to experiment with and are open to suggestions. During very busy periods (field studies, when Jose is teaching etc.) the frequency of group meetings often decreases. As of May 2016 we intend to continue with this system:
    • All-group meetings only for conference presentation rehearsals
    • Separate CIMS, AMS/OFR, and Aircraft subgroup meetings every few weeks. Time will be limited and allocated to different items. Longer discussions that only concern a few of the people present should be discussed offline.
    • "Group Tour" for Jose & Doug (potentially Pedro) twice a week. Group members can sign up for quick 1-on-1 discussions through the calendar, as frequently as needed. This format facilitates scheduling of quick discussions.
    • Ad-hoc subgroup or one-on-one meetings as needed.
  • When calling meetings involving multiple group members try and include those who will benefit from and contribute to the meeting, but also try to be respectful of the demands on people's time.

How do I sign up for Group Tour?

  • The calendar events are created by Jose, normally twice a week (as of Feb 2018). You should be invited to these already, and then you can reply yes (then enter the info below) or no.
  • When signing up for Grp Tour on the calendar, please:
    • (1) Start your entry with "U7" meaning that the urgency of meeting that day is 7, using a scale from 1 (not urgent) to 10 (extremely urgent, must be done that day). This will help me prioritize. I already try to sort the order of meetings by urgency, but that's just based on my perception of it, and I may not know enough about what you want to discuss and why it is or isn't urgent. So please make the entries as "U7, Weiwei, discuss X and Y".
    • (2)Try to be realistic with the time needed. Use the past experience as a guide. I.e., if last time you entered 10 min but it took 45 min, try to be more realistic this time, taking into account that the discussion may be more complex than expected etc. This helps in prioritizing who I can meet with in the Grp Tour slot, and to separate other large meetings into other slots.

How do I set up meetings using Google Calendar?

  1. Events should only be in the group calendar if they involve the whole group (or almost everyone)
  2. Times when people will be away should be entered as ALL DAY events in the calendar. Sometimes Google Cal will put the event at the actual times you entered (as it recognizes this automatically). In that case people change it to all day event manually.
  3. Events involving only part of the group should be set up as events in your personal calendar, and then you use the invite function to invite the relevant folks
  4. The conference room (Cristol 332) is a shared resource. Please follow these guides for use:
    • To book CR332 for a meeting, please reserve it directly on the jg.labresources@gmail.com calendar, or invite jg.labresources@gmail.com to your event.
      • Calendar events should have this format: CR332: Event name
    • Be sure that your reservation does not conflict with a previously-made reservation.
    • If your meeting time later changes or your meeting is canceled, be sure to update the calendar.

How frequently can I meet with Jose?

  • Jose makes an effort to meet with people as frequently as needed, typically the same day or within a few days of the meeting request at most.
  • Group members should not be shy in requesting meetings if needed to discuss research etc., even if Jose appears to be very busy. The same applies to meeting with other group members. Jose will make every effort to meet with you on a timely manner, and will let you know about any delays needed due to current schedule or deadlines.
  • At the same time group members should be respectful of Jose's time, e.g. he spends a lot of time reviewing group papers and becomes slower at that important task when there are lots of meetings. So you should always be prepared and organized for meetings.

Can laptops be used during meetings?

  • We allow the use of laptops (& smartphones) during most meetings, since often we have to take notes or add tasks to Asana.
  • However, in the past group members have complained that excessive laptop use (checking email or doing unrelated work) can make meetings longer and less productive.
  • The following policies are proposed (May 2015) to deal with this issue:
    • Laptops should be closed during meetings if possible (except for presenter, designated notetaker, and if searching for papers or other info to inform the current discussion)
    • During meeting breaks, or when the presenter is updating a graph etc., the use of laptops for unrelated items (e.g. email) is allowed. When the break is over anyone can say "laptop rule" to remind others to cease unrelated tasks and close their laptops.

How should we manage email communication?

  • Use your @colorado email address when communicating with anyone for work. This is important to maintain the identification of yourself as a member of CU and our group, and for of the group in the larger community. If you use gmail as well, make sure to forward all messages to the same place, so there is no delay if people reply to one or another address.
  • Be clear on the subjects of your emails. Most current programs sort messages into threads based on subjects, so an unclear subject can add a lot of confusion, lead to lost messages with no response, etc.
  • If you need to send a message that concerns a new topic, DO NOT include it in a reply to the same person for a different topic. This is very confusing per the item above, and can lead to lost messages. Be aware that busy people may not read anything but the subject, and then decide to respond later based on that.
  • For tasks assignments within the group, ALWAYS use Asana, not email. Note that you can email to x@mail.asana.com (or forward an email there), and a task will be made with the contents of the email, including attachments. You can then search for it on Asana and assign it to the relevant person.

How should we manage Slack communication?

  • Everyone in the group should be logged into Slack during regular working hours. Using Slack during off-hours, e.g. on smartphones, is often useful, but it is understood that people may not reply during off-hours.
  • Slack should be used for quick & timely questions (and sometimes filesharing). Other electronic communications should be conducted via Asana or email.
  • Slack should also be used before meetings, to confirm that everyone is ready for them.

How do we organize tasks within the group w/ Asana?

