Posts Tagged ‘education’

The woman scientist

Call me a SCIENTIST.

This is what I do. This is what I like to do. This is what defines me. This is what I do best. Does not necessarily mean that I am a GOOD scientist. No, I am NOT. At least not YET.

The life of a budding scientist is FUN. A little exciting. A lot more frustrating. Full of anxiety. Overflowing with uncertainty. And loaded with reproach. Like a lab rat´s. Subject to constant experimentation and a lot of thinking. Not necessarily research related thinking. It is actually more of a how-to-live-life kind of thinking. In fact, I am constantly confronted with when-does-life-begin kind of questions.

But yeah! It is fun! It is a LEARNING process. An education. A TRAINING.

And I highly encourage you to indulge in science. And in math. I do like to recommend that parents expose their children to early scientific endeavors. Take a day trip to a museum. Or a zoo. Watch Discovery channel or national geographic.

It is fun. Really.

Scientists can be the coolest! Don’t they look peppy on their lab coats? They are one of the most respected personalities in academic institutions and in multi-million dollar agricultural and biomedical companies around the world. People look up to them. People actually believe them. So don’t you wanna be one of them?

This may sound a lot of fun, but wait. Let’s take a look at the behind the scenes of becoming a scientist. So what does it take to be a hard core scientist?!

First of all, hard work. You must be dedicated and focused. (Get focused alright! Not facebooking!) You do not have to be smart. But you really have to work hard. Success is dependent on effort (and sometimes on luck).

You have to be charming. And a good salesman. You should be persuasive and persistent. If you are eloquent, then that´s a plus. This is needed because you have to get funds. The lab is one of the most expensive places you can ever think of. Thousands of dollars can be spent on a single day. But this is not my problem for now. This is my boss´s job. 😛

You should be friendly too. And be able to work with a team. Scientists need to work with one another. Work together. Help each other. Science is unlike business. It is not about competition really. You only got each other. You speak the same language, and it is only you who understand each other. And especially for young scientists, you need to establish connections. So why not try to smile a little bit more?

Resistant. Or get immuned! If you know what I mean…

Resistant to and be able to work under extreme conditions. One time in my previous lab, the air-conditioning shut down. It was the height of summer. No electric fans are allowed as this will result to contamination of samples with dirt and dust being flown into the air. With the lab gown on and gloves on, it was like hell. And when you are handling proteins, the need for a cold room is apparent. Shifting back and forth from 37 degrees C to 4 degrees C is a big sh*t! To say that that is terrible is an understatement. But when you are paid to work, you have to work. Work in extreme conditions that is.

If you can, try hard to develop immunity. The lab is one of the most dangerous places you can ever be. So develop immunity to all the harmful chemicals and reagents you are handling everyday, be extra careful with everything you do, and be a freak, if that will help you at all.

Speed eating. Stretch-bladder-stretch. And automatic reset. These are some of the most useful features too!

Messed up body clock is not uncommon among lab rats. Most often you won´t be able to eat, pee, and sleep on time. Not regularly. You tend to develop faulty sleeping habits that will automatically turn on during seminars and conferences while it is almost always off during the wee hours. You also develop unhealthy eating habits. You crave for caffeine and MSG loaded instant noodles all the time.

When working in the lab, eat when you have time to eat, pee when you have time to pee. And do it fast! I probably can win an eating contest if I must! Hmmm.. May be that´s not a bad idea. I can even put it on my CV as a talent, don´t you think?

So now I ask, do you have what it takes to be scientist? Before you answer YES, put in mind that scientists are often tagged as WEIRD. And when that happens, you must be proud to say “Hell yeah, I´m a scientist. I´m supposed to be weird.”



(The picture of the woman scientist isn´t mine. I got it somewhere from the web.)


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