If you’ve been reading “Mind the Gap” for a while now, you are probably aware of the fact that I am a fair-skinned lass from England. You will therefore understand my excitement when I saw the headline “Wine consumption can help prevent sunburn”. Not only am I fond of a corked cocktail every now and then, but I burn in the sun like an over-achieving moth in a flame.
By Katie Pratt on August 3rd, 2011
By Alan Marnett on August 1st, 2011
In last week’s poll nearly 70% of readers felt that giving group meeting more than quarterly is a waste of time. While this certainly doesn’t sound like an extreme position to us, it’s clear that respondents’ answers were influenced by their definition of group meeting. If the goal of group meeting is to get help with the problems we’re facing in lab, then maybe monthly or even weekly informal meetings would make sense. Alternatively, if the purpose of group meeting is to practice giving formal seminars, then maybe giving two or three meetings a year is enough. So this got us thinking – What the heck is the point of group meeting anyway?
By Alan Marnett on July 27th, 2011
Unlike traditional offices, our lab benches don’t come with a door to shut when we want privacy. As a result, there’s no physical barrier to alert visitors to the fact that they’re now in our personal space. Even in the event the approaching individual is courteous, without a door where are they to knock – on the bench, trash can, our head? Although a couple of pieces of drywall and a door would dramatically cut down on the riff raff dropping by our bench, lab safety departments would likely stroke out at the first sight of our handiwork. But there’s another way.
By Alan Marnett on July 25th, 2011
In lab vernacular, few words can elicit a fiery range of emotions like “group meeting”. Fear, panic, apathy, anger, frustration, embarrassment and nausea are not uncommon responses as a graduate student or postdoc reads the lab schedule and realizes they’re up next week. While some will feel they haven’t had enough time to obtain new data, others will feel a tremendous amount of pressure since it’s their only talk of the year. But who’s to say how many group meetings we should give in a year?… You.
By Dora Farkas on July 22nd, 2011
Since she has been hired, my fellow research assistant has not showed up for or helped to prepare for a single lab safety inspection or audit. She is especially sloppy, and always leaves an un-kosher mess which if I do not have time to clean up before inspections, the lab suffers for. Her standard excuse is “I haven’t been feeling well” or “my memory has been bad lately”, and she has never responded to any of my requests or reminders. While I do care about her and empathize with her medical struggles, I have my own and even when I am not well it falls on me to pick up her slack, or take the heat when I forget to. I am leaving the lab in a few months to enter graduate school and am worried about who will pick up after her when I am gone so that my boss doesn’t have to take the heat. I have spoken to my boss, but he has not done anything. What more can I do to convince her to improve her habits?
By Katie Pratt on July 20th, 2011
The other day I was idly perusing the science and nature section on Netflix, trying to decide between people, animals, or dramatic landscapes. I settled on National Geographic’s Australia’s Deadly Dozen, and less than an hour later was utterly terrified of the continent. There are a gajillion venomous beasties there! Spiders, octopuses, fish, in the water, on land, in the wood shed, in your laundry, everywhere. And these things don’t mess around; their venoms usually kill within hours unless you get your bitten self to the ER in time to receive anti-venom (N.B. not available all colors or sizes).
By Alan Marnett on July 18th, 2011
Sleep is rarely considered a reagent, but without it few experiments reach a successful conclusion. In fact, researchers have demonstrated “sleep drunkenness“, where individuals deprived of sleep perform similarly to those who have been drinking. So while PIs may think a lack of sleep is no big deal, when’s the last time they said “Experiments still not working – have you tried drinking a 6-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon before starting the assay?”
By Christopher Dieni on July 15th, 2011
By Nick Fahrenkopf on July 13th, 2011
Maybe it’s the summer heat getting to reporters’ heads. Or maybe not. Below I’ve outlined a couple of other recent examples of how the headlines that the popular press shares with the public don’t always match up with what the scientific press actually reports. Or, as in most cases, how the report is twisted in such a way to make for a good “story”.
By Katie Pratt on July 7th, 2011
I have a vivid memory of one of my more humiliating college experiences, and it involved a pigeon. I was walking home past the law library, not really paying attention as my brain had just be fried to a crisp by a six-hour biochem lab, when a dirty great pigeon flew at my face. I shrieked and ducked and generally made quite a scene. After the evil creature had flown away I took stock of my surroundings and realized I had a sizeable audience. These days I probably would’ve taken a bow, but instead I turned the color of a ripe plum, buried my face in my scarf, and fled.