  • We use the Asana task management software. Please adhere to the following policies when dealing with group tasks:
    • When an Asana task already exists, please enter any files, discussion, comments etc. on that task. DO NOT send them by email, unless there is a reason why Asana doesn't work (e.g. people need to be involved who are not in the group).
    • If an Asana task does not exist, but you are about to send an email to a group member that's basically a task that they have to do, please do it through Asana instead.
    • If you have done your part for an Asana task, and now it is for someone else to do the next steps (e.g. for Jose to review an abstract), remember to assign the task to that person. Otherwise the task will not show on the list of tasks to do for that person, and is very likely to be delayed.
    • If you are done with a task, please mark ALL subtasks done. Otherwise those "zombie subtasks" get confusing when doing searches, and as we accumulate more and more stuff in the group Asana domain.
    • All files uploaded to Asana need to follow the group filename convention
    • Due to the limited full-participation spots in our Asana "workspace" some members that work part-time with the group are assigned as "guests". This means that, by default, they see only tasks or subtasks that are assigned to them. Unfortunately (as of Feb 2016) they do not see tasks for which they are only a follower (seems like a bug). As a work-around, they can be added as "followers" to entire "projects" and then they see everything in that project. Most likely, they will want to deselect the notifications for that project so they don't get notification from EVERY task update in that project (you still get notifications for task that you follow/own).
    • Please prevent any of your Asana tasks going "overdue." Instead please change the target date, and explain briefly in the comments section what's going on etc.

How do we do weekly updates w/ Asana?

  • Everyone in the group should posts a short weekly summary (typically on Fri afternoon) of the status of their main project for the week to Asana. Each person should posts ~3 sentences saying something like "This week I worked on this and that. I am having some trouble with doing X, and I've been reading and reached out to person Z. I anticipate needing a long meeting in 2 weeks and a draft for review in ~6 weeks." So basically "This is what I did, these are the current obstacles I am working through, and this is the outlook over the next month or so."
  • That gives Doug and Jose (and others involved in the project) very useful information about where different people are, and helps prioritize meetings, may allow us to help faster in some cases, and also prepare & organize on our end for when time-intensive tasks such as paper reviews may come our way.
  • This should be done on the dominant task you are working on, so it is part of the record on that task, but also posting a note with a link to that task on your R-1w update task. Make sure that Jose (and Doug, for most folks) are followers of that task, as otherwise we won't receive a notice that you posted anything.
  • If you are working on multiple topics, then best to post the update on the reminder task.
  • Of course, no need to post anything for the weeks when you are on vacation.

Research Issues

Papers and Presentations

  • The items related to papers and presentations have been moved to this new page, in an effort to make the information easier to follow.

Work Schedule FAQs

  • Everyone in the group should work in his/her office and/or in the lab every weekday.
  • Working at home is generally discouraged as it often leads to reduced focus and productivity. If you want to work at home some of the time, you need to discuss it with Jose first. If this is approved, you need to enter the times in which you are working at home in the group calendar to facilitate organization of meetings etc.
  • Everyone in the group will work in the lab or office for a minimum of 8 hrs which include the period 9:30 am to 4 pm, so that interactions with other group members are possible.
  • This still applies if it snows, unless it is a big storm (> 6 inches of snow or especially bad conditions) or CU is closed. In the event that CU declares an official campus closure due inclement wheather, it is expected the people work a normal schedule on projects they can do on their computer at home, if possible. It is understood this may not be possible or may be more limited for those who have children at home when schools also close.
  • Longer hours are typical of research. Typical average work schedules on a research environment like ours are 55-70 hrs a week. Even higher intensity is often critical during field studies and other intensive periods such as before conferences and paper submission.
  • For positions which are shared between our group and other groups or companies, a clear accounting of the hours worked for each group is essential for good long-term functioning of the collaborative relationship. This is done via a Google Spreadsheet shared with all parties, which allows for continuous updating and sharing of the information.
    • These timesheets need to be completed by Sunday for the past week.
  • Sometimes a group member needs to dedicate work time to tasks which are not part of the group, such as finishing a paper from their PhD, or doing a job search, or writing a proposal for a future job. This is ok, but if these tasks will take longer than 1 day of regular work time, they should be discussed with Jose and marked in the group calendar. Also for postdocs and research scientists, the time should be declared as "vacation" within the CIRES system. That way people still get paid normally, but the time of the non-group work does not get charged to a grant, which would be illegal. Note that if the time involves a paper from a previous group that is collaborative with our group, it is proper group work and this does not apply (but it should still be discussed with Jose for time planning purposes).

How should I keep a research notebook?

  • Everyone doing research is required to keep a notebook, preferably electronic using OneNote.
  • You should write on the notebook at the start of each week and each day to briefly summarize what you are going to do and why. You should also paste graphs and discuss results and what may be unclear or needs discussion or further investigation.
  • This system will help you think through the problems, discuss them more efficiently with others, and figure out a few months later why you did something a certain why or what you were thinking. If will also help others in the future (when you have left the group and moved on to do other things) to understand what you did and recreate or expand some of your analyses if needed.

Am I expected to apply for fellowships while I am a group member?

Yes, especially for graduate students for which one can apply for fellowships after one has started. We will expect you to take these applications very seriously. In general this is a good idea for several reasons:

  • It looks great on your resume
  • It gives you independence from funding ups & downs (and protects you from having to TA), and gives more freedom to choose a project or to fine-tune what your research
  • It gives you a link with a funding agency which generally opens some doors with them for collaboration and possibly future jobs
  • Often you get to meet other fellowship recipients and attend a meeting (sometimes several) sponsored by the funding agency
  • If often comes with funding for travel and computers specifically for you.
  • It liberates grant money to buy computers, instruments, pay for trips to conferences, etc.

Letters of Recommendation FAQs

  • Writing letters of recommendation takes time, especially if I have not recently written a letter for you, or if the target audience / position is very different from those of past letters. I request that you respect the following timelines:
    • If I have not written a similar letter for you before, please request the letter 1 MONTH before it is due (via Asana)
    • If I have written a similar letter for you before, please request the letter 2 WEEKS before it is due (via Asana)
    • If there is a hard deadline for the letter, please make it clear in the action step.
    • I always do my best to get letters submitted, but I have sometimes missed deadlines when the requests came with short notices, so please adhere to the above timelines.

Computing FAQs

Does the group provide a laptop or desktop computer?

