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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Since I'll be out for next week's theme day I'm posting mine early so I can somewhat try to defend my bad behavior.
No this isn't some post about Pete Carroll talking about former USC running back Reggie Bush forfeiting the Heisman Trophy, this is about mentorship. So I am going to talk to you about three different mentoring styles that have come from four people one of them being myself. So lets hit the ground running folks.
1. Undergrad mentor... This harkens back to days on yonder where the Genomic Repairman had braces in college, couldn't get laid and had to settle for studying and getting drunk instead. So back then my mentor at a SLAC was a young female TT professor hired on after a year or two of teaching as a visiting Asst. Prof. Her mentorship was erratic to say the least. She had too many irons and the fire and spent more time chatting up with students in her office about their personal lives more than working. I was in the back trying to set up equipment and experiments with little to no guidance yet would get a proper bollocking if anything was done slightly wrong. She would go from quite nice to hyper critical and irritable in the drop of a hat. Presentations were required to be rehearsed in front of her at least five times in a row in which you would be dressed down. At one of these rehearsals was the straw that broke the camel's back. She lit into me about a chemical structure that had a carbon atom with five bonds, pondering aloud how I could have done well in O-Chem and made a dunce-like mistake as this. This was when I informed her that she emailed me the image of the structure and I inserted it into the powerpoint. She snapped and said she "would never make such an idiotic mistake" and that I must have somehow made this egregious error. At this point putting up with six months of this bullshit (including 3 months of full time summer research) was all I could take, I drop my papers on the ground told her to go fuck herself and walked out of the lecture room. The look on her face is askin to this...
About a week later I got a phone call back from her pleading for me to come back as the rest of her students followed suit shortly after I did. The most productive time in this lab was after the other students quit on her again and I was left to work alone in the lab while she was out on maternity leave. And sadly she took all of my work with the exception of one piece and published it as her own without giving credit or acknowledging my efforts. But this world is a balanced place and for everything bad that happens, so does something good. She got denied tenure.
2. MS Mentor. So flash forward a year and a half past undergrad and you come to find Genomic Repairman 2.0, the grad school version. PS, the braces are off and am now stuck in a shitty two and half year relationship, so I'm still not getting laid. So I end up in the lab of a nice guy but a not so good mentor. Our lab is small, consisting of a clinical resident, slack-fucking-ass lab manager, and myself. Surgery resident spends more time aliquoting hair gel than samples and lab manager is content to play on iPhone and refuses to order necessary supplies until they are exhausted. To call my PI a mentor at this point is nothing but a fucking joke. The guy gives me work to do, I am able to do this stuff based on techniques I already know (cloning, cell culture, etc.) or can pick up from others (qPCR, assays, etc.). My relationship with my PI at this time consists of him stopping by at the beginning of the week asking me to do certain experiments, I do them, send him the data and my analysis and we never speak of this. And the following week begins just like this one has. He asks me for lit searches which I do but we never discuss. There is no formal lab meeting, we rarely sit down to discuss strategy and the big picture of the lab. One day I arrive in lab to find out that I have been assigned a med student and an undergrad to mentor for a while. Dude never said a fucking word. Undergrad turns out to be a stud and we make great progress together while the med student is a dud who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut and acted in a very domineering fashion. The undergrad was a pleasure to mentor for a few weeks, the med student not so much. This mentorship arrangement ends when during one of those rare lab meeting where the med student initiates a fist fight with me for calling his analysis of qPCR data wrong. The royal rumble in the small conference room ends with resident and PI pulling me off of med student as I am choking him with his tie by yanking it one hand and punching the shit out of him with the other while the lab manager is still playing on their iPhone. The med student was later dismissed from school for another subsequent physical outburst. (Note I may speak of hypothetical violence but I never ever fight. I think dating back to elementary school this was like the third fight I had ever been in). Boss man starts to realize that he needs to get in the game and become a boss and starts off on the right foot. We start meeting once a week to discuss results, any new literature, where we are in the grand scheme of things. Everything is looking good. Nope dude gets hit by a fucking car when he is supposed to be writing my letters of recommendation for PhD programs. So for about a five month period I ran the lab. I shit you not, I ordered supplies, did experiments, and made revisions to two manuscripts that would eventually get published while my boss was in the hospital. The department chair was a swell motherfucker and gave me all the support I needed and I was able to get my grad school applications in on time. The trick was that the clinical resident signed off on my letters of recommendation so I was technically getting recommendations from the guy who was working below me. I know dirty trick, but hey sue me. I ended up getting accepted to all my schools except for one, fuck you Duke. Then I had to make the choice that if I wanted to stay with my mentor at the current institution for my Ph.D. Based upon his poor mentoring and erratic behavior I declined this option and went elsewhere instead. This was also fortuitous for me because my boss ended up getting fired due to the department took a shift in the focus of research and also that the guy in charge of research for the department hated my boss like they used to date and now he doesn't call anymore.
