I’ve been working in a research lab in CMMT, near the Children’s Hospital, for two weeks now. I’ve not seen a lab quite as big as the Goldowitz Lab, nor quite as active and friendly. More than 20 people work for Dr. Goldowitz in one form or another: from volunteers, summer/co-op students, technicians, masters, Ph.D.s, post-docs, to research associates, and for most part of the day, around 15 of us cram into the few spaces at 4 bences.
When I first got to the lab, I was quite unsettled by the utter lack of space. The PhD student I am working with, Peter, told me that: “here usually sits Drew, here is Kevin, then I usually sit here, and then Derek usually uses this computer over here. You can squeeze in here with us I guess.” He was pointing at the same bench, where 5 guys coexist.
I quickly found out that the close proximity of lab members has quite a bit of a plus to it. Most people are very sociable; Drew and Derek are two very energetic twenty-something year olds who wouldn’t stop making jokes. The girls who hangout in the benches next to ours were also in their early twenties, so the youth-ness in this side of the lab was very enjoyable. The other side of the room sits the “big people” – the post-docs and research associates – but they are very much a part of the young gang too.
Drew and Derek brings the guys out for frisbee or basketball during lunch time almost every day, and sometimes Doug, the research associate who is 2nd in command in the Goldo lab, Anna “Poonster” Poon, and Anna S., join the regulars, the D & Ds, Kevin “Eric” Zhou, Peter, and me. I quickly got used to wearing shorts and bringing 2nd t-shirts to work.
Because everyone just chats with everyone else in the lab all day, it’s not hard to get comfortable to make new friends. I learned the tradition of “Tuesday bubble teas” before the lab meetings, the “TGIF presentation series” which stands for “Thank God It’s Friday”, and others. D & D also call out-trips to Wreck Beach and we once moved the lab meeting to lunch time and had buffet Indian food while we discussed mice sacrificing under our breath.
I found out that almost half of the lab members under 30 want to go to med school or are already accepted; Drew and I will start in UBC together in Sept., Gurj is going to England to become a Doc, and many others are taking the MCAT this summer. I also found out that the world is too small; I found out that Annie (yes, we have Anna, Anna, Annie, and Joanna), who is in the biotech program, apparently had the following conversations with Heidi, our new RC President:
Annie: “So many people in the lab are going to med school!”
Heidi: “Really? I know someone who’s going to med school too!”
Heidi: “Do you want to be RC’s Secretary?”
Annie: “What is it like?”
Heidi: “I will get info from our past secretary.”
All the while, the “past secretary”, me, had been working with Annie for a week in the lab.
It’s not just our lab that’s super fun and social; the entire CMMT research department promotes inter-lab socializing pretty well. The fore-mentioned TGIF seminars are equipped with $1 beers, for example.
For another example, we have what is called the “CMMT Cup”. Once a month, a lab can challenge the cup holder lab to a team competition, the challenge decided by the challenger. Some past challenges were: soccer, beach volley ball, Wii Sports, and poker.
This past Friday, us Goldos — apparently cup holder for 3 years — were challenged to a dodgeball tournament. And I was pretty psyched.
It was an epic. It was actually such a big deal that Derek had to remind us how much of a big deal it was:
“For the new people, you might not know this is a huge thing. I would be very upset if we don’t win.”
“So I can go all out on this?” I checked.
“Yeah totally. I know I will.”
“So it won’t be weird if I try too hard?” I double checked.
“No, just give it.”
So I went all out whipping the dodgeball at the opponents, guys and girls alike. It was very intense, and it got quite personal as the game hovers between the two labs. Very close games, and very competetive players on both sides.
The tournament was said to finish at 7:30, and we won by 1 game. But the other lab asked to play till 7:45, and at the tie breaker, we lost. 😦 And Derek tried to kick a hole in the wall.
But all in all, this was a great event. I’m sure when I go to work on Monday, the lab will feel different still, after being bonded by comradeship after that deathmatch.
photo credit: Annie Chen