One of the many reasons for a complete lack of posts lately has been the addition of two summer students to our lab. They are both aspiring vets, participating in programs that offer, among other things, the opportunity to learn what it's like to be a research scientist. The Boss, in his infinite wisdom, decided that they will be my charges, which I was actually really excited about. It seemed like such a wonderful challenge, to get to teach them the ways of a lab, design a research project, provide them with an interesting summer experience. I hope I succeeded at least on some level. The first week we spent acquainting them with the lab and their projects. By the end of that week I was hoarse from so much talking and completely exhausted. The second week they started their projects. This was an interesting time because the personalities of both students really emerged as they began to work.
The first, whom I shall call Paige, is endlessly inquisitive, full of confidence and little attention to detail. By the end of the first week she had explored most of the town, made friends with a bunch of people, plunged head first into her research, and made innumerable mistakes. I was so exasperated with her because she just did not seem to listen to what I was telling her, always coming up with her own way of doing something, which I generally encourage, but which did not always produce good results. She has subdivided her work flow in a way that concerns me, but I am hopeful that it will produce an abundance of results in time for her deadline.
The second student, whom I will call Mary, is a skinny studious girl, hard working to a point of making me worry about her health and mental well being. She is careful, deliberate, thoughtful and cautious. Despite her best efforts however, her first weeks were inexplicably marked by constant spills and mistakes. To be fair, I think this is a perfectly normal state of affairs, and Mary was simply diligent enough to notice and report her mistakes while Paige just missed them. Most unfairly, Mary's program is much more demanding in out-of-lab activities, and her in-lab project is substantial. Combine that with her careful methodology, and she is lagging a little behind schedule.
We are now approaching the end of their programs. I think the first week of August will be the time for presenting and saying good-bye. For my part I really enjoyed the experience, and I think highly of both girls, different as they are, but both very motivated and hard working in their own ways. They almost remind me of myself and different stages of my life. Mary is the way I was in college, workaholic and neurotic, and Paige is more like I am now, careless and perpetually late. But I am glad that both girls have more ambition than me and I think they will both do well in their future studies, and I hope that I added to their knowledge in some small way.