Top 10 Most Hated Lab Tasks
Emily Crow is a freelance scientific editor and the founder of Science Traduite, a French to English service specifically for life science researchers. She has a PhD in Moelcular Biology from Northwestern University and a BA in French from Wheaton College.
Following closely on the heels of Cristy’s article “How to Clean a Waterbath”, I’d like to take a moment to rant about a few other hated (and carefully avoided) lab tasks. Here are my top ten LEAST favorite things to do in the lab:
- Cleaning out the vacuum trap – truly gag-worthy…you never know what your colleagues have been sucking up in there.
- Defrosting the -20°C freezer – it’s slow, it’s messy, and you’ll just have to do it all over again in a month or two.
- Defrosting the -80°C freezer – even worse, due to the possibility of accidentally freezing body parts to the inside of the freezer, or losing a finger to frostbite.
- Filling the liquid nitrogen tank – I always feel like I’m taking my life in my hands when I do this! Something that is so dangerous shouldn’t slosh so much, you know?
- Updating the chemical inventory – this would be so much easier if you just updated it every time you ordered a chemical, but when has that ever happened?
- Annotating plasmid maps – carefully piecing together the sequence for the clone you just made sometimes seems like it takes even longer than making the clone itself!
- Making competent cells – the centrifugations, the aliquoting, stressing out over sterile technique…it doesn’t get any better than this!
- Aliquoting – competent cells, antibodies, dNTPs…just about anything, really.
- Making up 10M HCl or NaOH stocks for adjusting the pH of solutions – scary scary scary.
- Racking pipette tips – have you ever been in a lab cheap enough to buy loose pipette tips that need to be individually inserted into the tip boxes before autoclaving? A sure-fire way to drive your summer student crazy.
What's YOUR most hated lab task?