  • Typically people start in the group with their own laptop. Once that laptop is too old or slow for group work, we typically buy one from research funds. Funding agencies have strict rules about when a laptop is allowed on a grant, and CIRES enforces these rules fiercely, so we can't always buy additional laptops, especially on short notice. If you will need a new computer, please let Jose know at least 3-6 months in advance.
  • If you are using a group laptop, you will have to return it to us when you leave. If you are still working on papers or other group work, we may agree to let you keep the computer for some months until that work is complete. If we do this, it is your responsibility to pack it safely and ship it back to the group.

Is there an easy to use set of bookmarks for some of the frequently used group web pages?

Can I use a Mac or Linux computer?

  • Group computers are exclusively PCs, generally Dell Latitudes. If you join the group with your own Mac or Linux computer you may have some minor difficulties, but for your first year or so your own computer is likely to be fine (especially for students). Longer term, much of the hardware and some of the software we use is Windows-specific (e.g. Labview, Visual Basic, NIST MS database...), so a Mac or Linux-PC would NOT work. There are also many subtle incompatibilities when trying to share files between a Mac and a PC that can create a lot of delay when working jointly on papers or presentations. Macs or Linux computers do not work with some hardware we have encountered in the field (e.g. we found that Macs could not connect to certain network hubs or printers, and those were the only units available at the field site). Also, it is critical that people are intimately familiar with Windows so that they can diagnose and fix quickly problems that may arise with instrument computers or data acquisition laptops in the field or other experiments. Thus we use exclusively Windows PC computers (Windows 10 as of May 2017, with Windows 7 on some older laptops).

Am I expected to do regular backups?

  • YES!! As of Jan 2012, everyone in the group is required to select and use any two of the following systems:
    • 1. Install AllWay Sync backup software (if not there already) following the instructions on the group restricted page. http://cires.colorado.edu/jimenez-group/Restricted/
      • Program AllWay Sync to backup your computer to the hard drive or server at least every week (better every day).
      • Program AllWay Sync to save 5 versions (or more) instead of the default 3
    • 2. Install Carbonite to backup your computer. Set schedule to back up when not using it (otherwise it interferes with work). This is a paid service (covered by the group), and you should check with Lab Assistant for setting it up on your computer.
    • 3. Use a backup hard drive (let the Lab Asst know if you need one ordered). This is often easiest in combination with Allway Sync.
    • 4. Another method of your choice (Google Drive has unlimited storage with your identikey, Dropbox, Crashplan, etc)
  • You have to be disciplined about making a copy of your data and documents at least every week (better if every day), updating what you have changed during the week. We have seen a surprisingly large number of people lose work, sometimes months or even years of work, for not having an up-to-date backup. Losing research data or other information due to lack of compliance with these guidelines is a serious offense.

Which software do we use?

In the group we use a pretty standardized set of software packages to do the different things we do. This is not to say that these packages are the best, I am sure we could do the same work with a completely different set of programs. However standardizing is very useful to be able to help each other learn and use the software and work effectively. You are REQUIRED to use the following packages in your work (any exceptions must be authorized by Jose):

  • Standard Install - Computer/Software install and configuration. This will be installed by the lab assistant if you get a group computer. More details and discussion of specific cases are in Asana.
  • There are other programs which can do the same function (e.g. Latex instead of Word, OpenOffice, Matlab...), however there is a great benefit on using the same set of programs as we can learn from each other and share files easily. Therefore for group work you are expected to use the standard programs above.
  • There is no standard email or web browser for the group, you can use whichever you prefer. GMail is quite useful, but some group members use Thunderbird or Outlook.

Can I use Matlab / IDL / R / etc. instead of Igor?

  • No, for many reasons:
    • There is a big benefit to the group from using a standard data analysis software tool, as everyone can answer questions about how to do something or share pieces of code to do specific tasks. We also employ two Igor professional programmers who can always help with more complex problems. And code written by one group member is often re-used or adapted by other group members, and code written in e.g. Matlab or IDL would be useless to the rest of the group.
    • Our group uses instruments such as the ToF-AMS, Q-AMS, ACSM, ToF-CIMS, TSI SMPS, or data analysis techniques such as PMF or ME-2, for which extensive analysis software is available in Igor and only in Igor. This can't be changed any more than one could not viably translate entire climate models away for Fortran.
    • Anything that can be done with other programs can be done with Igor too. At the end, the arguments about 'the best' programming language are similar to e.g. those about 'the best car.' For most of us a car that we know how to use and can take us where we need to go safely and not consume our time is what we need. In my 11 years at CU, I have never seen a student or postdoc be limited by Igor as a language. People are limited by errors in logic, poor organization of their code, sloppy naming of variables and functions, lack of comments, etc. The data analysis programming of people in our program has always been limited by their own time, insight etc., but if it could possibly be done and it mattered to us, we have done it in Igor. I do know one former researcher who insisted in translating a lot of our software into Matlab because according to him "it was a superior language"... except he never got anything practical done despite a lot of effort and ended up leaving the field.
    • Igor is the dominant language in the field of Atmospheric Chemistry in which we work. Both the CU groups and most of the groups where our students go on to work as postdocs or researchers use Igor as a main tool. In field studies we often exchange data directly as Igor experiments or Igor binary waves. And knowing Igor well is a major advantage for postdoc or research positions that you may apply to when moving on from our group.
  • Importantly, if you already know another programming language and you work on learning Igor, you will be up and running pretty quickly.
  • The only exception would be if we had to use a software package that's already programmed in a different language and that would be too difficult to translate.

Conferences and Travel

What are the group rules for attending conferences?

