Yes, I know it’s a Sunday, but nonetheless, I went to lab around 2:30 pm. As I walked out 3 hours later, I had the beginnings of a blog entry in my head. And now, that mental blog entry is here :)
I was thinking about lab and about how these past few weeks in Bhatia Lab have taught me about more than fibroblasts and the hepatitis C virus. From lab, I’ve learned a little about life – and how to live it:
1. Tell the truth. I’ve done some pretty stupid things in lab. Case in point: I’ve cracked coverslips, broken pipettes, multiplied incorrectly, and accidentally poured out too much or too little of the volume in question. I’ve shamefacedly but honestly gone to my graduate student and reported each of my accidents. Nonetheless, I do realize how terribly each of our experiments would have gone if I had lied about any one of my errors. Honesty works best.
2. Get a good night’s sleep. Every night. I’ve been in lab as late as 11 pm, and I come home exhausted. 8-9 hours of sleep does wonders for lab stamina though. Sleep is magical.
3. Don’t know something? Ask for help. I’ve asked so many questions at lab that I’ve probably driven my grad student crazy at times. When something doesn’t make sense, it is so worth it to take a few extra seconds and truly understand what’s going on. It also saves moments of looking dumb later on.
4. Think before you speak. While asking questions is great, thinking for yourself has its own merits. A couple days ago, I unthinkingly asked my grad student if I should put 2 microliters of a probe (used for FISH: fluorescence in situ hybridization) into an empty tube instead of first putting the solvent buffer in and then the 2 microliters. My grad student just looked at me for a moment, then said, “Really, Hamsika? Really?” After which I felt silly, lol. 2 microliters is clearly too small a volume to be chilling in a tube on its own.
5. Have an idea? Share it. One of the greatest strengths of lab work is the fact that there are often established protocols for various approaches and techniques. Sometimes, though, it pays sometimes to stray outside the box, take a risk, and try something different. Question everything! Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then see if you can make it better.
Haha, okay, I think I’ve been deep and philosophical enough for one day. Till next time!