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Reasons Why My Experiment Failed #7 - "Food Offense"

Posted by Christian Miller on Jan 10, 2017 2:50:41 PM

There are many reasons why an experiment doesn't work.

Accidentally committing a food offense should not be one of them

Food Offense Definition: a situation where the actions of one member of the laboratory leads to the disruption of the work of other members of the laboratory.

Make sure to order Tonbo Biosciences reagents, or you might fall victim of a food offense.


Submitted by Author


A technique for stress reduction in the laboratory

Maintaining positive interactions between laboratory personnel is a crucial aspect of managing a laboratory.   As laboratories become more crowded, personality conflicts invariably arise and when they do, the entire laboratory can suffer from the increased stress and tension that may occur.  I report here a novel and unique method for reducing stress in the laboratory.  This method, termed a FOOD OFFENSE, has been utilized by my laboratory for a number of years and has proven successful in defusing the occasional stressful laboratory incident.  Here I update it for the 21st century.

A FOOD OFFENSE is defined as being a situation where the actions of one member of the laboratory leads to the disruption of the work of other members of the laboratory.  While there may be a strong debate regarding whether or not a specific act is a FOOD OFFENSE, a majority vote in the lab is sufficient to declare a FOOD OFFENSE.  Examples of FOOD OFFENSES are as follows:

  1. Using up a common reagent (e.g. washing buffer) and not remaking it before the next person needs it.
  2. Leaving common equipment (e.g. tissue culture hood) so messy that the next user must clean it before it can be used.
  3. Using isotope and not recording its' removal such that the next user winds up not having as much as expected.
  4. Stripping a blot for someone but forgetting about it such that the blot burns after the buffer boils away (this actually happened).
  5. Providing the wrong restriction map with any plasmid (or not providing any restriction map at all).
  6. Tearing a journal article out of a journal before anyone else has read it.
  7. Providing the wrong gene identifiers for newest microarray chip.
  8. Scheduling a lab meeting but forgetting to show up despite the fact everyone else managed to remember.
  9. Neglecting to tell the lab that the cell line you work with is mycoplasma contaminated.
  10. Starting a gel for someone but plugging the electrodes in backwards.
  11. Forgetting to turn off a gel for someone.
  12. Spilling radioisotope and not cleaning it up (a MAJOR FOOD OFFENSE).
  13. Leaving a big, heavy rotor in a centrifuge when you know the next person to use it is 5’ 2” tall, weighs 90 pounds and needs the smaller rotor.
  14. Breaking any piece of equipment and not telling anyone.

When a FOOD OFFENSE is committed and the individual is identified, the individual is given two options:

Option #1. Start looking for another job.

Option #2. Bring in food for the lab.

Since choice #2 is the preferred response, the type of food which satisfies a FOOD OFFENSE is somewhat restricted.  The rules are as follows:

  1. Homemade food, preferably containing chocolate, is desirable but not absolutely required.
  2. Certain foods, such as Vegemite from Australia or gefilte fish, do not satisfy a food offense.
  3. Healthy foods might qualify but only if they taste like something fattening.
  4. Trying a recipe for the first time should generally be avoided unless you are absolutely sure it is wonderful.

There are a few additional rules that apply to a FOOD OFFENSE.

  1. New students are exempt for the first two weeks in the lab as they are generally expected to mess something up.
  2. FOOD OFFENSES only apply to incidents where other lab members are affected. If you use up the isotope but no one else in the lab uses it, that is not a FOOD OFFENSE.
  3. No one is exempt from FOOD OFFENSES, including the Head of the lab.
  4. Poverty cannot be claimed as a reason to avoid providing food. A dozen doughnuts will not break anyone.
  5. The person who commits the FOOD OFFENSE is allowed to partake in the eating. In fact, one might well be wary of food that is avoided by the individual who provided it.
  6. One cannot prepay FOOD OFFENSES. However any food brought for the lab is always welcome.
  7. If the FOOD OFFENSE payment is really bad, the individual committing the FOOD OFFENSE should be required to try again.

Finally, if your laboratory has any individuals who commit FOOD OFFENSES but absolutely refuse to cooperate, it might be well to invoke option #1.  Anyone who cares so little about the other members of a laboratory and constantly creates stressful situations is probably more trouble than they are worth and might be better off somewhere else.

I wish to acknowledge all the past and present members of my laboratory who have cooperated fully with me in reducing stress and tension in the lab.  However I cannot imagine that I could have ever committed any of the FOOD OFFENSES that I have been charged with.


Download your own copy of "The Food Offense"

We'd love to hear from you! Leave us comments on the food offenses that have taken place in your lab!


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Topics: Reasons Why Fail

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