Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Now that I have grown up and have a family of my own (hey, a fur-kid still counts as a kid), I realize that I don't have to be pulled into the mundane drama that seems to follow my immediate family around like the proverbial black cloud. In a fit of despair, I (ok, "we" since I am in an equal opportunity marriage) decided to run away for the holidays. In early October, Mr. Dr Zeek and I booked our tickets and hotel rooms for Las Vegas. We were skipping Christmas this year.
After pushing the "confirm" button, I felt empowered. I was doing something "naughty". I was going against the grain, I was going to be out of town during one of the busiest (and most "cherished" in my mother's eyes) holidays. But honestly, the thought of visiting four families (my mom's side, my dad's side and the same for Mr. Dr Zeek's family) in two days made me cringe. I just couldn't do it this year. And Mr. Dr Zeek was in full, if not more than full, agreement.
So we headed out from the land of snow and ice to the land of excess. We had been there once before when we were Mr. and soon-to be Dr. Zeek (I was neither a Zeek nor a Dr. at the point) but due to that tiny little thing called a wedding, we had little time to walk around Vegas and enjoy the sites, food and drink (since neither of us gamble). This time, though, was different. Walking around, looking at the lights, the glitz, the glam, it was amazingly awesome, and not too mention one of the most relaxing holidays ever. No drama. No bullshit. No guilt-trips. Best. Christmas. Ever. Well, OK maybe not as good as the Christmas when I got the Cabbage-patch kid Big Wheel I had been lusting after, but it was damn close.
While Mr. Dr Zeek's family understood why we were skipping the holidays this year, our free pass was good for this year and this year only, which means next year we have to travel the 90 miles, endure the fake smiles, laugh at the horribly corny jokes and remind my grandmother that I am not that kind of doctor and have no idea what that lump on here right toe is or why the snake oil she bought doesn't seem to be doing anything for her arthritis. But, my dear friends, it was good while it lasted.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
My obsessiveness also extends into experiments. I want to make sure they are done "right" whether that means running more points for a double reciprocal plot or running at a ton of different concentrations. When bigboss man suggests to run a four-point plot, or check things at three concentrations, a little part of me dies inside. And, its something I think I may need to get over. Its hard for me to run a "quick-and-dirty" check on something to see if its worth pursuing further. Now, mind you, things don't usually work on the first try. In fact, I have a "rule of three" in my lab- the first run gets you used to the experiment and almost never works as plan, the second run gets you "some" usable data, but usually entails working out the small glitches and the third and subsequent runs are the ones which you can usually trust.
And it has backfired on me a few times. Once, when working on a extremely complex form of inhibition, bigbossman looked at me and said there is "too much data" and it is making things confusing. So now, I have to change the way I present things to him so that it doesn't look so confusing.
There is another form of obsessiveness that appears to take things over. Since I have no little Dr. Zeeks running around and Mr. DrZeek is pretty self-sufficient (ok, so I do most if not all of the cooking-but he know how to order from the pizza place) I have a tendency to spend a lot of time in the lab. A lot. Not as much as some people (my brain cuts out after about 10 hrs of solid lab work-- people there for 12-15 hrs a day are freaking superhuman in my eyes), but enough that I come home exhausted. And spending a Sunday afternoon in the lab (after football that is) is nothing for me. Mr. DrZeek has no problems whatsoever with it, but still, I feel guilty. But I enjoy what I do, and I have some hobbies. I just seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the lab and working from home, for that matter. My parents have recently said that I was selfish, self-centered and obsessive when it came to work. Because I am trying to make a name for myself, publish as much as I can and just do really cool science. Is that so wrong?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Oh yeah, forgot. Today is the first official day of my fellowship. I am officially an NIH-funded post-doc fellow. Funny, I don't feel any different.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Well, it looks as though you have gotten yourself stuck in a somewhat precarious position. Just do the experiments, don't let anyone except Big Boss Man know what you are doing, write the paper and let him decide what he wants to do with it. Isn't that why they pay him the big bucks (and he pays you to do what you are good at?) At this point, is it really worth arguing with research scientist about her data, her manuscript-that of course just needs tweaking-and how this is going to be her paper submitted this year. It is not worth it. You've already talked to Big Boss Man, he told you what he wants you to do (and of course your really cool experiments that go with it) and knows that the research scientist is not happy with this arrangement. It's not your fault the data is shitty and needs to be redone. It's not your fault you know how to use really cool technique. Suck it up, shut your mouth and don't get baited into an argument with research scientist about it.
Dear Research Scientist-
First of all, thank you for giving me a copy of the paper you are working on. No, wait, you didn't. Big Boss Man had to photocopy it for me. Ok, let's start this again, thank you so much for including me in the author list of the paper you are writing, especially since you go into details in the methods about the really cool experiment that I have researched and I am going to run. Oh, wait, that's right I wasn't included on your author list. Hmmm...ok thank you for arguing with our boss about where to submit the paper- I do agree that our normal, default (but still very good) journal may not be the best place for this paper and commenting on how long it is going to take me to do everything so we just should submit the incomplete, preliminary data to highly competitive journal and look like a bunch of idiots. No, that one is genuine, you did do that. Thank you for throwing me under the bus, trying to make me look like an idiot with no skills.
