I had a difficult experience at the start of my PhD. I was about a month into it when I was talking to my supervisor, who I’ll call James, in the lab. Behind him was a sign hanging from the light cord with the legend:
Beware! High stress levels – James working in the lab
This explains why I particularly enjoyed the latest PhD cartoon:
And now I’m a PI, I have established myself in a field without labs. It’s the kindest way for all concerned.
How wonderfully spot on. My PI demanded that a bench always remain reserved for her, with her name on a drawer and a set of pipettes. In my six years in her lab, I never saw her touch either the pipettes, or the bench even once. She did periodically come in to the lab to tell me how I was so spoiled and not hard core because I wore gloves in the tissue culture hood and while infecting mice with herpes. No gloves were needed in her day, apparently. [Shudder]. Of course there were also those PIs around who would come into lab to experiment, break something expensive and leave a ginormous mess for others to clean up.
It is strange how scientists start out working with their hands and end up with desk jobs. It’s a blessing for many, who were horrible at the bench, but a disappointment to others, I would imagine.
It’s humbling and annoying to fall out of practice, when you were good at the bench stuff. Microdissection, for example. Ack. Don’t get me started.
My PhD supervisor was a hands-on kinda guy (built his own boat and all that) and loved to come into the lab occasionally. He was often the only person in the lab who could get a fiddly technique to work. He also took me through my first cloning work and Western blots.
Mind you he once offered to digest a plasmid and purify the fragment for me while I worked on a conference poster (I think he was bored). He ran it off the end of the gel, not once, but twice…