Oh Look, Krill!

Oh don't worry. Whales don't eat clownfish, they eat krill.


Dear Science

We’re in a rut. It’s not doing any favours to our already rocky relationship. You’re starting to get dull and boring, and I don’t find you as attractive anymore. Even the little things that you try to entice me with, the trainings, the new fangled techniques, the new science discoveries, it just isn’t exciting me as it used to.

I think that we need a break, you and I. Or maybe we should move our relationship to a new place. A place where we can be happy once more. A place where I can fall in love with you again and remember why I fell in love with you in the first place.

I miss the exciting times we had. Now, I just can’t look you in the face without wanting to punch people. Why has it come to this? Where has that spark gone, my love? I want you back, I just don’t know how.

I still love you, but I don’t know for how much longer.

Loving you always (I hope),
Me


Like A Rat On A Sinking Ship

When you look around and all your friends have left. When you see that the people that you used to see every day at work are gone. When you see empty lab benches, when you hear about other labs closing, the ultimatums issued to other institutes, won’t you get scared?

Won’t you feel like, despite the fact that you have a job, it’s not as secured as you thought it was?

I’m starting to feel like I should abandon ship as soon as an opportunity presents itself because I don’t see things getting better here.

It’s bad, across the board. Everyone in this industry here, is affected by the major changes that they just dropped into our laps last year.


I’m starting to feel like things are only going to get worse. I see that everyone is stressed out just trying to keep their jobs.

I need to leave and I need to leave as soon as possible, I just don’t know what I’m looking for. I don’t know if I want to do the same thing like I’m doing now or try something new because frankly though, as much as I love the lab, I’m a little burnt out.

I’m trying to find a full-time, permanent position. So far, I’ve only been to one interview but I’m going to keep trying. There’s bound to be a job out there for me.


Memories Of The Science Centre

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When I was in school, nothing excited me more than a field trip. It meant that we get to go out of the class and not be stuck listening to sometimes boring teachers. The Science Centre has always been a favourite of mine because it’s so interactive.

SMOOSH ALL THE BUTTONS!

I love running around the different exhibits and smooshing all the buttons. Back then, we didn’t know you’re supposed to be patient and wait for something to happen before pressing all the buttons to see what happens. Of course, nothing worked when we did that so we kept running from one exhibit to another, doing exactly the same thing.

While I was doing some spring cleaning I found something that brought back a lot of memories.


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I found a Young Botanist badge that was part of the Young Scientist Program. I don’t know if it belongs to be or one of my sisters since we have a tendency to misplace tiny things like that. I had a Young Botanist and a Young Zoologist badge when I was in school. I didn’t have time to complete the Young Astronomer one before I headed to secondary school.

I think that most of my peers would have tried for at least one of these badges and like what Seriously Sarah said, it’s the original Gotta Catch ‘Em All!. I definitely learned a lot from doing the activities on the card and I think that was the whole point of it.

Apparently, this program is still done even now, though I wouldn’t know how active it is. It’s interesting programs like this and the entire experience of growing with the Science Centre that I’d love to share with my future children one day. It’s sad that some of the exhibits seem to always be under maintenance but I guess having hundreds of kids running around almost every day, smooshing all the buttons, will do that.

I’d love to see the Science Centre continue growing and being a wonderful educational place for our future generation.


Scientific Epiphany II

Three years ago I had an epiphany with regards to science and my working life. This morning, while I was sitting through a weekly research update at my work place, I had another one. I was looking at the slides that were being presented and I knew then that I wanted to stay in research.

I know, I know, I’ve said that I’m looking for a change and that I’m a little burnt out from research. Truthfully I am but today’s talk made me realise how much I love being in the lab. Yes, I complain, moan and despair at the job sometimes but underneath it all, I enjoy it. I love it even. I want to stay in the lab and I love working with the machines, with my hands, pipetting and all that jazz. The only problem is that I need direction.

What I need is a mentor to guide me. Not so much in the hand holding but in showing me where I went wrong and motivation. I learned from my graduate studies that while I can work independently, I still need someone to tell me if I’m on the right track or of I’m way off course. Not hint at me on what to do but full out tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I can do to get back on course.

I want to be the one to do the work, to produce the results and learn how to analyse the data. I don’t want to be the one stuck in the office, writing grant proposals, holding meetings after meetings and just end up being an administrator. I want to stay in the lab, so going forward with a PhD may not be the best thing for me. Also, I don’t think I have the fortitude for it.

