Tuesday, May 19, 2009


As of next week, we will have two new graduate students joining the lab.  I have decided to call them my little ducklings, since they’re each going to be taking on about a third of my projects.  (Which is indicative of how insane my lab life has become.  That’s right…I have enough crap going on to happily split between three of us with very, very little overlap.)  Of course, they’re also going to be my little ducklings because other FGS will be on maternity leave soon and the golden child is clearly too important to help lowly new graduate students.  Which leaves me. 

I feel like I should be a touch upset about the whole situation.  I have no doubt that it’s going to be a lot of extra time and effort for me.  Duckling 2 is fairly independent and I trust her to do most of the experiments I think she should be doing in the next month or so.  Duckling 1, however, may be a bit high maintenance. 

When Duckling 1 rotated in the lab, Post-doc Friend was supervising her.  After Post-doc Friend left the lab, Duckling 1 was sort of left to me, but I did a horrendous job training her.  It was just an out and out failure on my part.  She learned really only one of the many techniques that we use, and it’s one that any monkey with a pipette can handle.  This coupled with her personality as well as the pace at which she works have led me to believe that she will be a bigger drain on my time.

When Duckling 2 rotated in the lab, I did a much better job.  I learned from my mistakes with Duckling 1, and she had a very successful rotation.  She generated some really cool data that I’m excited about, and I’m really glad that she’s coming back (and not just because despite thinking the data’s cool that I really don’t want to go there myself).  I think she’s inherently more independent than Duckling 1, which is why I think she’ll be less of a time sink.  She also learned many more techniques when she rotated, so there will be less introductory time required.

Despite knowing that supervising these ladies is going to be a drain on my time and resources for a while, and despite my general bitterness about the golden child and his contributions and focus, I’m excited.  Duckling 2’s rotation was the first time I had really mentored someone, and I am realizing that I really enjoyed it.  I’m hopeful about the ducklings starting in the lab.  I’m hopeful that I will be able to teach them and train them and help them avoid mistakes that I’ve made along the way. 

More importantly, the hope that I’m feeling is also for myself.  It’s another little bit of warm fuzzy goodness that makes me think that I really do want to be a PI.  Science has got me down lately, but I’m trying my best to retake control.  I keep trying to remind myself why I’m here, why I love this and where I’m going, but that can be hard.  It’s little tidbits like this that are keeping me afloat right now.

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