This Friday is my last day in the lab. Six weeks isn’t a very long time to spend in one, but when planning it I realised there’s a limit to how long I could be unemployed for… The aim of my time here was predominantly exposure: after opting out of research opportunities at uni in favour of things like human evolution and French, I wanted to see what the lab environment entailed, and if it’s something I could envisage myself making up a significant portion of my future career.
As I was only to be here for a short time, there wasn’t much hope of me getting oriented and adequately skilled up in time to do an experiment with results worth publishing. And while I’d probably have been happy enough with that, my supervisor was keen for me to get something demonstrable out of my time here. So, I’ve been doing a paper-based project, trying to write a review paper (/meta-analysis) on some drugs currently in Phase 1 & 2 clinical trials.
Alongside this, I’ve been popping in and out of the laboratory itself, where two new PhD students are being shown the ropes on a couple of experiments. So I’ve been learning said ropes alongside them as well as poking around with a couple of cells: feeding them, changing them, and generally treating them like microscopic babies. Or sea-monkeys!
It’s been fun here, and I’ve had a good bit of craic with the people in the lab. I think I’ve gained a nice amount of exposure to see what life is like in research, and at the different levels of involvement/seniority. It’s also quite fun hearing people having intelligent scientific conversations, as opposed to the intelligent clinical ones I’m more used to from the past few years in the hospital.
While obviously I’ve not experienced the stress induced by The Dreaded Write-Up (which my PhD friends will attest to is real), I imagine it’s something I could ultimately cope with, and so I reckon lab work is something I’d happily get involved in later down the line.
Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to have some more sea monkeys.