Time will tell, dear research scientist, time will tell. And oh yeah, shooting to get out one paper every two years- not so much. You are lucky Big Boss Man is cool and has already established himself-where else can you go where a paper (or short communications) is productive enough (average for our field-dear one- is 1-2 papers every YEAR). But, I know you are busy and supposedly make less money than me (because you pay daycare- that makes no sense in my brain). Really, I must thank you though for bringing out the attitude in me, bringing back the drive and the constant pressure of trying to prove myself. Thank you for not making the lab a motherfucking care bear tea party. I appreciate the competition. Bring it on. Please do not feel bad if I ignore you in lab. I do not want to hear about "tummy" aches or anything else you have to say. Its not personal, its business. Wait, no it is personal...never mind.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wofford? Where the hell is Wofford?? Oh, wait, its "the quintessential liberal arts college" in South Carolina whose "historic trip" to Camp Randall will be the largest crowd to ever watch the Terriers play. Hahaha. We better win.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Note, the use of the word *was*. The research scientist in my lab, who had done some early work on my favorite protein (MFP) decided to "correct" me after my talk on an answer I had given to one of the few questions I had. Her "correction"- as in telling me what was in the crystal structure- didn't answer the questions any better than I did. In fact, her comments didn't answer the questions at all. When I mentioned this to her, she back-tracked and informed me "that this was for my future knowledge" yadda-yadda-ya. The thing is, everything she tells me is for my future knowledge. Some of her other golden nuggets of knowledge include
"You can not use a P 2 to do kinetics"...duh,
"When you use para film, you have to pull it and stretch it otherwise it won't seal" ummm, yeah
"IF you want to go anywhere with molecular biology you have to do this this way..." even though I was training *her* on my optimized techniques
It is always an uphill battle with her. I off-handedly mention a conversation I had with old grad student and laugh about the things he was saying and two days later she comes in explaining the methods/ideas/theories to answer his questions like I am the one who doesn't know what is going on. She can't get past the fact that yes, she has more experience than me since she has been doing this longer, but we are equals. I am not a grad student or an undergrad lacky she needs to hover around and constantly teach. I'll ask for help (preferably NOT from her) if I need it.
But now here comes the problem... research scientist is semi-versed in a technique that I used extensively in grad school. Before I showed up in the lab, she was the go-to person to do these experiments, but now my boss has turned to me (especially since I came up with a really novel experiment using said techniques for our grant and the reviewers just about wet themselves when they saw it). Anyways, he wants me to redo, as he says "these other experiments since we now have an expert on [cool technique] in our lab" meaning me. I also came up with cool new idea that would, if it works, give us the definitive data we need to answer this long-standing question.
Of course, those previous experiments were done by research scientist. And of course, when I asked her about the procedures for securing time/training on really cool equipment at the University's facilities, she knew exactly what experiment I was doing. She now thinks that all of here experiments before are beautiful and publishable and all we need is my key experiment (which by the way, she has verbalized that she has no idea how I came up with the idea and she didn't-I kid you not). So now, we are meeting on Monday morning to go through her data (which I haven't seen because she was pretty secretive about it all- she is really protective of her experiments so that you cannot jump on the paper but wants to know/contribute to everyone else's data in the hopes that she can jump on your paper). So here I am stuck with her telling me how fantastic her data is and how my boss wants me to redo all of it.
And she is running with my experiment. After googling it (I shit you not) she comes running in my lab "Oh, this will work! I can't believe I didn't think of this. I can't believe you thought of this and I didn't think of it..." for about 10 minutes. She then proceeds to ask me when "we" are going to run this experiment and can "we" start at 9:30 in the morning (since she has to drop her kids off at daycare- mind you I get into the lab at 7:30) and then I can watch her do the experiment and then finish it when she leaves at 2:30 (to pick her kids up).
What's this we shit? This is my idea. My baby. My favorite protein. I came up with this, let me fucking run with it. Stay away! But I can't say that. If I do, her feelings will get hurt and she will come into the lab, telling me how she was the one who suggested to boss man to put me on this project, how she was the one who told him this would be a great project for me. Its like I owe her for telling him to give me this project (not that she had the time to work on it-so it wasn't a matter of her giving anything up), that my hard work and busting my ass to get out a paper, write a grant and a fellowship, all that shit means nothing. It was all her. Maybe I should bring her flowers every week as a thank you for having the insight to mention to my boss that this would be a good project for me.
I just needed to rant and get my shit together for Monday. I hate confrontation (I know, get over it) but this is now getting ridiculous. Suck it up, act like the PI-in-training that you are and tell everyone to BACK off!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Don't panic...breathe...don't ...ARRRGGHHHHHH!!!!
I don't know if I can pull this off. No, really. They are going to figure me out.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Came in to read papers and get some paper work/seminar slides done (while the autoclave was running and the bacteria is recovering-about three hours worth of paper-reading, slide making "free" time). I was fine until I sat down with my coffee. I can barely keep my eyes open. You could literally blindfold me with dental floss at this point. WTF? Two cups down and I am still no closer to being awake then I was about 30 min ago. Where in the hell did the motivation go? I am just counting down until the autoclave finishes-I need to go to bed.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I am trying to find the motivation to clean my lab right now- knowing that if I put in a full decent work day today I can cut out early tomorrow and start my vacation a few hours earlier. The problem- I am so damn tired and burnt out I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open right now...
