Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trainee-Level Fuckery of the Worst Kind…

I won’t claim that the subsequently mentioned fuckery is a degree of fuckery that every graduate student or postdoc is necessarily guilty of, but it’s one that I see frequently and it chaps my ass in a spectacular way.

I think that it is important to have undergraduates in the lab. It gives them an opportunity to experience *actual* science, as opposed to their canned laboratory activities, and it’s good for more senior trainee scientists (graduate students and postdocs) to have the experience of mentoring someone more junior. But, sometimes these more senior trainees can be real dicks about it.

It really irritates me when I hear one of these folks comment about not having the time/it being an inconvenience/ to mentor their assigned trainees, or mention that something would being easier if they did it themselves, or talk about how much their trainee doesn’t know, or refer to them as minions as thought they shouldn’t have training goals. Sometimes these more senior trainees get all Lord of the Flies in their shit and try to establish pecking orders where their status in the world is defined by their superiority to these younger students.  The incredible irony of it is that their expectations for how they should be treated are completely different. They expect their mentor to be available “for 5 minutes…real quick..now.” They expect their career trajectory to be nurtured and attended to and to receive an ever-loving amount of patience for the progress of “their work”.  At least here, I know that these students aren’t subjected to the kind of “use up and spit out” lab style that others talk about where success of the PI is predicated on burning through some grad students and postdocs without regard for their needs. So, I don’t know where it comes from.

That’s why when I see this little bit of insidiousness, the hammer must come down.

Science or Ciencia? Carolina’s Story

Isis the Scientist:

Cuando fui niña, mi abuelo limpió un hospital. Ahora tengo my propio laboratorio en un hospital similar..

Originally posted on ScienceSalsa:

carolinasstory

Carolina’s ears started feeling really hot. It wasn’t because of the temperature inside the laboratory, it was because of her embarrassment. To Carolina’s classmates she was Carol, they had no idea that she spoke Spanish, or that her grandmother barely spoke English.

Abuela Rita wasn’t the source of the embarrassment. Carolina was proud of her grandmother, a single mother that raised a family by herself with a custodial job. But when her grandmother spoke in Spanish during the high-school field trip to the University and called her by her full name, Carolina felt as if her grandmother had left her naked in front of her classmates.

Carolina wanted to tell all the other students that she was very proud of her grandmother. Abuela Rita was the reason she got interested in science in the first place. Rita told Carolina many bedtime stories when she was a little girl…

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Tuesday Addendums

I rule.

That is all.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch..

It sounds silly to say that I have a “life philosophy”, but sounding silly has never stopped me in the past.

I didn’t really discover public radio until after I graduated from college. I was living in New England, commuting an hour to work each day, and found Maine Public Radio on the lower end of the dial. I’d listen to Morning Edition each day and then sit in the car to hear The Writer’s Almanac. I liked that Garrison Keillor ended each day’s program with

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

It seems like such perfect, simple advice. Care for your inner and outer well-being, take pride in your work, and make sure that those that you love know their value to you.

I’ve got some great people that I am collaborating with now, but Friday’s experiments were a damned fiasco. I don’t quite know how it was catalyzed, but people were rushed and tired and everything unraveled.  I’ve been fussy about it since because I know that my major role in this project is to provide scientific experience and mentorship and I did not more aggressively tell people to slow-the-fuck-down.  There’s a part of me that has been dreading returning to it today…

…until I got some reviews this morning from some work that I did previous that had been in submission. The reviews contain statements like…

This study highlights this important issue…I only have some minor issues..
This well-written paper from…
The methods employed to answer this question are gold standard, which is admirable, and the experiments are well-executed…

I’m reminded of the pay off that comes with slowing down, taking our time, being peaceful, and encouraging my collaborators to do flawless science.  In the words of Garrison Keillor, we’re going to do good work today.

I’m going to shake off my since-Friday-fussiness, find myself some backup dancers and a bejeweled hype man to whisper in my ear, and get back to it like the diva I am.

We’re going to have one less problem today, my lovelies.

 

Parsing Words About IRB Statuses Pisses Me The Fuck Off..

I’ve been doing human research for better than a decade now (and, yes, I did just appeal to authority). Every study that I have ever done has at some point touched an Institutional Review Board and every study has involved some consideration of how to obtain informed consent.

IRBs can do a couple of things when they consider a study. They can approve or deny approval for a study’s conduct. They can exempt the study from review, meaning that the investigators may press on without IRB involvement. They can approve an informed consent process and document, or they can waive the requirement for informed consent.

Every paper that I have subsequently written has been published in a journal that requires two statements be made – 1) What is the study’s status vis-à-vis the IRB and 2) how was informed consent obtained?

I’ve been very fortunate because my studies have been straight forward. I’ve been able to state simply “This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the MRU School of Tomfoolery. All participants provided written informed consent.” Done. Moving on…

But what if your study was deemed exempt or you got a waiver to either not need to get consent or get verbal consent or some other such fuckery?

Well, then you say that.  You don’t say your protocol was approved if it was exempted from review. That’s not the same. And you don’t say anything about informed consent except the actual way you obtained it.

no me jodas

A mi, no me jodas on this one, scientists. No me jodas.

(Motivation for this rant can be found here. Carajo.)