For whatever reason I am sick again. I don’t remember if I wrote here about the last time I was sick. I had a bit of a fever for 2 days, then it was all coughing and sneezing. That was almost 2 months ago. I am now with what appears to be a cold ….. I’m sneezing, my voice is almost gone and I’m all congested. So, my apologies for not writing as often as I should.
A few days ago I ran one of the columns that was giving me trouble and I am happy to report it is now working well, and my protein is looking awesome. Let’s see if I can now start forming the complexes I need.
The rest of the good news is that a) my daddy’s contract came through and he’s keeping his job (he loves what he does) and b) my contract also came through a few weeks ago. In part that’s also why I wasn’t writing, as I didn’t want to look lazy by updating the blog while in the lab (where the muse usually hits me).
I have yet to buy my ticket to go to graduation, but I asked the boss if I could go and he gave me a look of why not?! So, I have now all the proper channels working for me to attend graduation.
Hope you’re having a great weekend. I hope to start writing more often ASAP.
I know I’ve been absent from the blogging scene for a little while. So many things have happened in the last 3 weeks it’s been crazy. And anytime I get a chance to log in, approve comments and catch up on little things I end up dreading writing a post about current events.
Part of the reason I’ve been out of the loop is due to a recent discovery. Since January I’ve been trying to purify this protein which is one of the main building blocks of my postdoctoral research. Said protein was made as a fusion protein and I was given a protocol to follow which is similar to others used by the group. My lab is very successful at expression protein (same as many others) and the tools to grow, purify and obtain mg amounts of protein are pretty standardized.
Enter moi. I was a bit …. mmm, spoiled while in grad school. As I didn’t have to do much biochem to obtain my samples of interest (sometimes people would send their so our facilities could analyze them), I forgot all about purifying, growing and all those other details which make biochem a necessary discipline of the trade. Thus, I “warned” my new boss of my biochemical incapacity and he agreed I’d have a few months to try and purify things on my own and do it proficiently.
As I mentioned in paragraph #1 my lab is very successful at purifying proteins so I felt I had little to fear. Now, I’m a very careful person, but if someone else has designed (and tried on a very small-scale) a purification protocol, based on experience I’ll follow it to a tee and usually it works.
Enter March 2010. All of my biochem frustrations and fears and you name it came crawling and chasing me as column, after column, after column, all I got was my desired protein PLUS the cut tag. The friggin’ thing would not, could not come off.
Earlier this week I had a fall out with Dear Boyfriend in which I told him all I thought … about me, and how incapable I was feeling. BUT earlier that day I decided to try adding 150 mM salt to my buffer and see how it went the next day.
Ba da min! Ba da boom! IT WORKED! I texted Dear Boyfriend to communicate the happy news (he had seen how frustrated and mad I was, yet remained as encouraging as always). I sent the protein for more analyses and it’s not degraded (yee pee) and now I think I have it all worked out.
On the scientific side things are looking promising.
On the personal, or mental state side things aren’t as bright. PMDD is acting up … and badly. My mood has been in the trash for almost a week, even though my lab stuff is working. I’ve been snapping at the boyfriend and any little provocation and I feel like an ogre.
SO, between troubleshooting and buying the PMDD med and having it take effect my blogging capacity is little to none existent. I’m feeling miserable dear blogging world, and for that reason I’ve been neglecting it. Please don’t take it personal, it’s all me and my head.
Soon I hope to be back in full speed and have lab and life things under control. Till then, dear interwebz don’t think I’m depriving you of my talent. It’s a temporary thing which I hope to solve or at least gain some control on very soon.
Sorry for the hiatus. It’s been SO crazy lately. I almost walked into my boss’s office last week as I was having one of those weeks where not only the PMDD was acting up, but also my protein and equipment were driving me crazy ( I was very close to calling it quits). But this entry is not about me. I’m staying with my job (and crossing my fingers that it will get renewed pronto) but some peeps around me (or the blogosphere) might be venturing into the unknown, and quitting or forgetting about getting their contracts renewed. .
I can’t go into too many details as things are yet to come full circle, but a few months ago I met this lovely postdoc who turns out is just going to be around for a few months while her hubs is looking for a permanent position anywhere they’ll have him (and her). New postdoc is very nice, friendly, from a similar geographical (grad school) area and …. she’s in trouble. Not because of something she did, but because of the group she joined. New postdoc friend appears to be very happy and responsible, BUT her boss is being less than firendly. Mean boss is driving new postdoc friend crazy. So after much talk back and forth and some talks with new and old department chairs she might be leaving her job soon. I feel for her, for very many reasons. As a female, educated in the US, prolific author and new to the department many aspects unite us (except that my boss is “da bomb” and hers is … well, less than nice). Not only is mean boss nasty (and bad mouths the entire lab against the other) but also mean boss is very stingy, to the point where people go into other labs to beg (BEG) for reagents and pippetors (peeps, it is bad).