Friday, August 14, 2009
Not only is the review looming over my head, but bigbossman asked me if I would give a talk at our seminar series in a month or so since the gradstudents need an extra week to prepare their seminars. Sure. No problem (panic panic panic). I still don't feel like I have the lingo down and that giving a 45-min seminar (granted on my work) may be a bad idea. And the undergrads (note the plural, I have two minions this semester) will be pouring in the lab around that time- all eager and ready to learn...shit. Too much on my plate right now, what with party planning for the sister (when my parents said they want to plan a party for my lil' sis they should have just said "Dr. Zeek, can you plan a party for sister Zeek?"). Almost at the paralyzing point (did I mention data generation has slowed since I have no more protein! GAHHHH! 10 days from start to finish for each one-granted I can multi-task but this is putting me around the middle of September before I have protein...grrrr). Anyone have a hole I can crawl into?
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So, knowing all this, seven years and a masters. Is it right? A former committee member said he should have gotten his PhD just for being there so long. What?!? I personally wish (a) someone would have told him how bad he sucked a year ago (b) they (the committee) would have nailed him to the wall at his annual meetings (which he conveniently dodged the last 18 months) and (c) they would have been harder at the defense because the gradstudent still is arrogant with a huge chip on his shoulder. Yup- wasn't his lack of work, effort, etc that got him his masters, rather it was poor advising. For some reason, my boss told him to try things that didn't work. Go fucking figure- and here I thought we were doing research, not "search"....any thoughts?
Sunday, August 9, 2009
On a completely unrelated but somewhat-sciencey note- I really wish the big boss man would get back from his vacation! I am bursting to tell him about the fellowship approval before the busybody in the lab tells him. It's my fellowship-damnit! Let me have the joy of seeing the expression on his face!
Tues is grad student's "thesis" defense. Defense will be the operative word since he is going to have to do some real slick, real fast talking to be able to get out of here with his PhD. I have now moved all of my enzyme out of our shared -80 C freezer to an undisclosed area, in case things go bad and he decides to pull something like this. Is it sad that I am actually worried about this? Paranoid-not so much- this guy is a little out there.
Time to go home and get some work done (and then some working out). Question for the great wide void: does it matter WHEN you work out? morning, evening, lunchtime? and would it be better to work out at the same time everyday, or can I mix it up (I know routine will help me stick with it, but are there any weight loss benefits from say working out in the morning before breakfast OR after dinner once most of your meals are in??)
Saturday, August 8, 2009
OK, anyways- so today decided to take the great leap and put in the 40-minute "cardio party" (yes, that's what it says on the box) jam dvd in. Hmmm...party. To me a party brings to mind the images of food and beer and laughing and relaxing, not the 40-min sweat-fest that I endured this morning. It went something like this...
First, I have to tell you that all of the people on these tapes have the perfect body, and the slave driver-- I mean the leader of them all has a set of six pack abs and maybe a total of 2 ounces of body fat. The old guy in the back, though, may be good for a laugh.
5 min in-- OK, warming up, nice and easy- I can do this for 35 more minutes...wait, why are you speeding up we are still warming up...OK, OK, got the groove- no don't add anything to it yet, I haven't gotten the first moves down right.
15 min in --how in the hell do you move that fast. no really, I think I am ten steps behind wait kick where huh..shit I missed that one come on, how can the old guy be doing this he's not even sweating... what the hell
35 min in-- ok, my shirt is stuck...seriously what are you talking about second wind...that came and went about 10 minutes in. and how can the old guy be jumping around like that? and why are you not all sweating? i hope you all die.
40 min in- cool down...ok, I can do this--wait yoga, grab my ankle and pull it where? are you kidding me? how about if I just stretch...ok, done...no really, I am done...
All in all, while the work-out kicked my ass- but that feeling of I did it, I finished it, I feel good...OK, yeah it was worth it. And the shower afterwards? Heaven. The best part of the work-out. I can do this again. I think. No, I can. Tomorrow.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Dear Dr. Zeek-
I am happy to inform you that the individual super-awesome fellowship application has been approved for funding. Blah-blah paperwork blah blah-starting October 1st blah-blah.
Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously! And the council meeting wasn't even supposed to be until sept 9th. If I would have woken up this morning with my head stapled to the carpet this morning, I wouldn't have been more surprised then I was when I opened that e-mail.
Seriously. Cloud nine? Try cloud ninety-nine. I now have three years to play in the lab and do all the super-hot science I can. So how are Mr Dr Zeek and I celebrating tonight? Chinese delivery. mmmmmm...pork lo mein and crab ragoons....
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I came in as some what of a wild-card. Not only was a drastically switching fields from what I had worked on in grad school, but personality and "style"-wise, I was somewhat of the odd duck. The tattoos (which, I must say in my defense-are completely covered with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt) and the nose piercing coupled with the somewhat purple-ish tinged hair (more eggplant/dark brown) and love of rock music branded me as the rebel and, in a way, shaped the way people looked at my science for the first few months. One of my lab mates even asked the other "Why did he hire her?" This had nothing to do with my track record, nothing to do with the fact that, in all reality I am a personable person, but had everything to do with not fitting the "scientist" stereotype- you know, nerdy glasses, classical music, pocket protectors need I go on?
