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mission updated April 2022

Holding a Parrot


The Ouyang lab welcomes anyone who has an interest in studying animal adaptation to changing environments. We aim to train students with an interest in building fundamental scientific knowledge and applying that knowledge with biomedical, conservational, and/or societal relevance. We welcome everyone with enthusiasm and drive in fostering an environment where all can learn and grow.


Our lab uses a bonsai metaphor for building positive relationships:

Fostering mentee growth is similar to cultivating bonsai. Bonsai plants need soil, water, and nutrients, but also trimming and guidance for stray branches. Every bonsai is unique, like students from diverse cultural, family, and education backgrounds, and has the potential to be a thriving plant. By providing guideposts, we let the tree branch and grow naturally. By providing support, we let the student explore, while making mistakes and learning to flourish.


How do we foster a productive, rich, and happy research environment?

We recruit and retain mentees by giving them an environment in which they can flourish.



  • We open the door to mentees of different backgrounds and starting lines. 


  • We culture a lab environment that is inclusive and celebrates diverse people, experiences, and ways of thinking.

  • We acknowledge our own biases and are open to continuous bi-directional learning (opening ourselves to feedback and constructive criticisms). 

  • We foster a community where everyone feels safe to talk to each other and external mentors/colleagues.

  • We recognize that inherent hierarchies exist but that as a whole, we have a common goal post. Mistakes happen, and we recognize what is important is the learning process.

  • Productivity comes as a result of guiding the personal development of the scientist as a whole.

Indoor Bonsai Tree
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