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Gary in CA

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About Gary in CA

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  • Location
    LA County
  • Interests
    Science Psychology Grammar
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  1. Getting started in many research labs takes glassware. The amount of glass used in Organic is serious, less in other specialties. A new arrival should expect his bench to be stripped when he arrives. If there is anything in it at all, be grateful. If any of your lab mates donate to you, be effusively grateful. Glassware is expensive. Every single piece you obtain from the storeroom will probably be charged directly to your research account. It's easy to burn through $2-3 K per month at the storeroom. It's also hard to pay you more salary when you're busting the budget on glass. It can easily cost $10-20K to outfit a single researcher with just basics. Add in a a couple of vacuum pumps, a rotary evaporator, a couple of manifolds, a few desiccators, and the specialized glass that your particular project will require, and it could easily be much more. Breakage is inevitable. Your lab will probably have a bench located somewhere with a pile of star-cracked flasks and other pieces that aren't quite destroyed but aren't quite usable either. So will the other labs in your building. Old guy trick: Learn to repair and anneal star-cracked glassware. It is not hard. The U will have a glass shop and it is smart to make a friend there. If scientific glassblowing is offered as a course, take it. If possible, learn to repair and even build more complex tubes and flasks. But at a barest of minimums, learn to mend star cracks. A crafty grad student can build an elaborate collection of glass quickly by repairing cast offs. And a good repairman will always be in demand. It will make you an indispensable and popular member within and without your research group. I took several courses in glassblowing as an undergrad. By the third year of my PhD research, my own bench was worth in excess of $100K. I ran a part-time repair and lending service. Even other research groups would ask for help on weekends and evenings when the glass shop was closed. As a bonus, you'll make new friends outside your circle.
  2. Freaky. I check the post and get a google ad for an insurance company at the top of the page. Someone is listening.
  3. 3 months later - This lab is empty too. That's irony. • a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result swap out amusing for sad or tragic Hang in there.
  4. Necroposting on something from 3 months ago. I apologize in advance for being late, losing my wallet, running out of gas. I hate email. Seriously. Try this. Act stupid. Take the blame. Tell them both. Go to both meetings for a while. Decide which group later. Stall. If you're about to make a decision which is going affect the next 5,7,whatever years of your life, it behooves one to do it wisely. As an old man, I've learned to blame Alzheimer's or that motorcycle accident back in '70 when it's necessary. I sure wouldn't base some life changing decision on a misunderstood email.
  5. Qualifiers came before acceptance to the program. This is the time when the profs get to screw up graduate students, watch them squirm, and then act like it's no big deal. Expect to be asked questions to the limit of your knowledge and beyond, testing both your abilities to synthesize new ideas on the spot and handle stress. Just don't get too drunk and do too many stupid things after you pass.
  6. I keep thinking that I wouldn't want to be removed, unless I were sick or planning to be away at a critical time, nor would I care to be one of the others remaining if someone else were axed sans decorum. If you came to me and respectfully asked for another chance, how could I not agree? (I'd have to be awfully hard edged to hold that grudge) And if you were so fortunate to repair those lines of communication, that would be your rep.
  7. ModFuzzyL, You asked good questions and the suggestion to manage expectations is a good one also. But you didn't convince me to promote someone who hasn't yet accomplished anything. I offer you tea and the opportunity to return and state your case at a later date. Still trying to get to the OP's timecard, 5 one-hour sections and 20 hours of grading doesn't fill the week. Add in the office hours, cume prep, coursework, homework, group meetings, lit review, a lunch and dinner break and see if you can get to 60? 80? Kudos if you can do grad school on less. Internalizing, I never could. I ended up in the grad lounge for a two-hour dog nap about twice a week and never took weekends off. Holidays and summers were double-time in the lab as well. Is anyone managing to work less than 80 hours? If so, I tip my hat. "How many hours per week are you actively working??" would make a good poll question in the "expectations" department.
  8. A chemical education carries with it a certain degree of inherent danger not found in most other departments. Mistakes happen. The legal costs to defend an alleged claim can be staggering. You deserve peace of mind. Liability insurance provides protection for claims arising from personal injury and property damage. This isn't an ad. I'm selling nothing except the idea that the insurance company's best lawyers will defend you to the limit of your coverage. Any thoughts that the big U will pay a TA's medical bills or defend a TA in the event of a student accident is naive. They will cover only their own collective butts.
  9. Gary in CA

    TAing advice

    Bump about the only thread that came up in a search for "cheat" or "cheating." A TA who seeks to uncover cheaters proactively will find them regularly but end up in a whirlwind of controversy all their own.
  10. Gary in CA

    Some advice

    That could work in every department. Brilliant!
  11. Never diss Batman. Tailor the coat. Add a few patches. Get some stylish safety glasses too (colored frames? lenses? mirrored!?!) so you don't look like the students at any distance. It will be the best few dollars ever wasted.
  12. You've backed into a tough spot, but I'd never recommend removing a member. You hit on a few of the reasons already. Was that the question? We have all met people who are so prickly and difficult that no one wants to handle them. Some situations are inescapable. Far better and much easier to begin to develop skills in practical psychology, alter a communication style to fit the situation, and modify the body language. Managing human resources is more than half the job in every career.
  13. I had a Turkish Princess whose English was limited who refused to wash her lab glassware. About the only time she tried, she put a nitric acid reaction mixture into the alcoholic KOH bath and blew brown gunk up the wall, across the windows, and all over a 14 foot ceiling. Then I had a Greek post-doc who refused to dispose of her toxic waste. She ran everything down the sink with hot water and gassed the lab with pentachlorocyclopentadiene adducts, about like breathing Chlordane. My solution, using the Cypress model was to lock the Turk and the Greek in the same room and let them kill each other. Seriously? Work nights.
  14. The TA work grows much easier the 3rd, 4th, 5th time you deal with the same stuff. Seriously, you didn't accomplish any research? That isn't a good reason to move you to RA. It will be tough for the boss to take you off the U's payroll and put you on his with no track record in the lab. So I'm not going to recommend you engage in any conversation about the transition. Teach for a couple of years and get good at juggling everything at the same time, teaching, research, coursework, and reading (plus cumes? seminars? orals? group meetings?). The PI will see how much you've done and move you on his own schedule. I've got to ask a hard question. How many hours are you working?
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