In which we make a move

There’s a lot of change going on in my life right now, all at once. In addition to giving birth sometime in the next fortnight and needing to finish up a major piece of work-related writing before that, my lab has just moved across town.

We leave behind us a remote satellite outpost in Archway, its listed buildings sold to developers for purposes unknown. It was never optimal, but it is still filled with good memories for me, being the site of my first independent position. Also, we have now physically split from the clinic, where basic scientists and medics have been working together just a floor apart to understand the deep biology underlying chronic urinary tract infections. Our very close collaboration will continue unabated, but with the clinic moving a few miles north, and us moving a few miles south, it will never be as free and easy. So there is definitely an element of sadness about leaving it all behind.

Packing up…

Now, we find ourselves amidst a bewildering array of hundreds of piled-up crates in a building within the university’s main campus – a stone’s throw away from Euston Station. We’ve moved into the abandoned floor of a very old building, nominally refurbished as a place to temporarily “decant” various university departments who are ultimately destined for new, not-yet-completed buildings. Our date with destiny is in two years’ time, when we move again to our (hopefully) final resting place a few blocks further south. So we’ll be here a while, in this strange place with its antique hardwood and glass cases, wooden benches and other charming nostalgic touches, like walls that can’t be drilled because of the asbestos. Still, with a lick of paint and a deep clean (including that alarming space on the lab floor cordoned off with ancient radioactive tape), it’s now looking pretty good.

Of course, while it’s great to be back into the mainstream – with its easy access to collaborators, seminars, proper cafés and, let’s face it, people who actually work with lab reagents I sometimes have an urgent need to borrow on short notice – moving labs is always incredibly disruptive. You really don’t know where to begin. But like true Brits, we said sod the microscope suite, tissue culture and lab benches: let’s start with the tea room.


And once I’m allowed to drink again, I’ll be very happy indeed to frequent our new local, one of my favorite pubs, which happens to be just across the street.

So raise a virtual glass to our new home, and all the scientific adventures that will soon be playing out here.

About Jennifer Rohn

Scientist, novelist, rock chick
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8 Responses to In which we make a move

  1. cromercrox says:

    Did you remember the jar of Marmite?

  2. No, but I definitely packed the extra-large bottle of industrial-strength Gaviscon.

  3. Scott says:

    It seems that in lab as in home, the tea and kettle are the most important things to pack and the first to unpack. Hope you settle in well & fast. Any funky glassware?

  4. Nothing funky in the new place, but I brought along a few ancient pieces from the old lab just because I couldn’t bear to think of them trashed. Good decorations for the office!

  5. cromercrox says:

    Old glassware – brings back memories of school chemistry. My school was a most peculiar place (a Rudolf Steiner school) and all the glassware was kept in hardwood, glass-fronted cabinets. Much of the glassware was of unfathomable purpose and/or broken. Before we did experiments we often had to make our own equipment by kludging bits of stuff together. Such adversity taught me a great deal about experiments and set me up nicely for university.

  6. rpg says:

    … kludging bits of stuff together. Such adversity taught me a great deal about experiments and set me up nicely for university.

    ‘kludging bits of stuff together’ sometimes feels like how I run my life.

  7. Congrats on the new digs, Jenny. Always nice to be close to collaborators and, as you say, people you can borrow reagents from.

    Did you bring the useful lab engineers from upstairswith you, by any chance?

    We are slated for a move in two weeks’ time, into a shiny new building a block or two farther away from the university campus. Grand opening next Tuesday. Exciting times. 🙂

  8. bean-mom says:

    Congratulations on the move and also the impending baby!! (I missed your Guardian article and had no idea!) My first postdoctoral lab moved physical locations three times during my five years there (lots of campus construction and shuffling of lab spaces en route to the fabled permanent digs). We quickly got very good at packing and unpacking a lab, and by the third time we are setting up experiments the day after the move.

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