People around here seemed surprise that I caught on quick, worked hard, and even published fairly soon. Yet, and I may completely be off base and just paranoid, there sometimes seems to be that underlying current of because of who I am, what type of music I listen too, the clothes I wear (jeans and T-shirts, day in, day out) my science isn't quite up to par. My results (not by my boss or collaborators so much--and really those are the few opinions that really matter) are always suspect, always questioned by them. Which is good, since it teaches me to explain why I am right without totally loosing my junk.
I was told that I have a "strong personality" today. I don't know if that was meant as a compliment or not, but I guess I'll take it.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Mr. DrZeek is at work right now, and I know if I go home no one will be around. I can decompress (and clean since we are having people stay with us this weekend)-but I feel guilty for not being in lab today. Which is funny, since I work on the weekends and seem to almost always be in the lab. I know, for the most part I am working hard and getting things done, but I just can't today. And how do I explain to Mr. DrZeek when he comes home and sees me there (granted, I am salary and will make up the hours and shit) that I couldn't hack it today, that I needed a mental health day?
I just don't want to be here right now. It has nothing to do with the nice weather or shit like that since if I head back to the apartment I will be cleaning and holed up in there, but I just...fuck. What the hell is wrong with me? Maybe I am just burning out a bit. I don't know.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Then I realize that that yeah, I made it through grad school, but now I have to make it through the post-doc (much much much more enjoyable for several reasons), then make it through the job hunt, then make it through tenure or promotions or whatever the hell else I plan on doing. Right now, though everything is wide open.
But when is it done? When can you finally sit back, sigh, and say "I have arrived"? Is there one culminating moment that defines the hours at the bench, the days in the library, the years tapping away at the keyboard searching and hunting for that one elusive idea, the one hair-brained experiment, the onepiece of data that not only finishes the story but tells it far better than anyone else has? When, as the average scientist who loves toiling away at the bench, who does basic research on, some would say, not so hot and sexy systems, but who slowly lays the foundation for others to jump off and run with the newest buzz-word laden research, can I say I have finally arrived?
Not yet and maybe not ever for me, because in my humble opinion, thinking I have arrived means that I have reached my ultimate potential- and I don't want to think about that. I want to think that I can keep getting better, keep learning, keep growing as a scientist and researcher. I can never fully understand everything, but I think that I am going to damn-well try.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The last month in the lab has sucked the life out of me. For the past three weeks we have been dealing with two evacuations due to suspected gas leaks (no, they still don't know where its coming from), a three hour power outage (thank god the -80 came back up OK), the IR-MS going down (but is back up again), a lab flood, no air conditioning for a week (mind you- it was 95 degrees outside and 82 degrees in the lab-lord have mercy it was hot), a -20 going down, and for some reasons, three preps of my favorite protein crapped out over night (flocky, fluffy protein== bad bad thing and angry Dr. Zeek).
I finally ran some experiments today and they seemed to work (YAY), the -20 is still chugging along, the IR-MS is now giving reproducible results, the laptop came in and it seems that the humidity has finally moved on from here. Maybe today will be the turning point and I can just chalk May and June up to bad chemistry mojo.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Galley proofs came in for the paper (did I mention it was accepted with minor revisions...minor as in add two references and a sentence or two)...my first first-author paper (ever) and first paper in new post-doc lab
Fellowship app package arrived safely (or so Fed-Ex says) so now we wait
Offer in on the house we are selling- we accepted and now waiting for the official close date (much more blog ranting fodder on this, but not now)
Preps of MFP and mutated MFP are going but draining...
That's all I have the energy for right now. Things are crazy nuts, but god it feels good to be shaking it up again in the lab. Post more later...
Friday, March 20, 2009
EDIT: oh yeah, went with the hubby to the dentist this morning (woke up at 6:30--got back home at 8:00 and promptly crawled back into bed till noon-anyways, I digress)-they yanked his tooth. Poor babes. At least they gave him some of the "good stuff," too bad he couldn't take off of work (too many deliveries today).
Thursday, March 19, 2009
*Not that I didn't/don't always need more of MFP- probably won't touch it for a few weeks, though....
Friday, March 6, 2009
Now just waiting for the reviews.
The fact that it is my first first-author paper (my PI in grad school would always put himself as first author) is awesome. The fact that my name is followed by 5 PI's (for a total of 5 universities, none of them within 90 miles of each other- in fact three of them are on different continents) makes me laugh in a sad sort of way.
So, what's on tap for the next 6 months??
Paper 1: submitted
Paper 2: chemicals on back order for very important experiments (VIE), but writing everything else --two months ETA till first round of back and forth corrections
Fellowship Resubmit: due in 20-some odd days. I have opened a word.doc file and named it fellowhipresub.doc, but that is about as far as I am right now
Paper 3: bugs are grown and in the freezer, need to go on a purification spree- ETA of data to send around- 4-5 months (if I put this on the back burner to finish paper 2).
I need to get back to the bench today, if for no other reason than to save my sanity....
Friday, February 27, 2009
There is some more blog-fodder from our conversation (and some "disturbing" things/attitudes that may cause me to become more ruthless)-but I will chalk most of it up to both of us having put to end what was a very long week in our respective labs.
The conversation is still hanging around in my brain, a distinct tickle in the back of my mind- sorry for the cryptic-ness- I still need to figure this out in my head first and then find out if what was said is really how things are going to be. If that is the case, I am going to have to strap-it on and become ruthless.
back to corrections....