  • Attending conferences with all expenses paid by research funds is a privilege, not an automatic right just for being in the group.
  • Attending conferences has many positive aspects (e.g. getting exposure for your research, getting to learn what others are doing and how your work fits on the larger community, getting to know other researchers including peers and potential future employers, increasing your excitement about research, often substantial pre-conference increase in productivity etc.). However it also has drawbacks, including time away from research (which including preparations and time for focusing back into your project after the conference can often take 3 weeks) and high cost. Funding agencies are typically very stingy with conference funds, so we generally have to work hard and manage funds wisely to get many people to attend conferences during their time in our group.
  • A typical attendance level is 1 (sometimes 2) out-of-town conference per person per year.
  • A new group member can attend up to 2 conferences, given that s/he has sufficient results at the time of abstract submission, before submitting his/her 1st first-author paper in the group. After each first-author paper published, each group member can attend up to 2 additional conferences, again if new results (not those in the published paper) are ready at the time of abstract submission.
  • By submitting an abstract to a conference, you are committing to have a full draft of your presentation or poster ready by 2 weeks before the presentation. This allows sufficient time for the group to review the presentation and provide feedback. Violation of this rule can have consequences in reduced conference attendance in the future.
  • By submitting an abstract you are also agreeing to set up your travel arrangements, in particular getting the TA and plane ticket, at least 6 weeks in advance. And also to register to the conference by the early-bird (lower-cost) deadline. Lack of attention to this rule that leads to increased costs may lead to loss of per-diem for that conference and reduced conference attendance in the future, as travel funds are very limited.
  • Most of the group tends to go to (one or several of): the AAAR Annual Conference, the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, the AMS or ToF-CIMS Users Meetings.
  • Other conferences such as the Annual Conference of the ASMS, ACS National Meetings, the Gordon Conference on Atmospheric Chemistry, the Annual Meeting of the EGU in the Spring (Vienna typically), the IGAC Conference, etc., are possible if there are suitable sessions.
  • Jose will send emails ahead of the deadlines for major conferences, and at the start of the year. You are responsible to maintain your preferences updated in the "Group Schedule" Spreadsheet under the "Conferences" Tab.
  • Higher levels of productivity (>1 paper per year) or special needs (e.g. special sessions where the group needs to be represented) may lead to people attending more than 1-2 conferences per year.
  • Lower productivity (e.g. no paper submission over the last year) may lead to not attending any conference that year or even for several years. The fact that this rule is often not applied doesn't preclude that it may be in the future.
  • In general the results to be presented need to be fully cooked by the abstract deadline. Exceptions to this rule are on a case-by-case basis.
  • External funds (conference grants, certain fellowships) may allow additional conference attendance. However, note however that funding agencies (e.g. NSF, NASA, EPA) often explicitly consider fellowships as an extension of the funding that they provide to the group, and they reduce our grants accordingly.
  • Local conferences (in Boulder or Denver) generally don't count in this regard as the expenses are much smaller (transportation is free with RTD, and the group only covers registration). Note that grant rules prohibit travel reimbursements (such as per diem) if the conference is less than 50 miles from Boulder (e.g. Denver & Fort Collins) as it is considered "commuting."
  • Conferences in other continents (e.g. Europe, Asia, Australia) tend to be far more expensive. Many grants cannot be used for foreign travel, and others have a lot of extra red tape. Therefore attendance of conferences abroad is less frequent, although possible.
  • Final decisions combine all of these factors and will be made by Jose and Doug.

What behavior is expected at conferences and field studies?

  • When you attend a conference, it is a professional trip where you are representing our group, and professional behavior is expected. Many other attendees will eventually judge the publication of our research (as referees and editors) and future funding for our group (as proposal reviewers or program managers).
  • If others see you skip the conference to go sightseeing etc., or party late at night and get drunk, or don't get up in time for the morning sessions, our colleagues will notice and this could have a serious negative impact the group's future funding and research opportunities... and even more so on yours! Such behavior will not be tolerated and will certainly impact your attendance to future conferences.
  • In particular we have had some problems with excessive alcohol consumption, going to sleep too late, or poor eating habits in past group-supported trips. These are often disruptive to other group members, especially if apartments, rooms or cars are being shared or if joint work is needed. We will be watching this closely in the future.

Do we need to share rooms while on travel for field studies or conferences?

  • Yes, as funding agencies do not provide sufficient travel funds for all productive group members to attend conferences. If we did not share rooms, we would need to cut the amount of travel by a lot, including many fewer people going to conferences.
  • For field studies, sometimes a single room is available (e.g. due to an odd number of people present). In those cases the people staying the longest in the field study have priority.

What are the rules for per diem (meals) travel reimbursement for the group?

  • The total reimbursement is limited by the US government per diem rate for that location. If you spend more, it is on you (this is a CU rule, not the group's).
  • The group policy is that you should request reimbursement of the actual meal expenses, beyond what you would have spent in meals if you had stayed at home, not the full per diem. This is done because the per diem rates are often very high, and cannot be supported with the travel funds provided by the funding agencies, especially for long field studies. By claiming the actual increase in meal expenses, we save travel funds to have sufficient people in the field, and for group members to attend conferences. Receipts are not needed.
  • If a group member decides to go to expensive restaurants or drink a lot of beer, those are personal costs and not something a grant should cover, so requesting extra per-diem for those reasons is not valid.
  • Often we will set a common per-diem rate for a given field campaign or conference. Typically $20 or $25 / day as of Jan. 2015.
  • Note that if the conference / meeting is less than 50 miles from your regular place of work (e.g. conferences in Denver), Federal Grant rules do not allow any reimbursement of travel or per diem. I.e. it is considered commuting, and you couldn't be reimbursed either for driving to your regular workplace or meals there.

Do I need a driver's license?

  • Yes, since our group participates in many field studies where driving is required. If you do not have one, please see information about obtaining one here

Are there any special requirements for renting a truck to move equipment?

  • Yes. Any truck with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 10,000lbs or more used for official business requires specialized training for the University's compliance with DOT regulations, and to ensure that you are insured.
  • In general any truck over about 12' will have a GVWR of 10,000lbs or greater.
  • Please see the Practical_Ref Wiki for more deailed information.

