19 May, 2008


Just got out of the lab. Spent 3 hours in the flow hood plating serial dilutions of bacteria. Tedium. Tedium in which I must remain very accurate and precise with my measurements, which had to be done a couple hundred times (the same measurements).

Sometimes I look back to the craft guilds of the 17th century prior to the Industrial Revolution. They regulated all the craftsmen and their products and what was allowable and who could sell where and what and how and for how much. But they also trained young people as apprentices, then when they became competent let them be journeymen, and finally, after their masterpiece was complete, they were masters of their trade. In some ways, becoming a research scientist recapitulates that progression.

I very recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology. As an undergraduate, I worked in labs, and on my own project, kind of like an apprentice. I learned the practical basics that they can't teach in lecture halls, such as pipetting, cell culture, operating cantankerous equipment. Now I've graduated and am working in a lab as a technician. This is like the journeyman stage. Later, when graduate school happens, it will be as if the guild has granted me permission to continue to advance my craft as a journeyman. And in graduate school, I will have to research and defend a thesis, the academic equivalent to a masterpiece.

The only problem with this is that I feel like I should have my own tools. A good set of micropipettes, maybe a pH meter, a couple sheafs of protocols. Unfortunately, micropipettes are a lot more expensive than hammers.