Mentally Preparing for My Return to the Lab: A Grad Student’s Perspective

Today’s guest blog is written by Sophie Mancha, a global marketing intern with Promega this summer. She will be starting her 4th year as a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying pancreatic cancer.

Graduate students are used to working. Not only during regular work hours but also well into the night to finish readings or work on data analysis. Ripping graduate students away from their research as they desperately try to produce useful data may be as hard as finding toilet paper during the first few months of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. However, across the world graduate students saw their research come to a screeching halt. The pandemic took over and everyone suddenly went into quarantine.

I clearly remember my first virtual lab meeting. We all frantically tried figuring out what video-conferencing platform to use and how to share our screens. We kept repeating “stay calm” as we naively thought this would only last a couple of weeks. As the months went by, I began to panic. I realized I had finished analyzing the last remaining data I had left and was no longer being “productive”. This quickly spiraled into thoughts that I may never earn my PhD.

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Think your budget is too small to start your new lab? Well, think again.


eh62Guest blog by Joanna Stevenson, Promega AG

You are young, dynamic and full of initiative. Your dreams oscillate around setting your playground and working without being told what to do and how to do it. You think it is the only way for you to produce results that others will envy. Well, your dreams can actually come true sooner than you think— with your persistence and with a little help from the Promega New Lab Set Up Program.

Even after receiving for external funding, you probably have a few items you still need to set up your new lab. Maybe you have already established your first lab, but you need to change the location. In any case, maximize you budget and continue dreaming. It doesn’t matter if you are in the USA, Australia, Spain or Switzerland –we can help. Please visit our program at www.promega.com/newlab to find out how.

Science and the Wonderful Why

Curiosity.“Why? Why? Why?” Anyone who has been around small children has experienced the monotonous, often aggravating, seemingly endless barrage of the “W” word. Why does soap make bubbles? Why do feathers float and acorns fall to the ground? Why are baths important? Why are those flowers purple? Why can’t I be purple? Why do tigers have stripes and leopards have spots and lions don’t have anything (majestic manes not withstanding)? Why can rocks bounce (skip) off water? Why didn’t my rock bounce? Why does the plant in the window bend toward the light? Why are my eyes blue and my brother’s eyes brown?

It would seem that from a very young age people are hard wired to think like a scientist. It is not enough to simply know a feather will float slowly to the ground while the acorn will plummet, or that plants turn their leaves toward the sunlight. We want to know why.

I have watched nieces and nephews as well as my own children pass through the “Wonderful Why?” stage, and I have noticed that there is often a predictable progression to the questions: “Why do plants turn their leaves toward the light?” is quickly followed by: “How do they move their leaves to face the light?” and then “What if we took away the light?”

Ray Bradbury said,

Touch a scientist and you touch a child.

As children we are all scientists. It is just that some of us never grow up.