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November 13, 2006
The Race Is On
Friday afternoon was quite strange. There had been another meeting to explain to people what the timetable would be to close down the site, but I left during its question-and-answer period. . .to go and set up an experiment. A half an hour later, colleagues of mine from down the hall were coming back from the main auditorium, talking among themselves about job searching and severance, and staring at me in disbelief as they walked past my lab bench.
You see, if I'm going to get a good publication out of my idea, I'm going to need some more data. For one thing, I need to go back and run some of the things I've already done, but this time at least in triplicate, so I can plot the data with error bars. Before I was running in duplicate, trying to save some of the harder-to-obtain reagents for later experiments, but that's not going to be an issue now. Inside of a couple of weeks, there aren't going to be any more experiments to run, because we're going to be shutting down the labs.
In addition to the repeats, I'm going back to my main sequence and setting up some new experiments which will help support my conclusions in a paper. Friday afternoon's run was a large one in that category, and (needless to say) it had better work. I'm not going to get much time to troubleshoot. I had been working on a different series of compounds, but there's not going to be time to finish that area, so it has to be thrown over the side.
So there I was, using some pipets that were left over when the company laid off a hallway full of biologists two years ago. I have no idea who the equipment I'm using belonged to, but I knew everyone over there. And the vials I set up went into a plastic rack, which is still labeled with the name of a lab associate who was let go about a year ago when another hallway was cleared out. I'm using reagents from projects that have been told to stop, trying to generate data before the analytical lab has to shut down. No wonder people were looking at me as if I'd lost my mind - if I had the time, I'd stop and stare, too.
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