Does CU have any insurance while on international business travel?

  • Yes, there are two as of Dec 2015: GeoBlue and SOS. You should register with both, if traveling internationally.

What about teleconferencing?

  • For seminars and phone conferences/conference calls, the current phones all have good sound quality and the speakerphone feature.
  • Slack / Zoom etc. can work well if everyone has a fast internet connection and are good for sharing screens. However, sound quality is often worse than for the phone.

Group Service FAQs

If I join the group, am I supposed to do anything else than research?

  • YES.
  • Graduate students may work as a teaching assistant (TA) during some semesters.
  • Everyone in the group is expected to perform group service at the level of 10% of their time. This should include at least one significant service task per year, e.g. maintaining some instruments etc. This helps us all by making the group run smoothly and ensuring that our infrastructure (e.g. instruments) is working. Most of the time this will be very low intensity (few hrs/week), although there will be some periods in which more work will be required.
  • For field studies in which a given person is NOT in charge, we typically ask everyone (or a subset of the group, depending on duration, needs, skills etc.) to come for 2 weeks. This allows us to pull off the field studies, and benefits everyone. Sometimes a student / postdoc is the beneficiary of the support of many others, other times it is the one providing support. We expect to take this support very seriously and work as hard as it is needed to make things work.

How is Group Service organized?

  • Tasks are assigned in Asana/Mgmt-Maintenance for each instrument, piece of software etc.
  • People should enter a comment with the frequency requested in the task noting that everything is working, or any problems and action plan, or that the item is not in use etc.
  • These assignments are updated once a year as part of the performance review process. They can also be updated more frequently if needed, per agreement of all the parties involved.

Am I expected to follow the research literature?

  • Yes, this is a basic need for someone working in research. It takes time and effort, but there is no excuse for ignorance. Not being aware of recently published research in your field is unprofessional and will give a bad impression to other colleagues at CU, people you meet at conferences etc. and hurt you during your job search after the group.
  • You should monitor the key journals within our field for papers related to your research or the group's. These are listed in this link
  • You are especially responsible for papers within your research area. You should set up multiple alerts with e.g. Google Scholar or Web of Science or similar tools to warn you of papers directly related to your research.
  • Each group member is responsible for detailed monitoring of certain journals, and posting and commenting on interesting articles on the Google+ literature community, according to these rules:
    • The list of journals is here, and the assignments are done via Asana/Mgmt-Maint. People can trade journals etc. by documenting it on the comments of the relevant tasks.
      • Importantly, if you decide to stop monitoring a journal, let's discuss via the comments on Asana, so we can decide whether to drop it, or whether someone else should take it on. We can drop secondary journals if needed.
    • InoReader is the recommended tool to monitor whole journals, complemented by Google Scholar Alerts for topics of high interest to you.
    • The number of articles posted per day should be limited to 3 (potentially lower during field studies). If there are 3 posts already, you should wait until the next day. This is to avoid the feed volume becoming too large, which some people find detrimental.
    • Each group member is expected to post at least 1 paper per month, ideally at least 2 per month. The maximum number of posts per person is only limited by the 3 posts per day limit of the feed.
    • Anyone can post papers from any journal without a waiting period, but people should make an effort to monitor their assigned journals and post the relevant papers.
    • The detailed format of the posts matters to make it as useful as possible. Figures should be of sufficient resolution, and a sub-figure should be taken if the whole figure will be too difficult to see. The text should have an explanation of why you thought it was useful, either as the title + key text from abstract, or a summary in your own words. Also please use bold by *enclosing in asterisks* to emphasize key idea for rapid reading. Use the "+1" button for posts you find most useful.
    • To post a figure, you need to upload a "photo" which is really a graphic file, JPG, GIF, PNG etc. On a PC you can do one of these: (1) open the HTML version of the paper, for the journals that have that, click on the large version of the figure you want, and just save it in your hard drive. (2) use the "snipping tool" which is part of windows, you can find it on the Start Menu under All Programs --> Accessories. You just drag the cursor around the area that you want to copy, and then save the resulting picture into a JPG. With the snipping tool method it is important to make the graph as big as possible (to have enough resolution) and then you upload into your post as a photo. (3) You can also use the "snapshot tool" in Acrobat to copy a picture into the clipboard, and then you can paste into powerpoint, and right-click on the image and select "save as picture." Again you want to make the figure as large as possible. Note that you should upload the picture into Google+ first, before you paste the link into the text, otherwise it recognizes the link and formats it in a less useful way.
    • Avoid re-posting a paper that's already posted, unless you want to emphasize a different figure or conclusion.
    • Note that comments are only emailed to the person who posted the original post and other people who have commented on that post. If you have a comment that you'd like to share it with everyone, please make it a new post.

Lab Topics

What are the Standards for Lab Safety, Cleanliness, Organization, and Practices?

