Archive for: September, 2010

SABOTAGE!

Sep 30 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Original post date: Sept 30, 2010

I can't believe a whole day has gone by and no one else at LabSpaces has jumped on this one. Well it's mine, all mine!!

If you've been on the internet at all today, you probably at least saw a mention of the U Mich sabotage case. You did, right? I mean, my friend who is a lawyer saw it. In case you were not on the internet today, here is the synopsis: a grad student noticed that her stuff was all wonky, and after dealing with the police and whatnot and through hidden cameras, she caught a post-doc in her lab pouring ethanol into her media!!! Are we all shappalled? (why this portmanteau cracks me up so much may be due to the gin. It's completely possible.)

We are not shappalled, right? It's something we feel is totally within the realm of reality, and that we quietly suspect of that person in our lab who we think doesn't like us, but we don't know why. And seriously, shit doesn't go your way all the time, does it not? Your western lanes are all weird, or your cells die or whatever, and at first you think you are a terrible scientist, and then you think that maybe someone is messing with your stuff! And your friends are all, no, you're being paranoid, but then you install hidden cameras, and someone is TOTALLY messing with your stuff!!!!

The thing that really scares me is that in this particular case, the grad student and post-doc weren't even "competing," by which I mean they weren't in some (VERY REAL) situation where a PI gives like 5 of his or her trainees the exact same project and whoever gets the answer first gets a Nature paper. The post-doc just felt generally stressed and pressured, and was compelled to slow his lab mate's research. This is super sad, because I mean really, we are ALL stressed and pressured!! All of us!!!!! But do we go messing up our lab mates' research? NO, RIGHT??? If you are, you should probably turn yourself in, as there's likely already a hidden camera somewhere watching you. And this post-doc--whose wife is apparently pregnant--his career is over.

It's sad. It's sad because no one goes into science research with the mentality that they will do crazy, unethical things to succeed; you go into science research because you think science is awesome, right? It is!! That it has the capacity to turn people into sneaky, unscrupulous saboteurs, well, it just seems to go against everything that science is about in the first place.

And I'm sorry, but I can't post about a sabotage without a little Beasties, especially when they were just nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!


Beastie Boys - Sabotage
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Let me give you my card

Sep 23 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Original post date: Sept 23, 2010

Do you belong to a gym? If so, do you have "gym friends?" I have a couple of gym friends, but our friendship is strictly limited to the gym. We chat in the locker room or while we're waiting for Abs class to start, but that's it. I mean, let's face it--any friend you make at the gym is a friend you make while sweaty and/or half-naked--it'd be a little awkward if I actually knew their last names or saw them in other contexts. But apparently that's just me, because I overheard two gym friends talking in the locker room today, and they decided to kick their friendship up a notch, to Facebook level. Big move!

Of course, in order to be friends on Facebook with someone you need some sort of personal information--full name, email, what have you, and so to facilitate the transition, one girl offered the other her card. I found this both awesome and fascinating, because I have never in my life had a card to hand out to strangers while we're both in our underwear. But I kind of want one!

Every year as the Society for Neuroscience meeting approaches I think that I should maybe have some cards made, and I never do. But this year, when the chances of me genuinely needing a job during the meeting are pretty darn high, I'm thinking a little more seriously about really making it all happen. But what goes on an unemployed neuroscientist's business card?

I likely won't have a work address or phone number, just my email and cell. And what do I put as my title? Post-post-doc? Neuroscientist? Do I list my areas of interest? Talents? And most importantly, do I go for Eggshell or Pale Nimbus?

 

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My Science Enemy

Sep 13 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Original post date: Sept 13, 2010

A few days ago, I got an email from a service I don't at all recall signing up for. It's called CiteAlert, and its job is apparently to notify you when one of your publications has been cited in an Elsevier journal, which is pretty much all of them. All of the journals.

I was of course very pleased with this news, and was also of course very curious as to what extremely intelligent person had read my paper and thought it worthy of a mention. When I clicked through, however, I discovered something troubling. The citation was made by my Science Enemy, and my work was mentioned for the sole purpose of taking a jab. Well, I never!!

My history with Science Enemy goes back around 10 years, when I was presenting my first ever conference poster. She was very interested in my work, and, wanting to be sociable, I casually asked her whose lab she was in. My friendly query was met with an indignant "MINE," and it's there I believe the rivalry began. I of course tried to remedy this faux pas with "Oh, it's just because you look so YOUNG!!" (and truly she did), but my conciliatory words fell on deaf ears; it was on.

Since my post-doc began, our lines of work have come dangerously close together. In fact, due to a certain journal taking for-fucking-ever to review my manuscript, she even semi-scooped me. But she took some shortcuts, and frankly, my lab has more sophisticated methods, so I went on to publish mine in a journal with twice the impact factor. We've found similar, but not exactly matching results, and consequently have developed differing theories as to what's actually going on in our general area of study. Happens all the time, right? But she's harassed my lab mates at meetings, and once came up to my poster, whipped out a ruler, and proceeded to measure my error bars. Who does that??

I have to say, I don't like this. I'm not used to being actively disliked! Considered a loser and forced to eat lunch alone, sure, but just flat-out antagonized? It's weird. I see her at every SfN meeting and I try my best to be cordial. I even call her "Dr Enemy" to show respect! And yet, it is still so uncomfortable, because every time I catch a glance at her, her eyes are shooting laser beams in my direction.

Now, I don't mean to be painting myself as some passive victim, here. In defending my own work it's unavoidable that I address our discrepancies, which means that in some way, I have to state what I think is at best unclear and at worst wrong about hers. So I get it. I just wish we could talk about our differences like adults, rather than dance around each other like the Sharks and Jets.

I know there are plenty of science rivalries out there--any good stories? Any happy endings? (Genomic Repairman, don't answer that).

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