The Genomic Repairman is currently a Ph.D. student who escaped from the deep south, and studies DNA damage and repair through biochemical and genetic approaches. He intends to use pine away about his scientific interests and rant about the things (and there are lots of them) that annoy him.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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So we've had a lab from really huge famous university that has sort of been pestering us about collaborating on a project. Their angle is they want to use a mouse model that we have developed in the lab and need our technical assistance as they are neophytes when it comes to our field and what we do. To generate some data they sent out a senior research scientist (SRS) from their lab to do some preliminary work. What did it require from us? A ton of mice and a lot of initial prep work from two of our technicians to get this off the ground. So end result the SRS was here for two days and used our technicians, mice, and supplies to do their work. Today before leaving the SRS gave us a brief seminar to our lab and others on what exactly they are doing and why they need us.
The seminar was pretty interesting, the lab's work is quite interesting and novel. At one point during the seminar she is talking about previously presenting at a conference where a room full of experts suggested for her to look at a particular protein in her samples. She had the audacity to tell us that her boss said if they are all saying to do this, then they all must be wrong! Really? You have a panel full of greybeards far more versed in this field than either you or your boss and you are going to discount what they say? The sad fact was that my PI was in that room when this point was raised and was in the room and brought up the importance of doing that work again today. To make matters worse she would actually not answer direct questions and move on. Someone had to stop her and actually mention that she did not answer their question and raise their point again.
She showed off some immunofluorescence data using an antibody from a company who I won't name but will let you know is located in Santa Cruz, CA. This particular antibody, like some of the others that they peddle is not particularly good. How do we know you ask? Simple we expressed recombinant protein and it recognizes everything but the protein. She and her boss had been informed about this lackluster antibody previously, yet you show the data and present it as if its gospel. To her chagrin, when she showed this slide the room filled with laughter as all but one of us could recollect that this antibody was crap. When suggested to stain her cells with other proteins of interest, she became argumentative and downright defensive. I surmise that she would rather waste time staining her precious samples with unreliable antibodies, when she could also quickly stain them with readily available antibodies that are well established and can provide some nice quick data. But she would have none of this. She thought that she wouldn't see anything when looking for our suggested proteins, which would actually be a big scientific finding. And I guess there is some push back as her lab is non-mechanistic and we are definitely a mechanistic lab, with some serious in-depth knowledge of what they have yet to learn. I don't know if they have tunnel vision and just can't see outside their blinders but they need are making leaps from pedestal to pedestal with no clear transition as to why. They would rather not pick off the low hanging fruit to build their story but instead leave those quick and easy experiments (they are just slight modification to what they are already doing) for dead on the side of the road. These are deep scientific waters and fast flowing at that, best to listen to us when we throw you a lifeline. After the seminar but before she left, my boss and the postdoc who works on this project took SRS into his office for a meeting to iron out the deficiencies in their work. You will not be able to ignore a question or a suggestion that is coming from the person sitting one foot in front of you making eye contact with you. I'm kind of hoping they drilled some common sense into her and eventually her boss's thick skull.
What chaps my ass is you come my institution and to my lab. You plead for our help with experiments and our expertise. Yet you are defiant and discount any suggestion or critique that we make to your work. This is not how scientific relationships are initiated or nurtured. You may be from Big Name Institution, but you are eschewing the generous advice of those that could be potentially reviewing not only your publications but your grants as well. And you can't even get this project funded, nor has your PI had a good funding track record as of late. Your lab is subsisting off of endowment money and cash from a pharmaceutical company. So please don't swan into our lab and try to tell us how the big boys do it because compared to you we do it bigger, better, with more money, and we got fucking style baby! Did you think I could go a whole blog post without profanity.
And quite frankly, we have no interest in what you are doing. We have other more immediate collaborations that we are working on with better scientists (and better people at that) that will pay off faster and with more dividends than working with you guys. You guys came here to get us on board to give you our models, reagents, and credibility so you can get your shaky work published (SRS even alluded to this) and possibly funded.
Oh and dear Senior Research Scientist, do not make a presentation wearing a darker colored bra that we can see through your sheer shirt. I try to be professional but at some point I'm going to stop staring at your boring data and bad conclusion and glance at your boobs in a moment of weakness. Hey, all men are pigs!
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Becca, my reaction was different than mine. My thought was, "Don't be ridiculous. It has nothing to do with you being a man. Anyone would have looked at the bra if you could see it through a shirt. And if it had been a man wearing a dark bra beneath a sheer shirt, I'm sure you would have looked then as well."
I mainly posted the comment because she looked ridiculous. I don't really care what you wear in the lab but if I were a PI, I'd be aghast at what she wore. This isn't going to the club, its representing your boss and your lab. And sadly her wardrobe spoke more volumes than her science.
I kind of agree with PepGiraffe, I think I probably would have clocked the dark bra myself, I'm not sure it necessarily has anything to do with being a pig/asshole. Though I can see where Becca is coming from since you did make it seem like it was more about checking out her boobs!
Sorry guys I was making a sophomoric joke, but I was trying to point out what do you want people to notice, you or your science. Sometimes a poor clothing choice for a presentation can speak volumes more than the great work you do. And that doesn't go for just girls, there was a male candidate for postdoc who gave a talk one time and he had pants so tight he must have smuggled plumbs out of the grocery store on his way to give his talk. And this was a small talk so everyone sat in the front few rows not too far from his elevated position by podium that as fate would have it put us at eye level with his junk. The guy was a great scientist and eventually got hired on but later when we told him about our protruding experience he went red faced with embarrassment and told us he shrunk his pants in the dryer.
Wrong. Sure, people notice what men wear. But they are much more likely to overlook the appearance, and not to extend those impressions to the man's science/ability. As your own example points out: "...The guy was a great scientist and eventually got hired on ....".
In the case of women, people will take their impressions of appearance and dress, and extend those to what they think about her science/work ability.
I agree that can be problem with the generalizations Nat, but I'm talking about two specific cases of dress faux pas for presenters. They guy had well thought out ideas and conveyed them to us very smoothly and was receptive to questions and suggestions. Our potential collaborator's presentation had no clear transitions, was riddles with some fallacies, and was defensive and dismissive of questions when asked about her project.
I totally agree that women get judged much more harshly than men and sadly its probably going to take a long time until we erode those prejudices.
Doesn't everyone know about Santa Crud* antibodies?
PhD lab name. My postdoc lab called them Santa Crap.
Apparently not Cath. In their defense they do have a fair amount of antibodies that work well, its just that they are hocking a whole bunch of antibodies that are unvalidated and of dubious providence.