Graham, L. et al.
Graduate student Kayla Pierce says her side project, which her advisor suggested would be “fun” and an “easy publication” that would “only take a few weeks,” has now blossomed into a Kafka-esque nightmare that has taken over every spare minute for the last thirteen months.
“The delays started with a few small things that we didn’t account for, like ordering specialized pipettes,” said Pierce, peering from behind a stack of data with no discernible correlation. “But then it turned out I also had to learn a completely new field of science.”
The lab procedures were another obstacle, with a single trial requiring days of prep that could be, and was, ruined with any tiny misstep. After spending several weeks on experiment prep, Pierce learned there was a machine that would have run these trials automatically. When she inquired about using the machine, she was told that the machine tech was on sabbatical until next spring.
Pierce also spent several weeks learning a new computer program in order to make a complex graph that her supervisor later deemed unnecessary.
Finally, after the latest set of inconclusive data, the side project was scrapped. Pierce says while she’s disappointed it didn’t work out, she’s excited get back to work on her actual thesis, and says that focusing on the side project for so long will only delay her graduation by a few years.