Friday, February 5, 2010

What?!? No solutions?

Somehow, I inherited a graduate student. They were given a chunk of my project, and I was told to teach said grad. student to purify proteins using the FPLC so that I could then teach them a bunch more stuff to do with the purified proteins. In theory, this is totally fine.
First of all, the chunk of project s/he received is the chunk I didn't want in the first place. It's immunology intensive and I HATE IMMUNOLOGY with a white hot passion.
Second, the things I need to teach this student, at least for now, are not exactly difficult to master, so I don't anticipate this being a big time waster. Not to mention, that's just the way of the lab. More experienced people, teach less experienced people. Hell, I still need people to teach me things too.

However, I don't like it when things go like this:
Conversation #1:
Grad. student: "MXX, I signed us up for the FPLC at noon."
MXX: "Great, on what day."
Grad. student: "Today."
MXX:"Uhhhhhhh, OK." I'm a little annoyed with this, but I know first year grad. students are juggling classes and typically have a steep learning curve, so I let decide to let it go and finish my afternoon experiments after the purification. "Next time, I would appreciate it if you would check with me first to make sure I have time."
Grad student: "Oh. OK. Sorry."
MXX: "It's OK."

Conversation #2: It's noon and we are in front of the FPLC
MXX: "Get me your solutions and we can get started."
Grad. student: "What solutions?"
MXX: "The solutions that were listed on the protocol that I gave you. The solutions that I told you to have prepared before we started."
Grad student: "Can't I just use your solutions."
MXX: "No. I don't have enough." (Which was true.) "Go make your solutions and then come and get me."
Now this really irritates the crap out of me. When you are asking someone else to take time out of there day to help you learn how to do something, then you arrive prepared. That includes reading the protocol and making the solutions required for successful completion of that protocol beforehand.


chall said...

I thkn the worst part is that "they" don't understand why you get upset when this happens... I had one of those moments last summer. I have nothing against showing undergrads what to do, after giving them the protocol and recipies for the solutions and a "see you in two days and we'll do this". The problem arises with "I didn't really read" and "You wanted me to prepare?"....

somewhere here I had to count to 10. It was way worse when the student asked me to come in on the weekend since "they had a thing planned with thir friends and could I check on the mice and help them out during 3 days".... two days after starting a 10 days experiment ^^

Dimitris said...

Ahhh and wait when your PI tells you that he found this awesome undergrad that you should work with... it makes the grad students look like geniuses...

microbiologist xx said...

chall - I can't believe an undergrad would even have the nerve to ask something like that. Jeeze.

Dimitris - The undergrads are more frustrating. Fortunately, I've only had to work with one or two undergrads. The first one I made cry and the second one I gave something simple and repetitive. There were no tears and it went much better. I really don't mind helping people, but I expect them to help themselves a little as well.