  • By joining the group, you are accepting to maintain high standards of safety, cleanliness, and organization in the lab. We don't care if some other's group lab is less clean or organized, that's their problem. We need to all work on this on a day-to-day basis. E.g. we should not have scattered items on the various counters. Please put things (tools, pens, tapes, cables...) away IMMEDIATELY after you use them. Everything should have a place in the drawers / cabinets. If it does not, choose an empty drawer or cabinet, put the stuff in, and label it appropriately (the labeling materials are in the "office supplies" drawers towards the front of the lab), and ALSO enter the change in the Group Organization "Lab Inventory" Spreadsheet
  • Be especially careful NOT to lay any cables or tubes on the ground or at a low height, as these are accidents waiting to happen. Route all cables and tubing high off the ground.
  • If there is a cable tray in the vicinity, all cables and sampling lines should be located in there. All cables and lines should be NO LOWER than the cable tray height. NOTHING should be below cable tray height unless it is really really really the only way to do it. We may disassemble lines and cables that do not comply with this policy and ask you to redo them.
  • If you are working on a given location and want to keep some tools nearby, get a transparent plastic bin, label it as yours, and keep everything there.
  • If we let someone else use our lab (don't do this unless you check with Jose first), make sure that they understand the rules for safety and organization in our lab. Please make sure that they take their stuff (and leave ours) after they are done.
  • For cardboard packing boxes, there are only two possible fates:
    • If we decide to keep it (which we should do for expensive stuff that we may return for repair, such as instrumentation), write on them what they are for (e.g. "DMA Column") in big letters, and store them safely on the shelves or on top of the cabinets. If they are very large, check with Anne to bring them to storage in East Campus.
    • If we are not keeping the box, recycle it that same day, when you leave for the evening. The corner near the entrance of the lab is NOT a storage location for boxes. Each group member is responsible for this for the items s/he orders & uses.
  • Recyclables (paper at least) in the lab are not picked up very often. If you see the recycling person, please ask him/her to come to the lab that same day, and to continue coming on a regular basis.
  • If anyone (from our group or other groups) borrows a tool or something else from us, please ask them to sign it out on one of the sign-out sheets near either lab door. This is extremely important. Of course do the same if you borrow something from e.g. Maggie's lab. If they don't have a sign-out sheet, put a post-it on their door.
  • Please remember that we have lots of rechargeable batteries. The chargers (one universal, the other Ni-Cd only) are by one of the windows to the atrium. Please be careful not to throw away rechargeable batteries as these are expensive. Also if in the field, or if loaning stuff to people in other labs, please let them know about the rechargeable batteries. You'd be surprised how many of these get thrown away by people who do not pay attention.
  • Food may be stored in the student office refrigerator or inside a closed plastic tub in your desk. We had mice a few years ago, and we need to avoid that in the future. Please no food of any kind anywhere else. Also don't leave food wrappers etc. in the trash in the lab, as they can also attract mice. The microwave in the lab is for drying silica gel and other lab uses, not for food.
  • Pump use in lab: Many instruments have specific pumps that they operate with. However, for general use of pumps in the lab, such as bypass flows, make-up flows, CPCs, please use the overhead vacuum drops throughout the lab whenever possible. It has a large pumping capacity (up to 300 lpm, maintaining critical flow pressures, ~300 torr). Other pumps, such as the Gast pumps, are very loud as well as an unnecessary heat sources and power draws). Gast pumps, in particular (due to their noise), should only be used in the lab when the house vacuum is not an option (such as using it as a compressor, and only if the house compressed air won't work).

What are the rules for instrument use?

  • Each J-Group instrument has a caretaker, as part of everyone's service to the group (see below for more about group service). The people responsible for each instrument, as well as the log of the maintenance process is done through the Mgmt-Maintenance project in Asana.
  • If you use the group instruments, then it is your responsibility to make sure that it's working BEFORE you use it and 100% your responsibility to make sure it's in mint condition AFTER you used it. Any problems you create, you are responsible for fixing.
  • Anytime you CHANGE something on an instrument (swap cables, up the MCP setting, add light scattering, upgrade software, etc.) or when a problem develops (even if you think you fixed it) you need to let the instrument caretaker know.

Where can I find instructions for shutting down and instrument in an emergency?

Can I borrow a _____ from the group for personal use?

  • In general the answer is YES for short periods (1 day to 1 week), but pls write it on the clipboard which is attached to the door of the lab BEFORE the item leaves the lab.
  • Please return items promptly after you use them (next day).
  • For more expensive or critical items please ask the group first via email, and/or ask Jose.

What are the rules for using the shop area on the 4th floor?

All Group members must take a short (less than 30 minute) orientation class with one of the Lab Safety Coordinators as listed in the Jimenez/Ziemann Shop Safety Policy. Please read the policy, and get signed

How does the chemical inventory work?

  • We have an inventory of all our chemicals on the Environmental Health & Safety Bioraft page(log in with your identikey)
  • To view the inventory, go to the Chemtracker tab. From there you can search for a chemical, as well as add or remove a chemical.
  • Each chemical has a barcode that identifies it within the system. To keep the inventory current, we have to update all chemicals we add or remove from the lab.
  • When you buy a chemical through ChemStores, their staff adds the barcode and puts it in the inventory. If you buy a chemical another way you will have to assign the barcode yourself.
  • To barcode a new chemical:
    • First get a blank/unassigned barcode--there is a bag of them on the fumehood in 343, if you can’t find them talk to the Lab Assistant.
    • On the Bioraft/Chemtracker page, go to Add Inventory. Fill out the form with the information on the chemical’s label, then click submit.
  • When all of a chemical has been used, remove it from the inventory:
    • Remove the barcode from the chemical, and stick it to the disposal sheet on the fume hood in room 343. When this sheet is full, the Lab Assistant will send it to EH&S, and they will scan in and remove all the chemicals.
    • For the empty container, follow these instructions.
  • You can also purchase chemicals through the Chemprs MyLab system, by filling out the form in “Submit an Order”. Chemicals ordered this way are delivered to ChemStores, and come to you already barcoded.

Disposing of Hazardous Waste

  • All hazardous materials are collected by Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S). These include:
    • Chemical waste
    • Radioactive materials
    • Batteries
  • All materials to be picked up must have a completed hazardous waste tag (if you can't find any or we are out, talk to the Lab Assistant).
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Campus mailing services is currently not operating, but EH&S is still operating as normal. To submit waste for pickup place chemical waste tags in the clear envelope outside ChemStores.
  • To submit hazardous waste for pickup, you first must be trained as a waste generator by EH&S, and keep your certification current with annual refresher quizzes.
  • See here for EH&S's FAQs.

Transporting Compressed Gases and Liquid Nitrogen

How can I get Office Supplies?

  • By asking the CIRES message Center. They have a stash of commonly used supplies (side room, inside and to the right of message center), which we can take (for work-related purposes only). Or we can ask them to order other items if they are not in their stash.

