Regarding the ups and downs of graduate school and the struggle to maintain a life (is that allowed?) outside of the lab.
Monday, August 31, 2009
So, I just got back from another failed attempt to get work done at the shared facility where I'm trying to make some samples. This morning I checked the facility website before taking off to ensure that the tool I needed was up and running. It was! And, it was in use. Great! So, I packed up, headed in, and when I got to the tool I was immediately faced with a malfunction. I checked with two other users who were nearby, and both were as baffled as I was. So, I called the tool manager. His response: "Yeah, that happened to me this morning when I tried to use the tool. I was hoping it would just go away." You were hoping it would just go away?! "You're best bet," he tells me "is to log out of the tool, file an incident report, and leave it to us to look into later." REALLY? I'm not usually the type to say this sort of thing, but do your job!!! At a facility like this, a tool manager's main responsibilities are to keep his/her tools online and to train new users and help troubleshoot when they run into problems. To me, it is absolutely unacceptable that a tool manager would encounter a problem, not report it so that users (from all over the country, mind you) would be aware of the issue and could plan according, and then continue to in fact ignore the problem. My husband has worked at a few other facilities of this type and assured me when I started that this one was by far the most well-maintained and well-staffed. I'd hate to see the other facilities he's worked at, because my experience has been pretty frustrating and unsatisfying.
I am a female graduate student in physics in my last year (I hope!) of a PhD program. My research focus is biophysics and the group I belong to is interdisciplinary, with students from both the biological and physical sciences. My life is also an interdisciplinary adventure, as I struggle to successfully balance my roles as student, wife, homeowner, dog owner, and member of a large and close-knit, though wide-spread, extended family.