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Seriously, though....suggestions for any snarky email messages are appreciated...
Since the PI is going to be out of town Friday-Sunday, there is no way I can send things off to land-far-away before Monday (Big boss man wants to see it one more time with all the corrections). Shit shit shit shit. Every time I open my email, I get pissed.......
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The corrections are (ready for this one) coming in the mail since he wrote them on a copy of the manuscript and figured he would drop them in an actual envelope and put them in the mail-so we are looking at three days once he puts them in the box). Seriously?
I am stewing a bit right now. Just a bit. I know he is busy, I know he has a lot going on, but creepers so do I. It would have been nice to have this paper submitted and maybe (fingers crossed) accepted before my fellowship app is due, but now, there is no way in hell.
Grrr....what do I do?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I heart Theory of a Deadman...
And, I even heart Motley Crue...
Mr DrZeek and I went to the see the mentioned bands on the Saints of Los Angeles tour. (OK, starting to loose a little anonymity here, but whatever). Anyways, bands were awesome, although Vince Neil was grating my on my eardrums a tad. They must have to do some serious editing to get him to sound alright on the albums, because live he misses words and is way to nasally (whiny-I don't know, couldn't understand him on a lot of songs)....But the band...oh, the band sounded amazing.
And, a side note, I loved Hinder before, but had never seen the chance to see them live. Be still my heart, they are amazing, they rock hard, and sound like they do on the albums (not like a lot of bands who can't play for shit live). All-in-all, an amazing show.
We left during the encore of "Home sweet home". Walking out of the venue, you could still here the bass. It was so loud that it was making the roof of the venue rattle. Coolest. Thing. Ever. (Besides hot science that is). I must go home now, my voice is shot, my ears are still ringing, and maybe if I can go take a nap I can have some hot dreams about the lead singer from Theroy..ermm, I mean of Mr. DrZeek.
Friday, February 13, 2009
I am on cloud 9 (and 10 and even 11). Big boss man looked at the paper last night and I was expecting to get roasted this morning.
My old advisor had drilled it into my head that I had no idea how to write a decent sentence, let alone a manuscript (which is funny since he was a non-native English speaker and I used to correct his grammar, etc. and even more funny that I am blogging now- but I notice that I write the way I think- way confused and all over the board sometimes... Any way, I digress....)
Needless to say I was slightly concerned when I handed off the manuscript. I thought this is it, he is going to realize that I have no clue and wonder how many days there are left on my contract so he can get rid of me (can we say impostor syndrome anyone?)
So, I walked into the lab library (and for some reason the Darth Vader music was playing in my head) with my coffee and settled down with big boss man this morning, figuring this was it.
Turns out he thought the paper was extremely well-written. In looking at the comments, there are a few sentences that need to be completely rewritten and one figure to "fix", but other than that he was extremely excited and I think somewhat impressed. And I feel a little bit better, until I give him the next manuscript for editing....
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Which brings me to my current rant. Authorship woes. I previously (in grad reasearch lab)have gone through the frustration of doing all the research, writing the manuscript, making the figures yadda-yadda-yadda only to be put as second author on the paper. Wha-what? You might say? Well my graduate advisor was under the impression that his name should be first author, followed by mine. Not only was it a point of contention with me, but I also got nailed to the wall a bit in a recent fellowship proposal for not having any first author papers.
So, arriving in new post-doc lab I learned that my new, highly established highly respective PI actually allows his lowly minions to *gasp* be first authors! I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled. Ecstatic!
Until I realized the little game of "politics" between us and the "collaborators" in the land far away. Let's give a little background, shall we? Coming into new post-doc lab, I was put on a project that no one in our lab was working on. Its mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Let's just say that the project is determining how apples grow (for the sake of anonymity). We (the PI and I, so really I) were working with another post-doc in another lab (in our department) who would take pictures of the apples. I would be responsible for figuring out how the apples grew, what affected the growth, and so on. The post-doc trained me in apple-growing techniques (since when I started in the new lab I didn't know my apples from a hole-in-the-wall) and gently prodded me in gaining a "voice" in the lab.
I am sorely indebted to said post-doc, who ironically accepted a faculty position at the university I did my graduate work at (isn't it ironic- dontcha think?). He took the apple picture project with him (since we needed someone who could take apple pictures) and he and I have been working closely on discussion and data-interpretation.
So, post-doc turned faculty member is awesome. Freakin awesome. But there is another darker side to the story. When I came into the lab, the apple project was funded by my PI's large NIH grant which needed to be written for renewal. This grant also names two other co-PI's (both in land far away). One is a friend, one is a former post-doc.
They have done much work on the other parts of teh apple project, but the post-doc/faculty member's ground-breaking apple pictures (which was published last summer in a one-word journal) have and will really drive the project forward for this next grant period. From these apple pictures, my part of the project really took off/will take off/is taking off.
Last summer, collaborator's from land-far away came to visit myself, my PI, and post-doc/faculty member to discuss the plans for the next grant period, who will do what, and essentially outline the next grant proposal (again, my PI is the "named" PI, the others-including new faculty member former post-doc were named as a co PI). I get to do everything that I wanted to do in the next grant period and even was able to proposed a new way to look at apples, something my PI has never done before.