Vacation FAQs

How much vacation do we have in the group?

  • The current policy (which is set by CU) is two weeks (10 working days) a year of vacation for graduate students. See below for extra vacation after intense field studies.
  • Postdocs and research scientists have a separate system in which they accrue vacation days with time. The CIRES human resources people can explain the details of this system.
  • Please put the days you'll be away in the Group Google Calendar.
  • Please let Jose know of your intent to take vacation if the vacation is longer than a week, or if it happens less than 6 weeks before a field study or conference that you are attending.

Can I take off for Spring Break or Fall Break?

  • No, unless you choose to take some of your regular vacation during that time. Note that the Spring or Fall Breaks are only breaks from classes, and it is NOT a vacation period from research. In fact we often work on research more intensely during those periods as people have more time since classes are not held that week.

Can I take vacation BEFORE field studies and conferences?

  • Please do not schedule vacations within a month before an important deadline, if at all possible. This refers to multiple days or a week, and applies to the people responsible for the field study or presenting at the conference, not for people just supporting. Breaking this rule without discussing with Jose first could be penalized. Examples include an upcoming field study, a conference you may be presenting at (AAAR in October and AGU in December are the main ones), a paper deadline, etc. Experience shows that these periods are very intense and your continuous presence is needed.

Can I take vacation AFTER field studies or conferences?

  • Field studies can be very draining, with continuous 12-hr workdays for several weeks and no weekends. Obviously one needs to recover after these, and the periods right after field studies are good to take time off.
  • For the same reason, scheduling your vacations AFTER a deadline (conference, etc.) is generally a very good idea.
  • In recognition of the intensity of some of our field studies, group members which participate in a field study may be able to take extra vacation, corresponding to the number of weekend days that they worked during the study. E.g. if the study was 4 weeks long, including 4 weekends, and there were only 2 off days, then the group member can take an extra 8 - 2 = 6 vacation days. These days should preferably be taken soon after the field study. Some less intense field studies do not qualify for the full policy, and in all cases this should be discussed with Jose first, and the final arrangement must be recorded via email to Jose.

Specific For Graduate Students

When can I graduate with a PhD?

  • A Ph.D. thesis is composed of at least three high-quality peer-reviewed journal papers. The condition to schedule a PhD thesis defense is that at least 2 papers must be published, and a 3rd must be submitted to the journal (after dealing with any issues and with agreement of all the coauthors).
  • If you are interested on a career in research, it may be highly beneficial to your future career to take advantage of the typically high productivity at the end of a PhD to write additional papers. However this will not forcibly delay your graduation.
  • We will support your applications for postdoctoral fellowships and positions once you are within a 6 months or so of graduation, which typically means that two of your papers are published, and we are iterating on the edits of a full draft of the 3rd paper. Applying for postdocs (or other jobs) earlier than that tends to be distracting and not really useful since you don't know when you will be available to take a position, and that timing is typically very important for employers. The graduation rule will not be change if e.g. you were to apply for a postdoc on your own and obtain a position, and then fail to graduate in time according to the above rule, due to e.g. complications in data analysis and writing of your last paper.

When can I graduate with a Masters?

  • For a masters based on research, the criterion for graduation is to submit at least one high-quality paper to a peer-reviewed journal.

What is a typical schedule for progress during a PhD?

The schedule below would be typical, although it can vary due to the needs of individual projects, impact of field projects, being lucky with early results, and especially working hard!

  • Year 1: take 4+ classes, TA both semesters, pass cumes (CHEM), join research group, start working on research.
  • Year 2: take rest of classes, take written comps in Jan. (ATOC), work intensely on research, pass oral exam, initial draft of 1st paper by end of 2nd year (Aug).
  • Year 3: take oral comps. by Dec. (ATOC), complete draft of 1st paper by Dec, submit by Apr, published by Aug. Initial draft of 2nd paper by Aug.
  • Year 4: complete draft of 2nd paper by Jan, submit by Apr., publish by Aug. Initial draft of 3rd paper by Aug.
  • Year 5: complete draft of 3rd paper by Jan, submit by May. Defend thesis in June, finish corrections and graduate in July.
    • Note 1: The years above are all academic years starting in Sep and ending in Aug.
    • Note 2: An initial draft is a complete outline with all figures in draft form using actual data. A complete draft has all text and complete references, in addition to polished figures.

How is the summer percentage of salary determined?

  • This summer percentage is calculated with a mathematical formula from your performance rating of the last 2 reviews.
  • As a research group our "products" are new knowledge, crystallized in publications, and training of researchers. If research is not published in a timely manner, it may as well not have been done. Therefore submission or publication of 1st author journal paper during the last year will result on a higher salary during the next summer. This rule only applies to the summer of year 3 or later in the PhD process.
  • Starting for the review of calendar year 2014, students on their 3rd year or later who have not submitted or published any 1st author papers over the last 2 calendar years can only receive at most a rating of "Meet Expectations" and summer salary pay of at most 60% FTE. To be clear about the dates, a student who started in Fall 2012 would be in their 3rd year during the group review process of calendar year 2014, which will take place in Spring 2015.
  • The funding situation of the group can also influence summer salary levels from year to year, but higher performing students will continue to be compensated better than lower performing ones with the above method.

Specific for Research Staff & Postdocs

How are salary raises allocated?

  • Each year CU determines the salary pool percentage. Our group total raise cannot exceed that pool. Depending on the funding situation we may or may not be able to match the pool amounts, though most years we do match it.
  • After the performance review process (using our improved version of the CIRES ASA) during the Spring, salary raises are calculated with a mathematical formula, proportional to the performance rating. The salaries are typically effective Oct. 1st of the same year.
  • As a research group our "products" are new knowledge, crystallized in publications, and training of researchers. If research is not published in a timely manner, it may as well not have been done. Therefore publication of 1st author journal papers during the last calendar year will result on a higher salary raise. (This rule does not apply to group members whose primary task is not research).
  • Starting for the review of calendar year 2014 (that will take place in Spring 2015), postdocs & research scientists who have been in the group for over a year but have not submitted or published any 1st author papers from their group research in the last 2 calendar years can only receive at most a rating of "Meet Expectations".

