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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Descending Into Lab Hell

So the lab part of my life has been bad and is getting worse. My advisor's main grant is up for five-year renewal and if it doesn't get picked up, then - oops! - no money! Currently the grownups in the lab (ie, everyone but the neverending stream of semi-competent undergrads) are as follows: me (third-year grad student) , second-year grad student with gf about to give birth (um, so he'll be otherwise occupied soon), a lab tech, and my advisor. Not exactly a big lab. As it stands, my fellow grad student and I do a lot of basic lab maintenance stuff - ordering, cleaning up, that sort of thing - that really isn't part of what our program expects us to do. Lab Tech is tired of getting shit on by Advisor (and rightly so) has been planning on leaving sometime in the summer. The plan was to hire on one of the undergrads that has - gasp! - actual scientific competence at the end of the term, have Lab Tech train her, and for all of us to continue on out merry labtastic existence.

Except that's not what's happening. Advisor mentioned that is she didn't get her grant, she might not hire a lab tech. Excuse me? I'm sure as fuck not going to be her grad student and her lab tech. I expressed my doubts about how the lab would actually function in that instance but in her odd passive way, Advisor totally deflected all of my concerns. And apparently, while I was off wasting time sitting in the goddamn nursing home Friday...Advisor fired the lab tech. Without warning. Without actually hiring someone else. Without consulting any of us who actually, you know, do the goddamn research (since she hasn't even touched a rat or done any of the actual lab-running in YEARS) about whether we'd still be able to function.

We'll see. This may finally be the thing that drives me out of graduate school. I mean, I'd have a master's if I left now. I just cannot believe this. I've made it through classes, the prelim, I'm actually doing okay with the life-consuming TA requirement. I thought maybe I'd make it. But now? I'm not so sure. It isn't even the prospect of having to do all the lab-running myself (without any extra cash, I might add). It is that I've seen a side of my advisor I do not like at all. Between this random firing and the fact that my advisor has had her nanny in the lab doing stuff for us (after also suddenly firing said nanny - seriously, people, so not allow your unhappy domestic employees to come into contact with your students, since the employees know all of your nasty secrets and will not hesistate to spill them) I'm not sure that this woman is really someone I want to have to work with. I don't want to have to depend on her for my degree. But there isn't anyone else at this school I'd want to work with, either, especially since switching labs would involve totally starting over, something I just do not have the energy for.

Ugh. I'd hate to give up. But how much is this degree worth in terms of my sanity?


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