Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It Is Good, It Is Bad, It Is Unpredictable

Brain space is full. Error. Error.

I have science-y topics to write about, and no brain cells to do it with. Instead, I am preoccupied with the essential questions of the universe:
  1. Will my wretchedly complicated assay ever reproduce my beautiful result?
  2. Will Merest Acquaintance In Big City help me do mass spec?
  3. Will I ever decipher the 110 incomprehensible pages in old notebooks, which I am now trying to turn into a thesis chapter?
  4. Will I ever graduate?
  5. Should I buy four pairs of shoes, or five?
  6. Should I chop off all my hair again? (Pros: easy to deal with, won't give me headaches; cons: have to get it cut every 8 weeks or looks awful, would need to buy clips and a headband so I don't set it on fire).
Elli asks, what is good about being in science? And I have, in point of fact, been feeling terribly negative. So here's what I love about research and science.
  • Independence. I design my own experiments, analyze my own data. I get to think about cool stuff and then do it however I want. As long as I can explain it, I'm free to go my own way.
  • Good funding. The lab has lots of money. This makes life easier.
  • Good company. I have smart, witty friends and colleagues who are handily concentrated for my enjoyment by the university .
  • They pay me to think. I love figuring stuff out; not the endless PCR, but the analytical thinking. The moment you finally drive a stake through a hypothesis with a beautifully simple experiment. And that moment where you look at your data and think "I'll be tied for a hog, I know what's happening! IT WORKED!!"
  • Discipline. I have learned to be efficient, productive, and more self-motivated than I thought possible.
  • Self-improvement. I have learned to be assertive, persuasive, and more self-confident than I thought possible.
  • Science Trivial Pursuit Champion! I have learned more scientific facts, both relevant and irrelevant, than I thought possible. I am a treasure trove of random information.
  • Sharing the love. I get to blog about science, meet fascinating people in the computer and out, and share my love of science. I love helping other people understand how stuff works and how much it makes a difference to know.
  • It only gets better. After this, anything else will likely seem easier.
  • What makes me stick it out? Knowing that being Dr. Scientist increases my chances of being in charge wherever I go next, and that I will have the knowledge, the experience, and the credentials to be able to do what I love: spreading the word of science.
Anyone else?