So how do I go about getting what I want? I think it’s time to find another lab. I have strong technical skills, as long as they’re not biochemistry but I’m willing to learn. I’m adaptable (after some whining and whinging, that’s my process, deal with it) and I’m good with my hands. I want to continue learning and be the best damn researcher without a PhD that I can be. Now, to find another lab who’s willing to pay me more than what I’m getting now.


When science makes me cry

I’m tired today. Super, super exhausted seeing that I didn’t sleep well last night due to thinking about my project. So, my emotions may not be at its most stable.

So, when I’m trying to do experiments while being this tired. The littlest thing can set me off. I’d planned to run two sets of assays, then take a nap. However, the machinery wasn’t cooperating. I’d prepared my samples on a plate and just as I was about to put in the sample plate into the machine, I found that the computer had hanged. This computer has been obsolete for almost a decade and yet, they’re still using it. It wouldn’t restart or even switch on after I managed to switch it off.

Due to the time sensitive nature of the experiment, I needed to start the results reading as soon as I put in the sample plate but with the computer being a douche canoe, I wasn’t able to do that.

There was cursing and banging of the mouse and I’m ashamed to admit it, I cried tears of frustration and stress. It took me a good fifteen minutes to calm down and it was a good thing that noone was around to witness that.

So here I am now, sitting at the canteen and listening to my fellow students talk about stuff, I don’t know what since I’m not paying attention. So I’m going to plan a back up protocol using the huge ass spectro if they can’t get the computer fixed.

Also, I really need to sleep at some point.


Almost A Decade Later

I’m still into my first job and I just signed another three-year contract with the company. I think that for most people, they would have had at least two different jobs in those ten years. I’m still here.

One of the main reasons I’ve not left is mainly due to not wanting to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been sitting at this exact desk, working at the exact same lab bench for the last nine years. Every thing is where I want it to be and I know where everything is.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve been doing the exact same thing in the last almost decade. I’m currently on my third boss, since they seem to leave every couple of years. As these principle investigators have different research scopes or areas of interest, I’ve been involved in many different kinds of research, different technology platforms and best of all, I had the chance to learn a number of different techniques that I’ve never heard of before or something that I’ve only read in research papers.

It’s not so bad actually.

Though, I don’t know if I’ll still be here at the end of this new contract. The main reason for me to sign a new one is so that I will at least have a job to return to when I’m done with my short sabbatical to complete my Masters research project. With the way that the scientific job market looks like, I needed the job security net.

Once I’ve graduated, if an opportunity presents itself for me to move to a different area of science (with better pay, perks and not so bad a work load *well, I can dream right?*), I might move there but in the mean time, I’ll stay where I am and make the best of it.


Drowning In Plant Science

Last night, I went for my first class of the semester. I had to choose between Seminars in Zoology or Advanced Plant Physiology as an elective. I decided to go with the plants module since the other was very heavy for an elective and even my supervisor had advised against it.

Plants have never been something that I enjoyed learning, personally, because the cross section of a plant looks creepy and disgusting under the microscope, but moving on.

Yesterday’s class was done by a guest professor who flew all the way from Lancaster to give us the lecture. I’ve had a class with him in before in a previous module and he is superbly passionate with his work. Unfortunately because of his passion, he rarely takes breaks between each slides, so that made it difficult for me at least to take down as much notes as I wanted.


I felt like I was drowning in information. It was a very information dense class. There was one point in the class where I was just staring at him, watching his mouth move in words that I knew were in English but my brain just could not process what he was saying. I’ve never felt so out of my depth before.

He went through three different lectures and towards the end, he was explaining what each of the different graphs mean. He lost me there. I’m just so very thankful that he included the references for the papers where those information came from, so at the very least, I could read those papers on my own and see if they make sense to me.

Since the guest professor will only be in town for a couple of days, we’ll be having another intensive day tomorrow. A Satuday day, for most of the day. Sigh.

I’m really hoping that I won’t be as lost as I was yesterday. We’ll be in the lab the entire time and we’ll be doing both a lecture and a practical, with new equipment that I’ve never used before. This could get very interesting.

That was just the first day of the semester. I really, really, really hope that the rest of the semester won’t be as intimidating.