Debbie Knight

New faculty member perhaps a bit short-sighted?

In observation on October 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Overheard in the hallway between a new faculty member and a student:
“I don’t like to work with volunteers in my lab.”

Wow. I’m sure glad that Dr. K didn’t feel that way when I asked him if he could use a student volunteer in his lab.

I was just starting my junior year at PurdueUniversity, majoring in biology. I would tell my friends that I wanted to “do research” but I had little idea what that meant.

One of my friends strongly encouraged me to find a lab in which to work. And by “strongly encouraged,” I mean shoved.

Looking back, I thank Chris for his tough love because it got me my start in a research career. But at the time, my timid undergraduate self did not appreciate it so much.

I remember meeting with Dr. K in his office, quivering in my Reeboks. One of his office doors opened to the lab and I couldn’t help but gawk.

This was the first time I had ever seen a functioning research lab.  Everything was new and wondrous. From jumble of pipes and nozzles jutting from the polished black soapstone benches to the array of strange glassware that lined the shelves, I was instantly awed by the thought that “science” happened here.

I’m glad that he was  open to a student volunteer. An extra set of hands in a lab with limited funding.  While it would cost him (and his graduate student) the time to train me, it turned out to be a good investment. I came to realize that I loved working in a research lab and he got free labor.

When summer came, he hired me as a part-time student research assistant. I continued to work in his lab even after I graduated with a bachelor degree. He then hired me as a full-time technician.

So, I think this new faculty member might be a bit shortsighted by not allowing volunteers to work in his lab.

You never know where it might lead.


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