When can I apply for faculty or research positions after the group?

  • You need to have published (or at least submitted) at least one journal paper (2+ being much better) from the research that you have conducted in the group to have the full support of the group for such applications. If your publication output is non-existent at the time of application, in general I will not send a letter. Even if I do send it due to special circumstances, the letter will be perceived as weak since I could only talk about your great publications... that are "in preparation." As a prominent Caltech scientist told me once: "if a paper is in preparation, it doesn't exist. Papers only start having some value for the external world when they are submitted."

Field and Lab Campaigns

How long am I expected to be in the field, for group field studies?

  • Field studies are complex experiments, where there is little time to solve problems. Because we are always deploying "prototype" instruments or experiments, it takes a lot of work to make it all function. As a group we have an outstanding track record, and we have never done a field study in which we didn't collect useful data (which can't be said of all other groups).
  • Field studies are also intense and tiring and involve extended travel away from home, often under difficult conditions, and we have to manage that human aspect too.
  • Normally for each field study there is one person in the group (normally a PhD student or postdoc) who will be responsible for the analysis and publications of that dataset. For complex experiments sometimes there are 2 or even 3 responsible people, but that is less common.
  • We strive to always have 2 people in the field. From experience, this works better as it allows bouncing ideas and makes the work and travel more manageable.
  • In terms of time in the field, the person (people) who will be responsible for the analysis are expected to be in the field for the whole period. This can be 4 weeks, and at times 6 or even 8 weeks. However people normally do this only twice or so, in their PhD.
  • Other group members (who are not planning to write papers on a given campaign) are normally expected to participate in all (or most) group field experiments. Each group member is supported by others in their "core" field experiment(s), and they pay it back in other experiments. Typically other group members may spend 2-3 weeks in the field for this situation, although it can vary depending on what's going on with the group and the details of the experiment.
  • Normally people who support the field study in this way are recognized by coauthorship on the first paper from the field campaign. (Sometimes more, if they are especially involved in the data analysis)

Why/how should I take and archive pictures during major field & lab campaigns?

Participants in major field and lab campaigns should take many photos at every stage of the study, and then archive them on the group’s Google Photos account.


  • Provides a visual archive of the general and detailed setup, events, and participants of a major campaign.
  • In countless instances, it has proven useful (even critical) to be able to review such photos to recall/learn information from a broad overview to specific details of the setup of instruments, inlets, sampling lines, proximity, dimensions, etc. - for the purpose of analysis, manuscript preparation, and future planning. Often during the campaign pictures can be useful to reference in ongoing discussions of strategy, reconfigurations, etc. Sometimes pictures of other people’s setups and clever ideas can be useful in future projects.


  • During planning stages, during setup, and completed setup.
  • Broad overview pictures showing multiple instruments, inlets, sampling trailers/towers/chambers, surrounding environment.
  • Once setup complete, take detailed pictures of all instrument, inlets, pumps, etc. from multiple angles. Try not to wait until the end otherwise you may forget or people remove instruments before you get around to it.
  • Repeat as new instruments added or configurations changed.
  • Take pictures of important events (e.g., biomass burning plume in the distance, interesting features/landscape out the window of the aircraft, cows in the adjoining field, fertilizer application, bug on inlet).
  • People working or having fun.
  • Here are some examples:


  • We have a digital group camera if needed, however for most people using their personal phones is generally more convenient.
  • As of October 2017, we are using Google Photos (the descendant of Picasa) to archive pictures.
  • Before or early in campaign, curator creates a Google Photos album under the group Google account (account credentials are on the Restricted Page). Encourage participants to take their own photos.
  • After the campaign, curator sets up an Asana task with subtasks for each person involved in the campaign who might contribute pictures (or if not in group use some other method along with a subtask assigned to curator).
  • People can add their photos to the album in three different ways:
    • 1) Log into the group account’s Google Photos and directly add photos to album.
    • 2) If you created a Photos album under your own account you can share it with the group account, and provide Anne with the link so she can transfer them to the group account’s album.
    • 3) Provide Anne with the photos directly with a memory stick, Dropbox, etc.
    • It is key that you DO NOT SHARE PHOTOS DIRECTLY FROM YOUR Photos ALBUM TO THE GROUP’S CAMPAIGN ALBUM. Using that method results in simply a link to the photos in your account and therefore does not permanently archive the pictures in the group account.
  • Add picture descriptions, as useful, under “info” (not “comments”) to the bar on the right side of the picture. This is best done by logging into the group account after photos have been transferred, but it can be done in your own account before photos are transferred to the group account (as in method #2 above). “Info” is retained during the ownership transfer, but comments are not. Outside folks who don’t have access to the account can instead add “comments” if the album is shared with them.
  • After album is complete and screened for anything that would not be appropriate to be posted publicly (or simply your colleagues may prefer not have posted), have Anne create a link on the field/lab campaign page: http://cires1.colorado.edu/jimenez-group/field.html

Miscellaneous Topics

Should I get the flu shot every year?

  • This is recommended, but the group cannot officially require it and we don't regularly check either. This recommendation originated a year in which someone caught the flu and later 6 other group members got it, apparently by contagion from the initial person.

Can I send regular mail or Fedex / UPS etc. for group purposes?

  • Regular US mail is not allowed on grants. You can send mail by bringing it to the CIRES message center and stamping it with the CIRES mail code.
  • You can send Fedex or UPS as needed and those can be charged to grants. However these are expensive so please be judicious and use them only when needed. See details on the Restricted Page.

How do campus phones work?


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