[FUN] Dumbest lab experience? What about waste of bandwith!

Michael L. Sullivan mlsulliv at facstaff.wisc.edu
Wed Dec 27 10:42:04 EST 2000

>And then there are those who don't think, don't ask their labmates...

I've had 2 undergraduates who were at the extremes.  One was a young woman
who was very smart and very enthusiasitic.  Unfortuantely, she didn't
always ask for help and advice when she needed it.  One day, for the
project she was doing she was going to prepare RNA from some transgenic
plant tissue I had made.  It probably took about 5 weeks to generate the
tissue.  I was busy doing something else when she came in that day.  I told
her I would be about 15 minutes, and then I would help her with the RNA
protocol, which she hadn't carried out on her own before.   Well, when I
finished what I was doing, I went to start the RNA protocol with the
student.  To my horror she had started on her own, ground up the frozen
tissue samples but allowed them to thaw!  Oh well, she did learn an
important lesson that day!  Actually, she is very talented and has gone on
to a very good lab with a Hughes Fellowship.

A few years later, I had another student who was so terrified of making a
mistake, he would barely make a move without consulting me.  This guy made
it easy for me to decide that the independent ones who occassionally make a
mistake are far better to have than the ones who ask TOO much.  Probably
the stupidest question this guy asked me was after I suggested he go to the
store room to get something, and that since it was after hours he'd need
the key, he came back to me with a key  maked "store room" from the key
drawer and asked me "Is this the store room key?".  Granted, this was not
such a big deal in and of itself, but he was constantly asking questions
that 1) I had already answered, 2) had rather obvious answers and/or 3)
could easily be figured out with a millisecond of though.  I'm almost
surprised he didn't ask me before going to the bathroom!  He was honestly
more work for me than I ever got in return.  The good news is that he got
out of research science.  The bad news is that he is now in medical school.
I think my worst fear is to wake up in the ER and hear... "This is Dr.
________, he'll be treating you today!"



More information about the Methods mailing list