It is quite clear that you need some scientific advice. There must be
laboratories at Duke that you could collaborate with so that you can
get the help you need. Many laboratories use the approch you have
described and should be able to give you help. I would think that the
lab head would have no objection to this as she is not experienced in
the method and also would like to see the experiments
succeed...perhaps even she could suggest who to contact locally. If
you cannot get the help you need locally, you should go someplace
where you can.
Frankly, you have to enjoy what you are doing, science is too hard
otherwise....also I hope that you are not being too hard on
yourself...if you really cannot resolve this you should make plans
to leave asap so you are ind the type of environment that you feel good
Although my lab has done similar things, it is very hard to give advice over
the network and much more useful to have a good local source
for information and support.
Resent-From: BIOSCI-REQUEST at net.bio.net
Date: Tue, 02 Jul 1996 12:00:11 -0400
From: Judy at amida.zoo.duke.edu (Judy Stone)
Resent-to: clsmith at darwin.bu.edu
X-VMS-To: IN%"womenbio at net.bio.net"
I have less than a year remaining of a Slaon/NSF postdoctoral fellowship
in molecular evolution. I have no background in molecular biology and
took the fellowship so that I could learn something new. This leads to my
problem. My sponsor is a theoretician and has little lab experience.
Also she has notoriously poor social skills. She has been very generous
with money, but otherwise a disaster -- mostly ignoring me, sometimes
giving bad advice, and the day before a grant proposal deadline asking for
all kinds of results that she never cared about before. She has even
ignored questions posed point-blank by e-mail, which is, in fact, her
preferred form of communication.
My project is floundering. I am supposed to amplify and sequence a
single-copy nuclear gene in a wild relative of tobacco, tomato, etc. I
have tried to design primers based on conserved regions of the gene in
these related species, with no luck. I know that my lab techniques and
even my primer design ore ok, since I have developed allele-specific
primers and gotten sequences for a gene that a previous postdoc found in
What should I do? The people here have been generally helpful, but no one
can give the project the kind of oversight that it needs. Also, there is
the matter of the sponsor's pride and our delicate relationship. Is there
a newsgroup on line that could help me with technical problems? My
background is so inadequate that I feel embarrassed asking for help,
because my questions seem dumb or overly complex. (Should I abandon the
PCR appraoch and create and screen a cDNA library instead?) If any of you
are willing to provide specific technical advice for me, I'd really
appreciate an e-mail.
I am changing from an independent and motivated worker to one who dreads
going to the lab each day. To make this into a general interest question,
how have people handled lack of support at the top?