It’s funny when I think about lab meetings. If one plotted the amount of effort put into each one, there would be a definitive downward trend over time. Therefore, last week when I had my first lab meeting in my new lab, I was operating at maximum [lab meeting] effort. During the process of completing a PhD, one becomes an expert not only on the subject matter but also on how to present it effectively and lab meetings can be pulled together from existing slides at a moment’s notice. It had been a long time since I’d had to construct one from scratch and as I sat going over all my microscopy I imagined the response to my presentation and my hours of effort:
The stunned silence as the magnitude of what I have said and what I am about to undertake sinks in with all those present. Everyone lets out the breath that they were unaware they had even been holding. An incredulous look around the room to see if everyone else heard what they just did. I am, just for a moment, worried that it will not be well received. Then, the Slow Clap. One lab member dazedly rises to their feet and begins to clap their hands, slowly, rhythmically. Another lab members stands and joins, then another, and another, until the whole lab is standing and the clapping crescendos into a cacophony of applause! Some of the more sensitive members may even wipe a tear from their eye as I slowly make my way around the room, shaking hands, receiving well deserved pats on the back. Perhaps a few see fit to hoist me to their shoulders and carry me out of the room chanting my name with joyous exuberance, exalting me in the name of the science that is yet to come….
Well, things don’t always go quite as we imagine them and the next morning presented a different the reality after my lab meeting as I fielded my first question:
“Does anyone even care about this disease anymore? We’ve had a vaccine for years. I wouldn’t think you could even get funding for it.”
Yup, everything is going exactly according to plan. This postdoc is going to work out juuuuuuuuuuust fine.