I am not going to lie, the new faculty member and I wrote/rewrote the grant, formatted the "outlines" from everyone else, put things together...OK, so we did everything for this grant (and I AM NOT complaining- it was a great experience, it was funded, and I am now guaranteed a job for a little bit).
So, let's fast forward a bit. It was agreed upon that I would be responsible for looking at different colored apples and figure out how they grew. The collaborators in land far way would look at how the leaves grew on the apple trees (something related, but not overlapping). I have been working on it non-stop and have enough data for two or three papers. I have spent hours growing and harvesting the apples, purifying them, figuring out the crazy intricacies, coming up with new experiments, etc. My PI is happy, the new faculty member is happy, I am thrilled. The data looks awesome and the story is HOT!
Now, here comes the problem. Our "collaborator's" sent us an apple seed a long time ago. Put it in an envelope, stamped it, and sent it over seas (and in all honesty, this is exactly what they did). we have been propagating that seed, changing it, growing more seeds, etc. The original seed has long been trashed. The new data that I have generated has been sent to them, not for approval but to say "Hey, this is cool- since we are all working on different parts of the same project- take a look." Collaborator's from the land far-away generally look at the data, make a few comments, and then remind me that I should be referencing papers A, B, and C (funny, they are authors on papers A, B, and C) . Generally they don't contribute much to the conversation.
So, here is the kicker. A month ago, PI asked me who I wanted on the paper. We both agreed at the time that collaborator's from overseas could be left off the paper and put in the acknowledgements. I decided (my manuscript, my decision, right??hahaha) that I was first author, the post-doc new faculty member would be second (two fold- he trained me, helped me grow the apples and really has been a fantastic source for my first few years- a gift, maybe? but on this first paper I don't mind) and my PI last.
Well, PI looked at the first page today and said "At some point we need to decide authorship" and politically we may have to put collaborator's from land far away and his post-doc (who is not even there anymore) that first harvested the apple seed on there (so- # of authors goes from 3 to 7--no, i shit you not. 3 to 7...). Essentially, we left the conversation with me biting my tongue (literally it still hurts) when he says yup, because of the politics they all need to be on there. ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME?????
I called new faculty member who flipped. Couldn't believe it, had something along the same thing happen when writing the paper for the one-name journal, ad in general wants to know when this craziness will stop. He is refusing to put far-away collaborator's on his upcoming papers and thinks putting them on because of politics is absolutely ridiculous.
So here it is. I am pissed. My boss is the big huge name on the grant. The others are co-PIs. There is no way in hell that my name will ever be on their papers. (my PI's, maybe, but not mine). These other guys, with the exception of new faculty member, are established (and have even kicked around the idea about retiring in the next few years), so why in the FUCK do I need to put them on my paper. They have not contributed anything (except for making me feel like a "print/copy girl" or coffee girl when hey were here on their last trip) to this manuscript. I AM LIVID. Politics? Bullshit....seriously, bullshit.
EDIT: I need to check into the policies for the journal to see what type of "author contribution" letter/paragraph I can write. It is not commonly done (as in I have never ever seen it in an article in this journal before) but maybe that will be a way around all the bullshit....
Friday, February 6, 2009
Every time the commercials came on, we cursed the TV until, that is, we found out that they were opening a restaurant in post-doc city about 5 minutes from our house. Since Mr DrZeek took off today, we hopped in the car and drove over there. After 20 min, yes I said 20 min in the drive thru- we got up in line and ordered. Thinking that the huge amount of people was due to the "Grand Opening" the hubby commented on how it was a beautiful day to finally open. The kid just laughed and said, "no, the Grand Opening was Monday. There was a three-hour wait..."
Are you freakin' kidding me? Three hours for a burger and fries? I was getting annoyed after 10 min. Three hours?
OK, so the burger and fries were awesome, I admit. But three freakin' hours? Uh-hu, no way. People are insane...
Anyways, popped into PI's office, he looked surprised to see me. And made the comment of all comments that is going to leave me riding high for the next few weeks- "here I thought you were going to be flat on your back for the next few weeks. I don't know what we would have done without you-you are indispensable..." No, really, I was not in a drug-induced haze, he really said I was indispensable, he was glad to see me up and around, and that I need to take care of myself and get better. So basically, what the hell are you doing in lab. Go home. See you Monday.
So, I am going to head out of lab soon. Take home a bunch of papers to finish my manuscript (which I promised big boss man on Monday) and work from there. But indispensable--I still have the warm fuzzies from that.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Anyways, about 2:00 in the afternoon, right before my minions come in, the nurse from the clinic calls me. It seems that the radiologist saw something the Dr didn't on my chest X-ray, my bronchitis isn't bronchitis. I have pneumonia in my upper lobe of the left lung. Freakin fantastic! The nurse proceeded to tell me that I could possibly be contagious until 24 hrs after my first does of antibiotics. *sigh* great.
Seriously though, one dose of antibiotics and super-awesome cough medicine later- I could sleep. Granted, I was exhausted from coughing and not sleeping since Thursday, but holy shit- if they just would have given me this shit a day earlier... anyways, I slept for something like 12 hrs after getting home yesterday and took today off from the lab. Maybe I can kick this shit in the next day or so and be up and running by the end of this week...thank god for modern medicine.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
So now what. Its 20 to 6, the Superbowl is on, and right now my eyes feel like they are encased in plaster. So here is the question, do I try to work, or do I give into the sleep that I have been sorely lacking the past few days..
