Archive for June, 2012

Not Loving the Bench Lately

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Academia, Post-Doc

Lately it’s been a bit of a drag at the bench. It’s a bit odd because I got some very exciting data about a month ago and am in the process of following it up. It could be a pretty sweet story too, as it makes use of a novel technique I’ve spent the last year or so working on and the data it has yielded is quite novel. So I should be excited at the prospect of starting to really hammer out a nice story, right? And I am…to an extent.

However, I find the prospect of grinding through all the nitty gritty experimental details I now need to do quite daunting. Should I use an antibody from Cell Signaling that’ll probably kick ass but cost a fortune or a cheaper one that might work just as well? Should I use this buffer or that? Is this primer’s melt curve good enough, is it efficient enough? Should I isolate cells today, or tomorrow? Why are my fucking cells dying? Blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. Fucking boring technical hoopla is what it is. I just want to get on with it! Better yet, I want to tell someone else to get on with it! If only I had another postdoc, PhD student, technician to share the burden with.

But this brings me to my bigger question: is this a good thing? In other words, is it good that I’m getting bored with working at the bench?  I would like to be a PI one day and the vast majority of PIs I’ve seen are never in the lab. So it seems that it’s a good thing not to love being at the bench since the job I aspire to consists of no bench work. I still love the science, reading articles, reviewing papers, going to conferences, presenting work etc. But the prospect of actually pipetting all day and grinding out the boring details for the next 5+ years is quite daunting. As Edison said, it is truly 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration! Don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the need for technical competency if one is to get a lab up and running, and I have confidence in my mad skillz and the ability to pass ’em on…

 

So what say you internet? Is being bored with pipetting and technical BS a good sign if one wants to be a PI? Or am I just turning into a lazy ass bastard?

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I’ve never lived at a latitude as far north as, well, all of the UK. With the summer solstice approaching and the days growing longer than I’ve experienced for most of my 30 years of existence, I find myself working later into the day with more energy. For example, today I was just keepin’ on keepin’ on, gettin’ my research on like LL Cool J mackin’ on broads, and before I knew it I was sharing the communal lab space with just the middle eastern fellow in the neighboring lab (aahh, working in a European lab). Then I glanced at the clock and my eyes bugged out when I saw it was 7:30 already! Hot damn, I wasn’t even tired. Even had enough energy to pound out an abstract for an upcoming meeting my adviser has been hounding me about (for no reason, the damn thing isn’t due for another week or so) before leaving at 8.

Then I realized, that pang of guilt I feel when leaving the lab “early” at 5:30 on some days over the past couple of months is because of how damn light it is outside. There’s something unsettling about leaving work when it looks like noon outside. It’s funny how we entrain ourselves to our native light-dark cycle.

The thought then occurred to me, if I lived in the arctic circle right now I’d probably work 24hrs straight before noticing. Weird….