08 November 2013

Rich with science.

During my graduate studies, I shared the lab with a Chinese postdoc who was an expert at fluorescent in vitro hybridization (FISH). He spent hours at the lab bench and in front of the microscope, attempting to capture the perfect images of chromosomes with important portions of the genome highlighted in glowing dyes (you can see some of his beautiful pictures here). On productive days, he would report back to our advisor by saying "I am rich with chromosomes!" 

I wasn't alone in thinking that an odd turn of phrase, but it seemed such a beautiful way to think about science. Materials which allow accumulation of data and results are indeed worthy of excitement. Lately, as I traverse the boggy grounds of job applications, I find myself sinking down into uncertainty and dissatisfaction as my own scientific bean counting fails to match up to my peers: not enough papers, not enough grants, not enough "deliverables" to show my scientific prowess. 

Occasionally, I just take a deep breath, step back, and think about my favorite parts of my personal scientific process: kicking around wacky ideas about "big picture" science, thinking up ways to tackle interesting research questions, outlining papers before buckling down to write. Those times are my happiest at work, when I feel like I make real progress. 

In reality, I am very lucky and very intellectually "wealthy." I am rich with data. I am rich with ideas. I am rich in the currency of science that is most satisfying to me.

1 comment:

Dustin Mayfield said...

I want to be plant scientist