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Crusades for saving Grant Money?

Diane Carlisle carlisle at gwis2.circ.gwu.edu
Wed Jun 18 09:17:04 EST 1997

taguebw at wfu.edu wrote:
: In article <33A6E4BA.41C6 at jhuvms.hcf.jhu.edu>, pjschlax at JHUVMS.HCF.JHU.EDU
: ("Dr. Paula J. Schlax") wrote:

: > Well, I saw another essential lab product today. (Please hear the
: > sarcasm!) Little plastic containers of 50 ml 1% agarose in TAE- just
: > heat and pour.\
: > 
: > Why why why do we keep making markets for these products!!!!!! Is it so
: > hard to weigh out half a gram of agarose?
: >

: Reminds me of the following: In graduate school, I did my required lab
: rotations in a a few different labs. One was very high powered, lots of
: grant money, hugh post-doc factory. In that lab they used sterile 50 ml
: orange capped corning tubes as disposable graduated cylinders, even when
: the real cylinders were near by. Use them once and toss.

: The next lab I went to was always underfunded. They *only* used sterile
: tubes when sterility was necessary and then *washed* the disposable tubes
: and used them over and over until they were too warped to get the cap on. 

: I don't think the quality of the work was different between the two labs
: but I'll bet the second one got more bang for the buck.

: I got my degree in the second lab. Makes me happy now 'cause now I've got
: to make my money go as far as I can.

: But it always made me think that the economy of scale doesn't work in
: laboratory science. Every well- (overly?-) funded lab I'm familiar with
: *wasted* enough money to run the good underfunded labs I know.

: Now if we could only get the federal granting agencies to skim 10% of the
: grant money off the top 10% of the labs. Then the remaining 90% of the
: labs in the country would probably have enough money to do some good
: science.

Probably true, unfortunately.  I'm a graduate student in a funded, but
not excessive lab - especially since we recently went through an unfunded
period and are still in "can we afford this" mode.  

I occasionally get frustrated talking to other graduate students in labs
with lots of money.  I know one student that in order to get finished with
her project faster, and get her degree, sends much of her work out to be
done, and just puts results together.  If she needs a Northern, she takes
the RNA, buys the probes, and sends it off.  Same if she needs a Western,
etc.  I know that I'm learning more than she is, and (hopefully) this will
show later when we're applying for post-docs and beyond.  But it is
frustrating now to know that she'll be finishing and have her degree long
before I will, because I'm actually weighing that agarose myself (to
refer back to the original post).  

Really though, this seems to me to indicate big problem with graduate
education, as well as how grants are awarded.  


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