Back to the bench!

Sep 28 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

I'm taking on something new. Well, something new to me. It's been a while since I burned a lot of money and it's making me itchy, so I'm charging ahead with a project that I have been meaning to take on for a while. But, I want to do the bench work myself (gasp!). This work dooesn't really fit under what any of my students are currently working on and it's something I have wanted to learn for a bit. I've done the reading and looked through the protocols. Hell, I even ordered the supplies today.

Those of you who have not yet taken on the mantle of being a PI are probably reading this and saying "so what?" But the dirty little secret of academia is that all of your bench work skillz eventually land you a desk job. How often is your PI in the lab? Yes, yes, yes, it's all what you make of it and many look forward to steering the ship rather than manning an oar, but that doesn't mean I don't want to stay on top of the bench work. I miss getting away from my computer and phone to spend time in the lab. I could easily delegate the project and continue doing the mountain of writing and assorted paperwork I have sitting beside me. In fact, I probably should, but damnit, I want to do this work. Since moving into our new building in March I have done almost no bench work, save for a smattering of training here and there. It's time I rolled up the sleeves and donned some gloves.

We still have gloves my size, right?

7 responses so far

  • PhysioProf says:

    If I started dicking around at the bench, I think my lab would mutiny.

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    I agree with CPP, just conceptualize at your desk. Maybe problem solve at the bench if we hit some speedbumps but otherwise stay out of the lab. It weirds us out. And if you do come in the lab at least have the decency to pick the cobwebs off or shake the dust off your lab coat. Hell some PI's don't have lab coats anymore except for stock photos. They either lost theirs or burnt them when they were done working at the bench.

  • Candid Engineer says:

    Those of you who have not yet taken on the mantle of being a PI are probably reading this and saying "so what?" Not so much. My first thought was, Jesus Christ, everyone take cover. Go for it, dude, but it's entirely out of place. When I was a 5th year grad student, my advisor (who had been a PI for 7 years at that point) wanted to come in and help me with a consulting project. He had been in the lab for all of about 5 minutes before he knocked a beaker onto the floor and snagged himself on a pasteur pipet. I remorselessly told him to go back to his office.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Whoa whoa whoa people, I've been away from the bench for maybe 6 months. I'm not going to walk in there and wander around disoriented telling people that in my day we had to make our own gloves and restriction enzymes cost a nickel! I haven't been in the lab a lot since we moved, but I didn't purge lab protocols from my head. My longest-tenured grad student has only been in the lab a year, meaning I still poop things with more experience than these pups. Talk to me again in 5 years.

  • Odyssey says:

    A new PI should still be at the bench for a year or two. Early on the PI will be the main driver in the lab. It's only when you've established a fairly self-sufficient group* that you can step away. In academia that usually also coincides with increased responsibilities outside the lab, so the transition is generally natural.When you hit mid-level like me your lab personnel really don't want you at the bench anymore. Like CPP said, they'd likely mutiny.* If you don't manage to generate one of these you're screwed.

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    If you haven't been gone from the bench that long then its acceptable to go back.

  • Comrade PhysioProf says:

    * If you don't manage to generate one of these you're screwed.Ain't that the motherfucking truth!

Leave a Reply