Friday, January 15, 2010

My Shitty Project

For somebody who whines a lot about ethical problems in the field of life sciences, I sure have surprised myself over the past few months. I never ever thought I would join a lab that had animal work, not even for a rotation. But here I am, after having done a rotation for 8 weeks with rats and mice, moving on to my next rotation, again with rats. And my kill score? Well, so far I haven't killed any all by myself. But I played a major major role in the sacrificing of 10 rats and 12 mice. If you think that's a lot of animals for just a rotation, you should hear some other stories from people in the field!

But for some strange reason, I've been attracted towards a neuroscience world. I had promised myself to stay away from anything glamourous or cliched in the field of life sciences, simply because I wanted to walk on the road less travelled and feel good about being different. I get pissed when somebody asks me what I do and then say, "Oh yeah, everybody is doing that now a days". But somehow, despite it being a glamourous field, I just went towards neuroscience like iron to a magnet! My work in these labs in a nutshell? In the previous lab, I was getting rats addicted to morphine and now in this lab, I deal cocaine to rats. No, I am not turning towards the dark world of drug dealing or doing drugs. Quite the opposite actually. I was studying the effects of addiction on nerve generation in the brain earlier and now I am studying why relapse rates are as high as 90% in cocaine addicts trying to go clean.

Here are some day to day, non-glamourous happenings in a addiction study lab

- I have rats pee and poop all over me every single day

- Evening showers are more meaningful now. I come back smelling like rat poop

- I have rats trying to bite me everyday because they know that I am the girl who takes them away from the cocaine

- I get super annoyed anytime somebody asks me, "so what if a drug addict joins the lab in order to try and steal some cocaine or whatever drugs you have in lab?". Probably I find it frustrating that I don't have a satisfactory answer to that.

- I spend a lot of time cleaning the rat cages each day after the experiments. Maybe I am ready to have a cat or a dog and to clean up after them!

- I don't think I will get a cat or a dog anytime soon because I am too busy taking care of my pet rats in lab. I'm a good master. I keep them happy by dealing drugs to them :-/ :-/

- Its sad to see a rat begging you for more drugs. Yes, rats get addicted too.

- Cocaine addicted rats are violent while morphine addicted rats are just... well... high... interesting difference in drug effects

- I've stopped asking for "coke" in cafeterias. It just seems wrong. I have started asking for "regular coke" instead. Come to think of it, that's also kinda disturbing

All in all, I have a pretty shitty project, in a literal sense, 16 rats pooping on me each day.

And I've never felt so satisfied about my work :D


Clueless said...

And now swearing by saying "Rats!" is going to take on a whole new meaning too! :D

I'm glad you're having fun in your project, even if it is non-glamourous and glamourous at the same time!

doublehead said...

I know many colleagues who start very fashionable/glamorous projects and produce shitty/ugly results. That is no good, they do not contribute an iota of new knowledge to science. Even if you do an unusual/road less travelled kind of project it is better to look for results that are unusual/unconventional and contribute new knowledge to science. Science not only involves fancy projects, but needs innovative and unconventional thinking of even ordinary / off the mill projects. So don't call yours' a shitty project, just promise that you won't produce shitty results for the sake of results like those who enter into fancy projects for the sake of working on fancy projects and produce shitty results. Think in unconventional manner, question existing ideas and knowledge, challange yourself to come up with something new, something extraordinary. Now that is fanciful scientific research