Kate (iluvpokeystix) wrote in gradschool_hell,

Why I hate my lab

"Why I hate my lab," a summary of my graduate career thus far in three parts.


Me: Protagonist, second-year grad student girl.
Bossman: Brilliant mind of our field, head PI of our lab, captain of the ship. Antagonist.
New guy post-doc: Post-doc that came in 9 months ago.
Former-postdoc-new-PI guy: Was previously post-doc in our lab, got a PI position in our lab. Idiot.
Girl tech: Brilliant girl with 3 years in our lab. Will someday leave to pursue a DVM/PhD.
Girl post-doc: Behavioral post-doc in her third year. Also brilliant. Also getting the f' out of here in October.
Bossmen: Other PI guys, generally helpful and intelligent in their respective niches.

Part 1:

I had this great idea last summer to look at using different adjuvants, combinations, or supplements for our vaccine to increase titers after an epic fail using an alum-based adjuvant. I said "gee, bossman, I read up about such-and-such and I think it would be an interesting idea based on how the adjuvants stimulate the immune system, etc etc." Bossman tells me, "Your idea is worthless and a waste of time. I wouldn't bother with it."

Fast forward to this morning's lab meeting, I am presenting my data about epic fail experiment and the follow-ups that we've done to it. I say "perhaps the success and failure of these is based on how the adjuvants stimulate the immune system (big explanation on our adjuvants and the different mechanisms, NLRs, TLRs, etc etc)." Bossman tells me "NO you are wrong. You obviously don't know anything about immunology." Then I find out he has given the new guy post-doc a project involving using CpG as a supplement to some of our adjuvants because WOW! it increases titers. Says Bossman to new guy post-doc "OMGZ you are the best ever, this is such a good idea! Its ok that you cant tell me anything about the immunology behind them. No big deal."


Part 2:

Two weeks ago:

Bossman and I have a meeting about a new (completely different) project (based previous grad student guy's project) I'm trying to get off the ground. I say "well here is my experimental design that you decided on, but I also think that concepts X and Y are really interesting and will also translate well to human use of our vaccine." Bossman says "Oh, very interesting. You have a valid idea here, good job." First compliment of my graduate career, which started in August 07. I write up new/interesting/valid idea into a 'part B' to the previous experiment. Bossman and I meet with the person who assisted the previous and similar project, a former post-doc and newly minted PI who couldn't tie his own shoes without the boss' permission. Bossman tells me "your experimental design is TERRIBLE and you fail at life. This isn't what I told you to do. I don't know why you want to do groups A and B, that is a bad idea, and what is this other crap? This other idea ('part B') is a waste of time and is not worth pursuing." Thirty minutes of confusion later, I explain to Bossman that whatever groups he doesn't like actually have nothing to do with my design and aren't even listed in the experiment. To which he says "Well, your other idea is crap." He then tells me "we are going to meet with the other bossmen, the former-post-doc-new-PI, and new guy post-doc about your project."

... Err, new guy post-doc has nothing to do with my project. He doesn't do the assay I'm using, he doesn't use the type of animals I am using, uses a different vaccine, and he has no idea what my project is even about. Why do I need his advice on my project?

... New guy post-doc is now a part of everybody's projects (we have fifteen people) regardless of whether or not he is actually doing the work, just so he can get his name on all of the papers that come out. This is not his idea. Guess who's idea this is? Bossman is trying to fill up a CV for new guy post-doc so he can have the faculty position within our lab that has been open for six months. Nevermind girl post-doc that's put out ten papers in the last 14 months including two reviews, has three years of post-doc under her belt, and has been scrabbling for the open position. Girl post-doc even wrote her own R01, to which bossman replied "you should write yourself in as a post-doc for your five year grant." How many post-docs have their own R01s... in our field, none.

Part 3:

We also have a girl tech who has done ALL of former-post-doc-new-PI's behavior work. Girl tech is wise. Girl tech knows all. I tell bossman that girl tech is going to teach me the behavioral assay used in previous grad student guy's project. Bossman tells me "No, former-post-doc-new-PI will teach that to you. I'm sure girl tech doesn't even know how to do that assay." Former-post-doc squirms in his chair and gulps. Not that girl tech hasn't been doing former-post-doc guy's work for the past three years or anything... Not that she isn't designing his poster for Big International Conference of our Field (and subsequently will not have her name attached to it)...

I can't figure out if my PI thinks I'm worthless because I am female or because I am a graduate student. But either option makes me want to jump out of my 9th story window here. Also, I like new post-doc guy. He is a nice, normal person with a good sense of humor. But I'm having a hard time directing my ire away from him.

Also, it wasn't this shit-tastic when I joined. Either that or I was seriously duped.


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