3. Ph.D. Mentor. Turn the clock forward three months. I'm now in a proper lab with a proper mentor. We began meeting once a week for a one on one journal club for the first three months in the lab. He continues to meet with every trainee privately once a week. I am given phenomenal mentoring and over time he has become more and more hands off where each week I show him my data, we chat about my conclusions and listens to what I'm going to do next. I am encouraged to help review manuscripts with and for him as well as contribute to grant applications. He is not even my only mentor in the lab I have a fantastic pair of postdocs to turn for advice and technical help. This is a man who you would rather slit your wrists than disappoint him, not for fear but for the fact that he is a caring and dedicating man. He will rape and pillage to get you what you need whether it is equipment or tearing through bullshit red tape to make something happen. All he wants you to do in return is work hard for him. And we do. As quirky as he can be he is definitely the best mentor that I have ever had. Oh and I'm getting married on Friday so there goes getting laid except for holidays and birthdays. This fucking tax deduction better be worth it.
4. The mentor is I. So I have had the opportunity to mentor a few students, including one this past summer. We shall call her Genomic RepairGirl (GRG) for what is left of the rest of this post. In 10 weeks I took shy GRG and turned her into a confident little badass labthug who can run westerns start to finish, manage up to eight different cell lines at a time, do transfections, RT-PCR, cloning, and be able to understand and interpret qPCR data. I specifically asked for her out of a list that was predominantly male because I hear people talk all the time about promoting women in science and thought well its time to shit or get off the pot. My goal was to take this bright young girl who thought her career options ended at going to tech school and becoming a nurse's aide to now making her interested in the field of pharmacology and helping her to jump straight into a lab when she goes to undergrad now that she wants to. It broke my heart the first day when she said she might be nurse's aide because that might be all she was good at. Then I got angry and said aloud, "Fuck that, you can do anything you want. If you want to be a nurse's aide that's fine you can be but how dare you limit your damn choices in life when you have so much of it left in front of you." (I know cursing in front of kids is not cool, but STFU, I've got to capture their attention to make my point you fucking prat.) Next I handed her the pipet and told her to do my experiment and I would coach her through it. I told her that if I could do it, she could do it to. And she did. And she was able to do everything else from there on too. She asked if she could come back to my lab next summer and I flatly refused her. The reason why, science is too big and too vast to just toil in my sandbox when there are so many other interesting ones. I mean would it have been to my benefit to have her back? Hell yeah, I trained GRG up to be an asset to me and she would be if she had stayed but it wasn't fair for her for me to hold her back. So I lined up a few pharmacology labs for her to go shadow to see if that was what she liked and am helping her set up another internship in another lab for next summer.
So there are your four mentorship stories. Take em, leave em, just stay the hell off my lawn.
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This fucking tax deduction better be worth it.
But marriage has many real benefits.
Dude, I've already lost the wedding band a couple of times and I haven't been even given it proper. Once in between the couch cushions and another time I dropped it on the floor and almost sucked it up with the vacuum.
You must have girly piano fingers, GR.
Overlord, sadly they are more akin to stumpy troll-like fingers.
Sounds like you're a pretty good mentor, keep it up and hopefully the world will gain another good PI! They're one in a million!
Enjoy your wedding, it's the best piss up you'll ever have, I had the worst hangover I think I've ever had the day after my wedding, sign of a good night! All the best!