Never mind, the couch looks too comfortable. Maybe I will split the difference- take a two hour nap and work late tonight.....
Saturday, January 31, 2009
A plague has hit the lab, and for once it is not our bacterial growths that are infected, it is the humans in the lab. The two research scientists have a cold (one "called" in on Friday- something he never ever has done since I have been there). Our building manager has been hacking up a lung for a week now, and yesterday I realized that no, the funny taste in my mouth after I coughed was not normal (nor was it from smoking). The grad students in our lab are staying as far away as possible.
I was sick right after Christmas- two days under a blanket on the couch, stuffy nose (I looked like Rudolph for weeks), and just feeling like crap. And now this, almost exactly one month later. Not so much the stuffy nose, but the coughing hack where I sound like I am trying to expel the deepest darkest part of my lungs out my mouth. All that coughing is not good for the head, dear children, nor the voice. No, no no. So now, I sit here, staring at data and a teaching statement that I promised I would look at this weekend, alternating between hot tea and cold orange juice, counting down the hours till I can take more cold medicine and smelling like I bathed with mentholated shampoo--trying to convince myself that if I pack it in early tonight, I will wake up tomorrow morning bright and early and get everything done.
The only bright spot of being sick...Monday is my official "quit smoking date." On a normal Saturday, I would have most likely smoked about a pack by now (give or take depending on the day). I have had 1 and 1/2 smokes today. That's it. And I don't even want one. Maybe being sick is a blessing...and I do have the last three episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" DVR'ed which I need to watch. But maybe not in a cold-medicine induced haze.
Friday, January 30, 2009
I understand that independence is one of the hallmark's of a good post-doc, but where do you draw the line between being independent and being to stubborn (or unwilling) to get/give some help. I don't want to have the data analyzed for me (sorry, this is the part I love), but what I do want is five minutes (OK, maybe ten minutes) of someones time to bounce ideas off of, to find out if doing a, b, or c is worth the time or effort or if I am just chasing my tail.
Yes, I could go to my PI (who is a great scientific mind, amazingly knowledgeable in the field in general, and just a nice guy to go talk to when you are stuck) but he is somewhat "removed" from the specifics of the project, the recent literature, etc. The vibe I have been getting from him in our past few meetings has been one of "I've seen the individual parts before, now I want to see it all together..." and is waiting patiently (emphasis on patiently since he really has been) for the big huge pile of data.
What I want from my co-author (OK, he trained me on everything involved in the protein prep, mutations, etc.--stuff that I had no clue as to how to do, made the first batch of protein with me so I could learn, etc. and is a co-PI on the grant we just wrote) is just five minutes, that's all. Is it too much to ask? I know is busy starting up a lab and getting into the new "faculty role" and having grad students in his lab, but things here are not that easy either...five minutes, that's all I need. I wouldn't be complaining/whining/whatever if he also responded to emails on time, showed up to pick up various things (ie cultures, stocks, reagents that I have prepped for him since I have the functioning lab right now) on time, and just in general be around when I need a quick pick-me-up (like I have been around for him). He asks me to do something (or I generally offer) and I am johnny-on-the-spot.
Ok, enough with the whining and the poor-me. I can figure this stuff out! I have the books, I have the papers, I CAN DO THIS AND I DON'T NEED ANYONE ELSE...ok, I feel better. Let's see if I still feel better when he shows up in a bit to pick up a stock of reagents...
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Neuroticism (sometimes also called Emotional Instability) is the tendency to experience negative emotions such as sadness or anxiety. People who score high on neuroticism are vulnerable to stress and tend to experience negative feelings more often. People who score low in neuroticism tend to be less susceptible to stress, and experience negative feelings relatively infrequently.
You scored 37 out of 50. This score is higher than 87.4% of people who have taken this test.
Hmmm- MrDr Zeek already knew this....
Extraversion (or Extroversion) is the tendency to experience positive emotions and seek out stimulating situations. People who score high on extraversion tend to be active, energetic, and enjoy being around other people. In contrast, people who score low on extraversion, known as introverts, tend to be quiet, low-key, and are typically less involved in the social world.
You scored 24 out of 50. This score is higher than 17.3% of people who have taken this test.
Openness to experience
Openness to experience is a general tendency to appreciate emotion, adventure, and unusual ideas or experiences. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, appreciative of art, and sensitive to beauty. People with low scores on openness tend to have more conventional, traditional interests.
You scored 33 out of 50. This score is higher than 13.1% of people who have taken this test.
Conscientiousness is the tendency to show self-discipline and persistence. People who score high on conscientiousness tend to be persistent, responsible, and duty-driven, but are sometimes perceived as being overly perfectionistic and concerned with order. Individuals low on conscientiousness tend to show less persistence and may have trouble seeing things through.
You scored 41 out of 50. This score is higher than 82.5% of people who have taken this test.
Agreeableness is the tendency to be sympathetic and cooperative towards others. People who score high on agreeableness strive for social harmony and value getting along with others. Disagreeable people tend to be more suspicious and hostile towards others.
