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About SymmetryOfImperfection

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  1. he doesn't mention me by name in the email and there were tips for future directions to take the project in. I know this sounds like I'm making a big deal out of something small, but my gut feeling tells me that this isn't normal in the context of everything else. There's other things too.
  2. I am definitely going to bring this up at the next meeting. I just find it very strange that this happened. I did the bulk of the data collection and analysis for this particular project. People who weren't even on this project were included in the email; I wasn't.
  3. I just found something that changed the dynamics of the problem. I don't know what I should think at this time: I was chilling out in my office while my colleagues were reading an email. I asked "hey found any good papers?" and they said "no its just an email from the boss detailing a new direction for the project". I say "hmm I better go read it"... and it is not in my inbox. The topic of the email was very similar to the report that I had just turned in, and it was quite long. Obviously, I should not read email that was not directed to me, so I didn't see much besides the title. I don't think I can do anything since I am not even supposed to know of the existence of this email. Everyone in the group was sent a copy of this email except me. I am just disappointed that I am being excluded from the project that I am working hard on and producing data for.
  4. Thank you for the advice. I did not actually think about the fact that my advisor might think everything is going OK. I sometimes have a hard time communicating my wants and needs clearly, I guess I should make it explicit, such as by saying "Can you give me some feedback on how this project is going?" I try not to take it personally since this is the way he does it, I just wanted feedback on my work - guess I should just say so.
  5. He has almost never replied to me sending out a research report. Not even an acknowledgement of "OK, thanks" to show that he received it or read it at all. It's been going on for years. I mean, I am sort of used to it by now but it just feels terrible. It's almost as if my advisor has zero interest in my research project and is giving me the absolute minimum in feedback. I sometimes get pumped up on a new idea, design an experiment, run it, analyze the data, it takes a month... and then, I send it out, and absolute radio silence until the next group meeting, which is when the postdocs and 5th years talk. It's incredibly demotivating sometimes.
  6. There's a few problems with the equipment, once which I knew was my direct responsibility and one which I didn't (and turned out to be the bigger one). There are no direct personal safety issues resulting from my mistake. If my personal mistake was the sole problem, it would've taken half a day to fix. In the course of the repair we found another, even bigger problem which will take an additional 2-3 days and hundreds of dollars to buy parts. I have never been disciplined for unsafe lab practices before although the professor has noted that my experiments are not always well designed. The professor made these remarks because in the past week alone, 2 other people have made the same mistake I did. Definitely. Thanks for the advice. I will make sure to not argue about it and I do recognize that this mistake was a significant time sink.
  7. Is it typical for students to be kicked out for this type of mistake? I'd think that a quickly repairable equipment mistake wouldn't be a reason to be kicked out but they made it out to be like it was huge.
  8. I made a mistake with a piece of equipment. The equipment is being successfully repaired (without needing to send it out) right now, but the boss says that this is symptomatic of lack of attention and unsafe lab practice and would like to have an individual discussion with me after he returns from a conference. Does this mean that I'm going to get kicked out?
  9. Welcome to grad school and the typical graduate career path. I have friends that also didn't go to college or majored in an easy A major, making money, getting married and all that. I'm a male though, it's a bit different, but you see high school or college friends talking about their investments, spouses, family vacations, etc, and you're here wondering, what am I doing with my life? I kind of realized it's not worth it to go nuts over grad school. It is what it is, and it certainly is not supposed to define who you are as a person. If you let it define who you are, you won't like the results. What helps me is doing chores and cooking. It is very easy to become a research robot and survive on cup noodles, Cheetos and Mt. Dew. Doing chores and cooking reminds me that I am a human being. Best of luck.
  10. everything sucks. only a single experimental variable is reproducible, all other experiments failing. unable to identify why experiments are failing since intermediate steps seem to be working. slipping on cleanup. getting yelled at by the postdoc for slipping on cleanup.
  11. What IS the difference between debate and arguing? I'm always respectful to my advisor but he says I argue about my interpretation too often. I thought I was just airing my interpretation and not being pushy.
  12. Thanks for the tips guys. I spoke with some other members of the group today and it surprisingly went well. We agreed to at least do a lab cleanup and have a designated area for tool/glassware storage that deal with heavy metals.
  13. All processing of materials occurs in a closed atmosphere glovebox with an airlock. However, the precursor is transported to the box in powder form. The final films are also cut outside the box with a diamond saw. All waste is stored in a dedicated waste hood. I've been testing myself for other signs of nerve damage but those are supposed to only manifest at acute exposures. I'm buying some surgery masks today. Thanks for the tips. I've arranged a visit to the campus doctor and hope my blood tests come back negative.
  14. I work with very toxic chemicals which serve as precursors for the materials I grow in the lab. In particular, one is a bioaccumulative neurotoxin that causes nerve damage and all other sorts of nasty stuff even at extremely low concentrations. The primary forms that we are exposed to in our lab would be particulates in open air and organometallic coordination complexes in organic solvent. I have always been extremely paranoid about bioaccumulative neurotoxins, but in the past I've never felt like the research was actually a danger. Recently though, I've found my behavioral patterns changing involuntarily. I'm beginning to wake up at the slightest exposure to light in the morning, resulting in me waking up at 6 AM instead of my usual 9 AM. This has never happened before in my entire life and it's been persisting for 2 weeks, ever since I started heavily synthesizing my own samples and being in the synthesis side of the lab more. This occurs even if I sleep at 1-2 AM, which indicates to me that something has changed with my neural physiology, and is consistent with chronic exposure to a neuroactive substance. I've also started to notice a few problems related to storage and post-processing of the precursors and final samples. The professor and postdoc tell me that if we just follow standard procedure, we'll be OK. But I'm having my doubts that 1. standard procedure is enough and 2. nominal standard procedure is even being followed at all times. However, I also don't want to get my lab shut down. Here is what I currently do to minimize exposure: the minute I get home, take off ANY clothes worn to the synthesis lab after a day of synthesis. shoes left at the door after being wiped in outside grass to minimize particulate transport from lab to home. change gloves every single time I work with these substances. never touch anything in the lab without gloves or a piece of Kimwipe paper between me and whatever I'm touching. wash my hands in an outside bathroom after any time handling the chemical or anything in its proximity. However, I also do know that others in the lab do not follow these procedures and thus may be contaminating ordinary surfaces with particulates. I would like to bring up chemical safety and minimizing everyone's exposure to dangerous chemicals. Should I see a doctor about my symptoms? I'm on student insurance right now and I don't know the best way to get help. What is a good way to bring this up without assigning blame? In the meantime, what personal steps can I take to reduce exposure?
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