I started working in a biology lab about a year ago and realized quite a few things while I learnt the ropes. Here they are in no particular order.
- You go through a lot of pipette tips and latex gloves thereby generating a lot of non-biodegradable waste. So yeah, research does not always help the world, sometimes it just generates new trash.
- You run out of good clothes because almost all of them have bleach stains on them. And of course, that's because you're too lazy to put on a lab coat.
- You develop a bit of an OCD coz' you're constantly worried that you didn't turn on the shaker, or left your bacteria plate in the incubator for too long or left the gas on, etc. I can actually list a whole page of stuff I worry about long after I've left for home. :P
- Bacterial contamination can ruin your experiments and make you lose a day and sometimes more.
- Tiny tubes of 40 micro-liters of enzyme cost over USD 200. That sure seems like a lot of money!
- You have to make media and do the dishes from time to time. Those are like two restaurant jobs that you're now eligible for. :P
- You always underestimate the time it takes to do something in the lab. You think you'll finish something in 10 minutes, but it ends up taking at least half an hour. And, every single task scales like that!
- Time and schedule is everything when working with living organisms. So, your life revolves around the lifespan of organisms so tiny that they are visible only under a microscope.
- Some of the repetitive steps of experiments are so boring you wish you had a robot to do it. But, will you be out of a job if that happens, you wonder. :P Anyway, you are grateful every time you work on some computational project and get a break from these.
- Sometimes the experiment doesn't work even when you've done the exact same steps that made it work the last time. And, it gets very hard to decode this black box. Then, you just hit repeat and start over. :P