Give me wood!

When I think back to January, when I was having my yearly mental breakdown about work and things not working, I wish I had access to today’s post.

Work is going so smoothly now. I can’t believe back then I thought I should quit. I really felt it too. I had nearly two months of things not working and me not being able to do things.

Now stuff is working (touch loads and loads of wood. Touch Noah’s ark. Touch the Amazon rainforest. Oh boy. Am I just tempting the Biology goddess to rain shit down upon me again?) and going well and I get to see lots of beautiful pictures of little white strips every day that look kind of like this:

and those pictures make me so happy and proud. I made that DNA. I designed the probes that searched for that DNA. I like DNA. I like the DNA sequences I get sent, all colourful and beautiful, with the G’s and the C’s and the T’s, and never forget the A’s, which always come
in green.

Why can’t life always be this simple?

A colleague of mine had an experiment failure that wasted a whole year of work. She admitted to me that she thought about quitting. Now she is a proper scientist, not like me. She is really good. But if you don’t get stuff published and you aren’t producing results then your future as a research scientist starts to look bleak. Add to that the fact that you can almost always only get contract jobs, and that many groups won’t hire women of child bearing age because of the short length of contracts and well… I would be thinking of quitting too. Thankfully she hasn’t.

Lucky for me I’m just a lab slave and not trying to build a research career here.

My boss asked me if I wanted to stay on at the end of my contract in December, so this must mean something is going all right with my work. Seeing as we plan to stay here another year I said yes, and am so relieved to have that job security for another year.

But I think I should seriously be thinking of finding a new line of work, because my future in this one is narrow and confined and growing more narrow the older I get.



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 08:56:34

    Yay! I’m so glad things are going well (woodwoodwoodwoodwood)! I thinkk a career in research is very inconsistent anad it’s quite scary. particularly if it involves travel. But sitting behind a desk doing something soul-destroying and boring would be even worse.

    I think the secret is just doing what you love and putting up with the bad parts.

    In other news I have a vuvuzela, and am attempting to send it off tomorrow or the next day!


  2. Po
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 09:45:26

    Helen: omg!!!! Excitement!!!!! I have dreams about vuvuzelas :)

    A job in research is terrifying, especially at the level you are at. I realised many years ago that it was not for me to go that route, especially looking for funding all the time, that would terrify me. It takes a certain type of person, say like the type who chases lizards in the bush…


  3. Kirsty
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 10:51:52

    Wow that’s beautifully clear! Yay for you! I tried some PCR and running gels once and it was a total disaster. Now even just talking about A,G,T and C makes me sweat.


  4. Po
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 13:11:23

    Kirsty: erm that DNA is not mine, I got that pic off wikipaedia! However in my pictures the DNA is much much fatter :)

    Don’t give up on PCR just cos it didn’t work once! You know how many times in my life my PCRs have failed?? Uncountable, sometimes because of me, sometimes because of witchcraft, who knows? Believe me you can do PCR, however if you ever need anyone to do it for you, I’m your girl :)


  5. prixie
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 18:33:08

    I am so glad things are going better. it helps a lot more when decisions are made! :) have fun discovering what else you can do – it can be ANYTHING! :)


  6. Po
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 20:03:10

    Prixie: anything?! Really? I dunno I always wanted to be an olympic gymnast but I think I’m a bit over the hill now :)


  7. Rox
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 08:38:16

    Totally hear you, had a very similar thing a few months ago – was at the point where I really didn’t think I could stick it out at all, was dreadfully unhappy and just gatvol… then things shifted around, and now back on track.

    So much out there, and I like to think it’s about the journey – Prixie is right, who knows what may be around the corner for our favourite mad scientist. ;-)


  8. Paula
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 11:04:45

    DNA looks like so much fun.
    well done on job security. And I’m sending you some cyber wood- just in case.


  9. Spear The Almighty
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 11:45:35

    I’m happy for you.


  10. Damaria Senne
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 12:15:31

    I remember the post, and am so glad that the experiments are working out and giving you the results you’re looking for. DNA is beautiful.

    As for other work, why not teaching? Or writing fiction set in the world of labs and DNA research?


  11. Po
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 21:33:52

    Rox: I hope whatever is around the corner is not a vampire zombie!!!! Thanks :)

    Paula: DNA is fun, mostly. When it behaves. And it does. It’s a very stable molecule, you can abuse it and throw it around and it survives. Not like its cousin RNA. Evil molecule.

    Spear: thanks man!

    Damaria: the only thing I am fit for really is teaching, but I really don’t think it’s a good idea. So many people have told me that if you don’t love teaching it can crush your soul, and I have two parents who are teachers, desperate to leave the profession but they are too old. I think teaching could crush me.

    As for writing, that would be a dream come true, but from what I understand, I shouldn’t quit the day job for the amount of money a novel makes, unless it’s a J.K Rowling phenomenon!


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