2018: Back to the lab

Published January 01 2018

Hey there, grad students. Hope you had a wonderful winter break — eating, drinking, sleeping late, catching up on all those Netflix shows. But now it’s over. And here you are at the bench again. Ouch. How do you climb back on that horse? As a public service, we offer 15 do's and don'ts for your first day back to lab in 2018.

Gather that mental strength from the holiday break to analyze the Excel file with 2,000 rows of data and 38 tabs.
Assume the lab elves have completed your analysis.




Talk to your PI/advisor about your project’s progress.
Put that discussion off until your parents are planning your graduation party.




Check if your cells are still alive before subjecting them to your experiments.
Use that yeast plate from two weeks ago without checking. It could be making beer by now. (Mmmmm … beer.)




Clean out your email inbox, saving any messages from biotech companies offering free 2018 calendars.
Delete all unread messages from the holidays. Think of all those beautiful fluorescent cell images!




Talk science with other disciplines.
Retreat back to your department when that voice in your head says, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”




Use the new laptop you got during the holiday sales before your spilled coffee breaks the space bar, again.
Use your new drone to deliver glove boxes to the neighboring labs.




Practice explaining your research to a nonscientific audience. (Click here)
Get frustrated when people ask you why they don’t have a clone of themselves yet.




Practice the new breathing exercises you learned while dealing with the holiday family stress.
Plan your revenge on that aunt who exclaimed loudly at the holiday party that she couldn’t believe you still haven’t graduated.




Take down the Star Trek-themed holiday lab decorations.
Hang all the lab decorations around your own desk in a desperate attempt to relive the holidays.




Reflect on whether your family actually understood your explanation about your research project. (See No. 7.)
Send them scientific reviews and papers for “light reading,” assuming they are now experts in your field (unless they actually are).




Plan for life after you complete your degree.
Plan to become a professional student. That 401K isn’t going to appear by magic. (See No. 1.)




Bring desserts and treats from your travels to share with the lab.
Bring the leftover eggnog to share with the lab.




Look for professional development opportunities (Click here).
Neglect opportunities to socialize with multicellular organisms outside of the lab.




Find a constructive/silly hobby to give your brain a break.
Become a petri dish zombie.




Start writing that review you were supposed to have finished by the end of 2017.
Think about how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve already broken.

Daniel Pham Daniel Pham is the public affairs manager at the ASBMB.

André Porter Andrè Porter is the science policy analyst in the public affairs department at the ASBMB.