You know you’ve worked too long in a lab when…

Today I came across this list of signs that you have been working too long in a lab. I would even say it applies to working too long in a certain branch of science, or doing research for too long.
But, slightly plagiarising inspired by that list, here are some things that I have noticed are indications that you are working in a lab, any research lab, but mostly a biology/biochemical lab. Well, let’s just say that they’re indications of me at the moment.
You know you’re doing PhD research in Life Sciences when…

  • … you sometimes have to run from social activities, such as lunch, because you’re busy with a protocol.
  • … you’re no longer scared of rodents.
  • … no one of your family or non-work friends can really explain what you do. And face it, most of your work friends can’t either. Can you, come to think of it?
  • … you can’t watch CSI/The Big Bang Theory/Any SciFi movie/… without cursing at at least one scientific inaccuracy.
  • … you use acronyms for everything and never stop to explain what they mean. Do you even still know?
    (APC… Adenomatous Polysomethingamajingy?)
  • … you sometimes have a headache at the end of the day from looking down a microscope/at a computer screen for too long.
  • … you slightly disappointed that you don’t have to wear your safety equipment all the time. You actually think a lab coat and safety goggles look cool.
  • … while choosing an outfit to where in the morning, you make sure the skirt/dress is long enough so it won’t look like you’re wearing nothing/just tights under your lab coat.
  • … you want dry ice or liquid nitrogen at home to do silly experiments with.
  • … you want parafilm at home because it’s obviously really useful.
  • … you nudging friends to do “Friday afternoon experiments” with you. (Oh, that’s how you win a Noble Prize, by the way.)
  • … you try to make the best out of failed experiments.
  • … you find a way to use LEGO for science, so you can go shopping on Pick a Brick.
  • … you feel slightly exhilarated travelling on public transportation with some samples, even though they in no way can start a epidemic ever.
  • … you’ve been in the lab so long that you’re afraid to ask what people are talking about when they say HET or Min (and eventually realise they’re really obvious things).
  • … you start a blog about it. (Wow, meta…)

Just to illustrate a few of these points:

Sometimes a failed experiment can result in something beautiful.
(It’s just crystallised salts. No biggie.)

Image of crystallized salt after drying a hydrogel
Image taken on a Nikon eclipse TS100 at the University of Dundee.

How Lego had the perfect dimensions for exactly what I wanted to do.

Top left: lego blocks in a petridish. Top right: a bit of agar molded by lego. Bottom: a 6 well plates with molded lego-wells
But I was like this before I started this PhD…

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