Thursday, March 12, 2009

When You Got It, Flaunt It

I have noticed that many scientists keep well defined boundaries between their personal and professional lives. Some are particular about not talking about their family, and one might not even know if they are married or whether they have kids. This might lead to a respectable professional facade, but might not be sending the right message to aspiring scientists. The image they are sending is that there is no success in science unless work is your life, which should not be the case. I fear that many aspiring scientists abandon their career choice because of the lack of role models that show them that it is possible, although not easy, to bake their cake and eat it too.

I have found many posts in the blog wide world of scientists blurring the line between career and family, and I believe it is the right message to send. A well rounded individual should not forfeit one aspect of their well being over others. Moreover, life is complicated and most of the time beyond one's control. It would be enlightening for students to see that even with a complicated life, their professors still manage to get the work done (and by the deadlines).

I never kept my personal life a secret, and maybe I have paid a high price for that sometimes. However, I hope that I'm setting a good example to the students in my building with the little merging of personal/professional things I do on a regular basis...
  • I gave seminars & journal club while sporting very large pregnancy bellies. Work was a welcome distraction and I worked as long as I could health-wise. I even showed off my hard-to-find maternity labcoat. I attended seminars regularly, even the ones in nearby buildings. I cherished the smiles and chuckled with the "I thought you'd have popped by now" comments.
  • I'm the one who brings her kids to lab & department social gatherings unless they explicitly say no children. We take our kids everywhere and that is why we hear so many people say they are well behaved. However, I once took a baby to a dinner with an invited speaker, which was a bit of a distraction when you are trying to talk science. (Somehow the fact that the baby is there makes people want to talk about family instead... all barriers break loose...)
  • I'm the one pushing the stroller and totting an almost 3 year old into the department on a Saturday to do little things in lab that will make my week run smoother. If you ask me where their Dada is I'll tell you I'm giving him a 3 hour window to clean the house without distractions.
  • I have walked around the department every day for almost a year with the black bag and a heavy duty, bright orange, 10 ft extension cord. If you ask me what I'm doing, I'll tell you it's my milk pump, that I am heading for the ladies room with the couch and that I need the cord because the outlet is at the other side of the room.
It's the little things that blur the line between the personal & professional, and sends the message that scientists are people too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Fair Labby [UPDATED]

Wouldn't It be Loverly?

It's rather fun right now, can't think about Paree.
The PI will be startin' up
A project jamboree.
No chance I'll be allowed a break to go an' pee!

Mmmm, Mmmm, wouldn't it be loverly?

All I want is a bench somewhere,
Far away from the lab in there.
Don't even need a chair,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?
Lots of mutants for me to seq',
Lots of time on FPLC.
Me gels, me blots, me reads,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?

Aow, so loverly sittin' abso-fuckin'-lutely still.
I would never grudge if spring
Crept over me windowsill.
No one's 'ead peakin' o'er me,
Peace an' quiet as one can be.
'ho cares to go with me,
Aow, wouldn't it be loverly?

Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly

UPDATE: After Professor Anonymous' wonderful version of Grease, I decided to add the video for sound effects:

This version has Julie Andrews' voice dubbing Audrey Hepburn, which I thought was a great addition...