[FUN] Dumbest lab experience?

tfitzwater at gilead.com tfitzwater at gilead.com
Fri Dec 15 12:30:32 EST 2000

On Thu, 14 Dec 2000, Bonehammer wrote:
> Any more contributions?

1.  A graduate student told me that he was running his first ethidium
bromide/cesium chloride gradient to purify some plasmid DNA.  Knowing that
I had better ask, but not wanting to know the answer, I had him describe
the method he used.  He set up the gradients in the rotor -- without using
tubes.  I've always wondered how he expected to harvest the band.

2.  The same graduate student:  one day I walked into the lab and noticed a
magnetic stirrer set up to spin a suspension cell culture.  To keep the
cells cool, he set the magnetic stirrer in a dishpan and completely
submerged it.  When asked about his knowledge of electricity, he said, "but
I did it before!"

3.  Another graduate student transferred from another lab after his 2nd
year.  Near the end of his 3rd year, things were still not going well with
his experiment.  I sat down with him and had him trace out his protocol
step by step.  The problem was his ethanol precipitation protocol.  He
didn't mix the tubes before chilling them.  He thought you were supposed to
get an ice pellet in the tube before you microfuged them.  His response:
"but water and ethanol are miscible!"

Tim Fitzwater
Gilead Sciences


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