got kicked out of the project becuase I was "enthusiastic" - (Jul/17/2008 )
my advise: if it happened once, it's likely it will happen again (laws of nature). if you can't find a mentor or someone who helps you (preferably someone both, your boss and you like) then get out of there. it's not worth it to be in a lab where it is like that. where your boss doesn't trust what you do or rejects your ideas (until his ex-phd student suggests the same you did one year ago). yeah, i'd say don't loose your time and find another place.
The postdoc is truly a bad teacher. Nobody sane gives a protocol to a freshman without guiding him first. The guideline is first let him watch, then let him do while watching, and after he feels confident, let him do it.
we only have jangajarn version of the story here.
he/she couldn't do the experiment... someone else could.
then instead of going through all the options with their boss (including realising that perhaps they are making a mistake), the blame is placed on the "environment". human error is the major cause of things not working (and especially contamination). perhaps it's better that j- start with something that is easier, and then work up to the more complex experiments.
2. when i first started, i was given a piece of paper and told to follow it. that's how i stumbled upon this site. it's a steep learning curve, but that's how it works. not everyone has the time to hold your hand while you learn the ropes.
if you have issues with both your boss and the post doc... perhaps you aren't making yourself clear. do you really think that you, with very little experience, would know more that these two? if you can't work with these people, perhaps it's better you find a lab that is more suitable to your tastes.
Maybe I've got carried off, vetticus... but I've seen situations like that blown out of proportions, so I got angry. It's not you have to babysit students. Usually, you take in a person, you estimate what he/she can do, what are his strenghts, areas of problems. People come from different places, and you're responsible for taking them into your team and making the team work. Or you have subordinates doing that.
That said, jangajarn has to become independent very quickly.
hope I will become very soon...
Vetticus you are right, some times we blame everything but us. The majority of problems in the experiments are because we make a mistake.
I had taught many many students for the last 10 years (first as a grad student and now as a research associate) and the rule of thumb is NEVER leave a freshman without guidance at least for the first month. When freshman talks to the PI's for an oppotunity in the lab research some times the student exagerate the knowlegde and if the PI's don't assign a person to teach the student problems could happen. I always ask the students what they know and if they don't know the protocols I sit down and explain first the theory then show how to do it. After that I give the opportunity to do it themself, but with my supervision when they do it right several times and feal confident then let them "fly solo" but always check them. If they tells me that know how to do it I seat near and watch what them work.
I have seen students with experience making agarose gel with water because they forgot (apparently vacations means that your brain will delete all what you learn...)
Dear Jangajar take the opportunity to learn, always ask if any doubt (I always tell to my students that the only silly question is the one that isn't ask), read a lot about the theme of the research and if have a protocol guide use it (Manitis, short protocols, etc), make a schedule so you will give enough time to research and to study. Do your work right so the PI could give you another opportunity in the project that you like. Be patience and still have problems just search another project in a different lab.
If U r a student, there are only 2 rules that U need to remember. Keep it in mind - helps.
1. Boss is always right.
2. If boss is wrong, look at rule no. 1.
If I become boss after graduating and working in my field for a decade or two and some one who hasn't been in the lab for even a year comes up and says my lab is not good . .. he will be venting here
First and foremost, keep at it! I can only tell you that my first experiences in a lab left me crying. I felt so stupid and slow. I had no idea how to do anything and anything I tried to do didn't work. I remember sitting there looking at the post-docs wondering how they even know what to do next! It is confusing at first and you are going to make many mistakes. More importantly is that you learn from these mistakes. You need to take responsibility for your own knowledge and can't expect that it will be handed to you. Be thankful when someone helps but you need to spend a lot of time researching and learning on your own. It's the fastest way to independent research. Use every search engine on the web to find protocols, hints/tips, papers doing the same experiment you want to do. You'll be amazed at how much you can find and learn. This forum is also an excellent resource. Post problems (with details of what you did) and you'll have fellow scientists from around the world help and suggest solutions! Additionally you will be a much stronger scientist if you fully understand what it is you are doing and why you are using the reagents you are. Do you know what every component of your buffers are and why it needs to be there? Why EGTA and not EDTA? Why NP40 and not TX100? The more you question (and answer the questions yourself) the better you'll be. Don't worry about being taken off a project for now. Just work with what you've been given and do your absolute best to make it work. Once your boss sees that you are becoming stronger and more independent, he'll give you more and more to do.
Just curious, do you fully understand why your boss got mad? This is important to know. Is it that you let someone else do the experiment? Is it that the project was discussed outside of the lab? All I know is that my boss does not like for us to discuss anything outside of the lab. Not projects, not politics, not anything. Most of the time any posters and talks that I must do for my program are very cryptic and never presents all the data I have. I'm advised to answer questions with "that's a very good question. I'll have to look into doing that experiment", even if I have done it and have the data.
You are still early on in your graduate career and you need to make sure that you are going to be able to work with everyone in this lab. It's not too late to join a different lab if this one isn't going to work out but don't lose track of why you came to grad school. It wasn't to make friends or feel cozy and comfy. You need to think about your future and which lab and project has the best prospects. I had the chance to join a lab with a wonderful, sweet, kind, caring, thoughtful, patient PI but the project was horrible. No real potential for large publications. Very small topic with only a few labs in the world working in the field. The lab I joined has a PI that I personally dislike. He's cold, harsh, rude, thoughtless and only cares about data (positive that is, negative data doesn't even get you points for effort). The available project had huge potential with hundreds of labs working in the field. The interest level for work would be enormous (and has been). My future, beyond grad school, is in a much better position here. So what's a few years of torture when in the end you are better off? I joke but seriously, you need to think beyond grad school (in the grand scheme, it is quite temporary) and what is going to be ultimately best for your career.
I agreed with rkay447.
I walked into my boss's office and said that the problem is environmental, and he said you are out of the project!! I did not know about the politics involved in the department.. it cost me dearly.. he was really angry that I did such a thing... the problem is he was never there to sit with me and offer me solutions... and now he's fired me from that project and given me a "simpler" project, and said "better get it done"!! As a newbie, I thought bosses would be patient and helpful..
I feel frustrated/diasppointed... I've started to look for options like patent lawyer etc..
I do not know the character of your supervisor but imagine that he may be also under pressure by his boss; however, 2.5 months is not too much of struggling; the positive thing is that you still have the chance to be successful in another project;
As a very junior scientist, you have a few options. You can obviously leave, which is something you are considering. Although this will fix the immediate problem, you don't want to get into the habit of bugging out whenever anyone reprimands you. Doesn't look good on any CV, and you'll be forever on the run in whatever career(s) you follow.
Alternately, you can suck it up, go back to your supervisor, apologise for making the mistake, and ask to be reinstated to the project. If that fails, you can then consider leaving science or moving to another project. If it works, remember the lesson, and make sure you don't repeat the mistake.
Most important of all is how you respond to this. You can either let it shape you, or you can use it to learn about lab politics, the place of junior scientists and the realities of working in a lab (i.e, it ain't a democracy, and you need to make sure you are doing the right thing, not just what you think is right). Harsh words, I know, but I also had to learn the lesson, as have many others, I guess.