And this whole situation has got me thinking. About when to call it quits, when you get fired or when you’re simply done and need to move to a different pasture. I can’t say that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been (as a new postdoc in a completely unrelated field as that of my thesis I find this changing and adapting a little bit more than challenging), but I’m trying to learn and process and do things faster and keep myself moving and being productive (others might not see it that way, or so I’ve heard).
I’ve been in this position for almost a year (well, a little less, but who’s keeping the score?). And I’ve heard some of the best and worst advice about staying or quitting in the last few weeks (yes, problems with mean friend’s boss have stretched out for almost a month!). It’s gotten me thinking about what to do and how to refer to this period of time in which you’re transitioning and how to explain it (or not) to future emplyers. Postdoc friend has been at her current position for a little over 2.5 months. Technically she doesn’t need to justify or refer to this time, she might simply say it was something on the side (but I don’t know what’s worse, lying about a previous job or saying you quit because you’re previous boss was/is a nagging bitch). Anyways, the point is that I think my friend has endured enough. If I were her I’d be gone by now. It appears as if she’s tried every single trick and tip to negotiate a better attitude from her boss and she’s yet to see any changes (for the best).
I wish her well, and I certainly hope that she moves on to a bigger and better future, but it’s truly gut-wrenching when you see young, talented, driven people treated the way she is without the department taking a stronger stand and (possibly) getting some counseling so that mean boss can fix her was. Just so you know, if new postdoc friend goes, she’s going to be the 4th or 5th postodoc to leave said group, and overall the 6th or 7th person to get the hell out.
I know, I have not posted in a while. I’ve been so busy with work and life and sometimes I find it hard to sit down for a few minutes and write a little. As usual, a search terms entry is about to unfold. I’m not happy with how slow this is going, so this one is going to be a long one, but not as long as previous ones.
Today, the following are the search terms of the day:
Grad student depression inadequacy – I think I’ve discussed something similar before, but just to reiterate .. this is a very normal feeling, especially when you compare yourself against your classmates, or even labmates. I can tell you I still feel inadequate, almost 8 months after my defense, I still feel inadequate. Don’t let these feelings get the best of you. Talk to your counsellor, or a psychologist who can maybe help in showing you strategies to cope. You’re not alone, and it will get better as you learn more, become more independent and get a good hold of your project. But above all, don’t be discouraged, it’s normal.
I’m tired of being a postdoc – well, hello there. You are not alone either. I think that by nature postdoc’ing is a tiring position. You’ve gotten out of school without having a few months to breathe and take it all in because bills had to be paid. Or maybe you thought that job interview at Big Name University (or even community college X) was nailed and you’d become a prof soon, just to realize the stupid institution decided to freeze all hirings and you had to renew your contract as a postdoc for yet some unknown amount of time. I feel you, you’re not alone. Add to that the fact that the pay may not be astronomically different from that of the rest of the grad minions in your lab and you may want to sit a cry a little. I feel you. I’m trying not to focus on that and give thanks for having a job. The other day my BF and I were talking about how much I complain … I and do so a LOT! And it wears me down (and him), so I’m trying (but not being über successful) and being content, happy and thankful for what I had. I was given a chance that given the skills I don’t have is a long shot. And the lab is big, which in my opinion is not the ultimate best environment to work in, but nonetheless is something I need to adapt and learn to live with given my current situation. So yeah, it can be tiring. But I’ve mentioned in countless occasions that postdoc’ing is a temporary thing, and that while one is in it there are many skills to be learned and expanded, so that when the next chance to do something awesome comes, you’ll be ready to do it. So hang in there, there are many of us feeling the same.
Can you leave your postdoc after a year? I believe so, but don’t quote me. The way postdocs work at my current institution is that you get a contract for a year, and upon good reviews it gets renewed. So after a year you could stay or go. At my previous school you usually got a contract for about 2 years, or if you had a fellowship you would more than likely stay for the length of the fellowship. I think it’s easier to leave a postdoc within a year if you’re not tied down by a lengthy contract and/or fellowship, but if things aren’t just working out, or if family or academic situations come up, you can leave without further trouble. As always, keep the lines of communication open and keep your current boss posted if you think that your career is going to go through a major shift that involves quitting or leaving your position.