Years ago, when I was a wee graduate student, I loved going to the lab every day and getting my hands dirty. I loved DOING the science. I loved being the one who, despite all of the failures, would be the first to know when something finally *worked*. I loved the hands-on-ness of it all.
And so does my current visiting student. She is so wonderful to have with me, because in addition to being smart & talented, she just loves being at the bench. She loves it so much that, until recently, I hadn't really done a bench experiment in months.
Last week, I had collected some blood samples and was about to run my own assay. I got out some reagents and set up at the bench.
Visiting Student (VS): "What are you doing?"
Me: "Running assay X."
VS: "I can do it."
Me: "But you're busy with another experiment. I don't mind doing it."
VS (eying me as if I am a the biggest liability ever): "I will fit it in. Go sit at your desk."
She won't let me do experiments! I later asked her why she didn't want me to do any experiments, and she expressed the same opinion that I used to have: that she loves being the one who does the science.
She then went on to say that, despite wanting to go to grad school, she is pretty sure she doesn't want to continue in academia beyond the Ph.D. because she just loves doing the science so much and she can't imagine ever not being at the bench.
Being young and into the benchwork, I remember once asking my grad advisor if he missed doing experiments. His response: "Hell no." I didn't understand it at the time, but now I do. So I wonder if my student will always feel the way she does now- possessing of that unbridled passion for the pipet, that unquenchable thirst for the cell culture hood.
For now, I heartily support her in that, from atop of my paperwork-filled desk.