Category Archives: Singing

What if science were all rainbows and sparkling neutral*?

Some of my friends spent their long August bank holiday weekend in the lab. (Luckily, nobody from my lab – I was in on Tuesday and the place was dead even then!) Some of them took the opportunity to have a bit of a holiday. Me? I went to BABS Harmony College.

No, really. Think “band camp” but for barbershop. Yes, it’s a real thing. Yes, I am aware this sounds like the least cool thing ever – and I’m a scientist. I wasn’t cool to begin with. As it happens, it was just about the most fun I’ve had in the whole of 2012. (Yes, more fun than an impromptu 2 weeks in Copenhagen for work. Yes, more fun than learning twisting somersaults. Trust me, I really enjoyed this).

Anyway, this is a biology blog right – so why am I talking about barbershop?

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Lab fright, and how to fight it

If you have happened to glance at the About page, you’ll know that when the baking biologist isn’t doing biology or baking, she also sings. What you might not know is that when she sings she gets major stage fright. Those who are not involved in any kind of performing arts might not have ever experienced stage fright. It’s not about being scared. It’s about the racing pulse, the sweating palms, the ringing in your ears as the panic rises…

But on a stage is not the only place the baking biologist gets stage fright: she gets it in the lab too.

When I walk into the lab there is sometimes a little voice that tells me You don’t belong here. It’s one part a Professor with a very dry sense of humour, who was single handedly responsible for me dropping molecular biology after first year (only to decide when I graduated that I wanted to do a genetics PhD….) It is one part a real badgerwaffle of a scientist that I had to work with after graduating, who went as far as telling me to do things wrongly just so he could enjoy watching me screw up. But though there are specific reasons that lab work unnerves me I don’t think I’m alone in finding a molecular biology lab a scary place to be, and I don’t think I’m the only one whose imposter syndrome stretches to the bench.  Continue reading