Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Place in the lab...

I realized today that after being in post-doc lab for almost two years, that I have found my place in the hierarchy of lab personalities. Granted, the sample size of personalities is small with n=7 if you count the people in the lab upstairs and the soon-to-be leaving--note: leaving, not graduating-- grad student. (More on that place a different day- I need to digest this a tad more)

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


Not that its all that important, but after coming home from a day of hell in the lab I find out that...wait for it...the new season of "Hell's Kitchen" starts tonight.
I heart mindless TV.
I heart Chef Ramsey.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

metal status...

Taking the weekend off (and Friday) has done wonders for my mental health. Although, tonight I am slogging through the rough draft of the intro chapter of someone's thesis. After this long in the lab, how can you not know what a "technique" is?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I have no right to bitch and moan. I have a great job, love what I do (although my lab mates-eh not so much) and research is going well. But today I just can't shake that feeling of being bummed out. Beyond bummed out. I have no ambition to do anything here in the lab but I need to get my ass in gear. I have so much to do right now its just paralyzing me. Coupled with the shit storm going on around me (lots of little things that are just adding up to several big messes) I just don't want to do it right now.

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

Three weeks in the lab...

will save you three hours in the library.


My brain hurts.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

pyMOL can bite my...

Figure 1. My favorite protein's active site

No more pyMOL for me. I have now been converted to the wonders and joys of using VMD. Not only is it free but the user-friendlyness of this program is astounding. It, to my knowledge, has the same sort of capabilities as pyMOL (i.e. alignments, distance determination, etc.) and can still be used with python (if you are so inclined).

If you are like me and are not a hardcore crystallographer but still want to be able to quickly generate awesome looking structure figures from pdb files or just want to see the relative positioning of residues in protein active sites, then VMD is amazing...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I have arrived?

Its quite out here. I am sitting on my screen porch, the only light is from the glowing laptop screen. The hubby is in bed and the kitty has resumed her post as the guard of the night on the beat-up file cabinet placed next to the windows. It, I think, has finally hit that I "made it." That I got through all the bullshit from grad school, that I somehow survived and came out stronger, tougher and smarter- OK, maybe not smarter, but you know what I mean.

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.