I have realized recently that, before starting this research experience, I often looked for videos or blogs that told me about a day in the life of a research scientist. I always wondered what the work-life balance was, how predictable the day to day schedule is and what exactly research entails. Today, I will be sharing my own daily experience, in hopes of inspiring anyone that is in the position of my passed self.
Today is 7/13/18, the remarkable Friday the 13th. I walked to work this morning, a wonderful 1.6 mile walk, out of choice and also because parking fees are expensive. At 9:00 am I got to the office, put my lunch in the office mini fridge and set up my stuff at my desk. The first thing I had to do was prepare a data table in my lab notebook for the data that I was to collect later that day. At 9:30 I chatted with a coworker about how there are 13 dollar tattoos on this Friday the 13th and we went on a coffee break. Coffee in hand, we walked to the room in which another coworker was to give his practice talk before going to his conference this coming Saturday. The talk was engaging, everyone from the lab gave helpful feedback and I was back to the lab at around noon. After a meeting with my mentor on the proper way to count colony forming units (cfus) on petri dishes, I sat and counted for about an hour and a half give or take. This part to me is one of the less exciting parts of the job. After all of the data was properly written in my lab book, all of the smelly jars of wet compost were cleaned and my plates were stored in the 4 degree fridge, I was starving so I sat down to eat my lunch with a side of funny Youtube videos. I then set to work on inputting all of my data into Excel, which was then input into R programming to create graphs and t.tests of the data. Funny enough, data analysis with programming is actually one of my favorite parts of the process.
Once the analysis was done and saved for review with my mentor on Monday, I took another coffee break (frequent coffee breaks are pretty common around the lab and are less breaks and more so coffee runs). That very coffee that I bought out of a can from the vending machines downstairs (though many times its from one of the three coffee shops within a three minute walk from my office) is now powering my writing of this blog which brings me to the end of my day in the lab. As a side note, I talked earlier about a work life balance which is something that is very important to me. I do sometimes take work home but because I often work while I am eating lunch and maximize my productivity while I’m in the office, when I get home I have free time to play music or do what I please. In talking with some of my researching coworkers, this balance is common and achievable, as long as you have a good work ethic. Hopefully this helps anyone curious about lab work and I know you were looking for results of my latest run but that will be coming soon. Until then, don’t overheat and have a good weekend.