Banned From The Lab: Diary From A Quarantined Scientist

Clemente, E.C. et al.

Day -1*

Right, we close down tomorrow, so I gotta grab all the “data” so I can work from home – although why the lab should close down in the first place is beyond me! Surely my very specific research on a very narrow sub-discipline that is vaguely health related should be considered “in the immediate national interest”?

*Yes, scientists sometimes arbitrarily decide where t=0 is, and then proceed to attribute a negative value to anything before that, in what can only be described as a fulfilment of the childish need to defy the laws of the very nature they study.

Day 1

Or is it Day 0? Anyway, working from home (WFH) is great. I love WFH. And overusing acronyms. WFH truly is amazing. I can get up one hour later than I usually do and still make it to the lab, I mean, make it to my desk earlier than the usual time!

Day 5

WFH is great! I love WFH! WFH truly is amazing! If I set my alarm to the usual time and send a cheeky email to my boss to pretend I’m awake, I can then go back to sleep and get up anytime! My right thumb has been acting up though – it must be having withdrawal symptoms from the lack of pipetting…

Day 12

WFH sucks. I miss my cells… I bet they miss me too. Do they? Maybe they’ll never forgive me after I split them a day later than I should have, just because I was careless and didn’t go in that Sunday. How could I have thought that a “weekend away for my 5th wedding anniversary” was a good enough excuse… Why was I so careless?! What if, when I bring them back to life, from sub-sub-zero temperatures, they all hate me?!

Day 17

Today, I have started to wrap myself in white blankets to recreate a lab coat. This has brought some peace to my otherwise troubled soul.

Day 26

The cold, dark two-photon microscope room suddenly appears comfortable. I long to be there.

Day 29

I haven’t had water in 10,080 minutes. It is simply unbearable to pour myself such imprecise volumes of fluids. Sadly this also excludes alcoholic spirits, which would come in handy during these difficult times. I now buy vodka strictly for the aroma, as it brings back fond memories of the cell culture room. I buy beers, rums and whiskeys to remind me of LB broth, Rosé wine for it’s cell culture medium appearance, and milk to mimic Western blot blocking solution. I am fine.

Day 9

Wait what? Day 9??!! But we were on Day 29 just yesterday! Fourteen years of training on how to keep a perfect log of everything I did, didn’t do, almost did and wish I’d done and time went backwards?! Did I dream those few weeks?

Alright, come on, just try to remember what you did during that time… Nope, it’s useless, like when you forget to get the timer going and try to guess how long your samples have been incubating for. Oh god how long have I been inside?

Day 10 And Beyond

Screw this, what’s on Netflix?

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About Author

Elisa Couto Clemente

Elisa is a Neuroscience PhD student based in London. She loves all things science and is also passionate about science communication. Elisa prefers drowning her PhD sorrows with laughter rather than alcohol, and has performed stand-up comedy at the Bloomsbury Festival and at the Science Museum Lates in London.

About Elisa Couto Clemente 5 Articles
Elisa is a Neuroscience PhD student based in London. She loves all things science and is also passionate about science communication. Elisa prefers drowning her PhD sorrows with laughter rather than alcohol, and has performed stand-up comedy at the Bloomsbury Festival and at the Science Museum Lates in London.