Long ago I made a decision not to complete grad school. Probably not one of the brighter decisions. At the time it was clear that I wanted to work in a Lab. All of the PhD’s I knew were down since they spent their time managing labs, and were away from the bench which is what drew them into science in the first place. I love research. I love asking questions, and best of all, answering them. So. I decided to work at the bench for 10 years. That did not require a PhD. So I didn’t get once since I could work as a Research Assistant, and pay my rent! To all you PI’s pinching pennies. Promote your Assistant. Make them feel valued and they will work that much harder!.. Make them Lab Manager! Back to the story, I was a dedicated lab jockey. But that said the politics behind the scenes were for the birds.
10 years in almost 4 contracts. Low pay, lousy retirement, but great insurance and a tremendous environment. Life was not about the perks. Life was about the idea, the mission. Life was about finding drugs, targets, and solutions for people’s misery. Life was about an idea. Life was about making a difference. Life was about scientific discovery and research. I sat on a pedestal feeling high for the importance of the impact of my work. I poured my energy and creativity solving problems and fighting to make things happen, and not even a free parking space. I happily paid around $140+ back of my hard earned cash for the freedom to park a 15 minute walk from my lab. But hey, I got to avoid tickets that way!
I digress. Really, I loved the job, and the research. It’s a shame there’s not an endless supply of money to support researchers. Actually, at this point, I’d happily volunteer in a lab to make media and solutions, maybe organize the freezer stock, just because I miss it. No pay. Really. I’ve done that between contracts in the past where I volunteered my time to continue research. I know other post research career individuals who probably would too.
Remember. The life of a scientific researcher isn’t supposed to be about money. It’s about the love of watching bands travel on the gel. It’s about the hope that your cells grew the way they were supposed to. It’s about reading 2d gels and making sense of those little blobs.
Why post a year later? A blog deserves a post once a year. But really, there’s a story coming, but I’ll post that later after I know the results. A word to you all out there. Karma. To all of you PI’s who are pissed at your Techs or Post Docs that didn’t bring you results. They broke their ass for you, and it’s not their fault that your ideas didn’t work! Be kind. It’s a small world out there! Do a count of how many people work in your area if interest.
Feel like posting about your life in Lab Research? Drop me a line. Day to day lab antics? Cool. Life the politics of the lab? Cool.. Notes about your research? Sure as long as it’s ok to post publicly about it.
For the moment, I’ve found my way out of lab politics, and happy to be out. I’d love to hear about experiences. Have any of you made it out?