Monday, September 23, 2013

I survived my first week in lab :)

Coming into a new laboratory is a very scary experience. Especially when you want to clean up and organize everything and you have a german lady as a lab technician that is about 6' 1'' feet tall! I found out that she was not very fond of my cleaning habits since she asked me "You are not one of those neat freaks are you?" But after seeing what I had done with the place, I think she actually liked it. Now I know where everything is and this place is now starting to feel more like home.  
Also, I was given a set of samples by another postdoc in the lab. He wanted me to analyze them by immunoblot in order to test my working abilities... I guess. Along the process everybody kept trying to tell me how to make my buffers, run the gel, treat the membranes and under what conditions I should transfer it, but I was very stubborn and stuck to the way I did my 10,000 previous immunoblots. All of this time I kept thinking, if surgeons are not told by every hospital how to perform a surgery, why should researchers be told how to run their immunoblots! hahaha (Yes, for researchers doing immunoblots and making them look perfect is as much of an art as surgery!) In the end, my immunoblot looked very good and it even got some people asking me under what conditions was the gel ran and transferred. So, I really hope that next time people will look at me as trustworthy and I am allowed to do things the way I know how to do them.     

Monday, September 9, 2013

Embarking on this journey called doctoral studies

Well with the start of a new semester, I start a new phase in my academic life: being a doctoral student.  I thought it wise to be conservative with my schedule since I did not know what would be expected of me and how I would need to perform.  This is new territory for me and I do feel a bit lost.  So here are the questions have been on my mind:

What do I need to accomplish this semester?
What is my plan for research?
Who should I do a rotation with?
Who should be on my committee And what the hell is a committee anyway?

I consider myself lucky to have other graduate students who can guide me. Granted I always have the program advisors and our illustrious P.I. but it is nice to have a student's perspective.  They understand better than anyone else because they were in my shoes at one time.  They will keep it real and tell me what is important for my survival.

With that, I will wish my fellow new students the best of luck and continued success as we do this thing we call science.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Labsick :S

Everybody who wants to pursue a career in research has to find a laboratory as a graduate student and jump through the hoops and loops this new environment imposes on you. At beginning, your mentor will quiz your intellectual abilities during lab meetings, and since you have never done any research in the past you will feel overwhelmed with all the new methodologies, signaling pathways, cellular mechanisms, viral life cycle events, etcetera that you are not even remotely familiarized with. Well, this is only the beginning of a long path to become someone in whom your PI will rely on completely for writing his next grants. And don't worry! As matter of fact enjoy those frustrating moments when you don't know the answer to questions, because those moments will be over sooner than you expect. Time will fly and you will start sitting down at those terrifying lab meetings thinking that all of those questions your mentor uses to quiz people are not really that hard, and in fact they will start to sound just like simple "bioLOGIC." When you reach this stage in you PhD, you will start noticing that all of the sudden you are not the new guy at lab. As a matter of fact, this place filled with flasks, buffers, chemicals, cells, bacteria, and many other weird looking things has already grown on you and is now the place you call “second home." Unfortunately, just about the time when you start to feel this way, it means that your PhD is coming to an end and that soon it will be time to move on and continue pursuing other long term goals you had in mind when you first started this journey... So, what I am saying is that you will be at some point in the same position that I am today. Once again in a new lab, as the new guy who needs to prove himself to become someone reliable and an essential component of this place that you will eventually call your second home.