You scored 40 out of 50. This score is higher than 72.0% of people who have taken this test.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Anyways, I have to finish writing two manuscripts (including the derivation of the kinetic equations, data fitting, etc.) and try convince my boss to let me split it into three papers. Rewrite and reapply for the NIH fellowship (compltely redoing the research plan). Preferably in that order (as in best case scenario would be having the papers in press when I reapply for the fellowship), train my two new undergrad minions (this is a teaching univeristy for god sakes, but two of them? with almost completely opposite schedules so I can't have them here at the same time, and both of them so green that neither knows the difference between a disposable pipette and a pipetteman?) Oh yeah, and with the somewhat new grad student moving to a different lab in the other departmental building, I can move to his lab (just down the hall) and have my own lab (yup, we have that much space), but I have to clean out the 30 years of crap that has accumulated in the lab that the grad student just worked around.
All of this before April 8th (the deadline for the fellowship)?
Oh, and yeah, to add a little more fuel to the fire, MrDr Zeek's doctor told us yesterday, after looking at the CAT scan images (which, I might add was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen-the doctor even let me "play" with the images, scrolling through cross-sections, etc. It was the highlight of my day--I am such a nerd-and I digress) that his top spinal fusion is somewhat taking, but the bottom one isn't. We have three choices. (a) he quits smoking (which means I quit smoking since (a.1) it is bad for me and (a.2)I would never inflict that type of torture on him. if he has to quit-I have to quit) (b) they implant electrodes into the fusion area to stimulate boone growth ( can I just say (b.1) ewwwww) or (c) they go back in and redo the fusions which means pulling out the rods in screws in his back already, replacing them and the "fusion" cages, etc. (this means (c.1.) 3-6 months recovery time (c.2.) a repeat of what he/we went through about two years ago--it was bad, and fodder for a blog post one of these days and (c.3) hell no!). So, MrDrZeek (who has been smoking for >20 years) got into the car, looked at me, and asked "When are we going to quit?" My heart lept! YAY! Not that I truly want to go through the hell that is quitting smoking (I quit for four months last year, MrDr Zeek didn't, I am now smoking again) but I am happy that he is on board for quitting.
And the continuing weight loss battle. I am trying to loose weight, be more fit, more tones, and its starting to pay off. I am eating healthier, working out (I heart turbo jam) everyday, and yeah. But still.
So there it is boys and girls. Dr Zeek is tired. Worn out, feeling a tad overwhelmed and having no idea how to begin tackling this all. Small chunks.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Bacteria will grow in highly concentrated LB media (enough media for 20 L growths dissolved in 5 L of water) if left in the warm room overnight thereby pushing your start time ahead three hours while you remake, autoclave, and cool said media.
A frustrated me
Dear growth of e. coli containing really important mutant plasmid,
I have grown you (and your little buddies) multiple times. I am good to you. I feed you, I keep you warm, i put you in a big giant carboy so you can swim around with your buddies. I don't even have you make my protein (which I know you don't like all that much) until after you have partied it up and such. Why then are you giving me so much hassle? I really need you to work right now. Now.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Anyways, I had this conversation outside the other day while having (GASP!) a smoke. One of the IT undergrads came up to ask me if he could bum a cig, which I obliged. There is a little "unspoken" smoker's etiquette that if you are not on your phone, or walking away, you awkwardly try to start a conversation with the person you just bummed a smoke from.
UG: So, you work here? (points to old building I am leaning against- mind you there are multiple "departments" in the building-the 3rd-5th floors have functioning labs)
Dr. Zeek: Yup, I work in the labs on the third floor.
UG: Oh, I've been up there a few times. How many credits are you taking this semester?
Dr. Zeek: (huh? whaaa?)Credits? Oh, no I went to (insert name of small liberal arts college here. I am a ....
UG: (cutting me off mid-sentence) Oh, so you just started grad school...I heard its pretty rough here.
Dr. Zeek: (trying to get a word in edgewise) No, No, finished grad school last year...
UG: (again cutting me off)
Dr. Zeek (now I am getting a tad frustrated...)
UG: (stares at me, stares at the ground, stares at me again...extremely uncomfortable at this point)
Obviously he was a tad uncomfortable after he realized that I was a Dr. just like his professors that held the fate of his GPA in their hands. Its weird, because that's one of the reasons (esp when out at the bar's and stuff with MrDrZeek and his friends) that I keep it on the down-low that I have my PhD. Its not that I am ashamed of it, its just that sometimes it seems to make people really uncomfortable, esp when they find out I have a PhD in Chemistry. The normal response "Ohhhh, you must be really smart..." And I have to laugh, "Nope," I usually respond, "I just pretend."
Thursday, January 8, 2009
So I started writing it up, saw a few holes in the story, did the experiments to fill in those gaps, and found a whole slew of new questions. It seems with every experiment, there are a million new questions that come up (which trust me, I thoroughly enjoy, esp trying to put it all together), but when is it enough? I think I have convinced him that we are better off with two manuscripts now, instead of one (YAY me--first author on both!!), but there doesn't seem to be a good ending point, if that makes sense.
So, I suppose I should go back to adding in the new results, fixing the graphs, and writing the discussion for the part that I am pretty sure is not going to change. And, now that I write that I have jinxed myself. But that is OK, its good to be back on a normal schedule, back in a routine, back in the lab getting my hands dirty and puzzling over all this data.