Protocol: How To Passive-Aggressively Let Undergrads Know There Is A CORRECT Way To Take Pipette Tips From The Box

Preising, G. et al

Let’s face it: at your primarily undergraduate institution, you’re the top dog around the lab. You’re the big kahuna; the one who actually has to live with the fact that you chose to pursue academic research at the graduate level. While your PI looks down on you, those undergraduates getting their first hit of scientific research see you as a god (or at least that’s what you tell yourself, Dr. Published). And if there’s one thing that you’re not gonna let happen, it’s letting these undergrads desecrate your temple by taking pipette tips randomly from the box. Here’s how you can keep them pipetting piously: 

Positive reinforcement

Start off easy — let them know they’re doing a good job whenever they decide to take tips from the box like a normal fucking human. 

Negative reinforcement

Otherwise known as the “I’ll keep doing this until you change” technique. Try throwing a tantrum whenever they start loading a 96-well plate, and stop whenever they decide to act their age again by taking tips in a top-to-bottom left-to-right fashion. 

Positive Punishment

If the first two techniques fail, try leaving them subliminal messages. A great way to do this is by rearranging the tips in all the boxes into the shape of a frowny face; this lets them know that their substandard performance has been the most significant minor inconvenience of your day. 

Negative Punishment

If your undergrads are still effectively playing whack-a-mole when loading their micropipettes, you may have to take away something they value. Your target is their left Apple AirPod, and your ransom is some goddamn etiquette. Taking pipette tips from the box is of the most important lab commandments, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. Let your undergrads know that their spot in your “LastName et al.” must be earned!

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About Author

Gabe Preising

Gabe is a recent biology grad from Reed College who studies fish brains and networks. People have told him it's hard to tell the difference between his satirical articles and his scientific ones.

About Gabe Preising 2 Articles
Gabe is a recent biology grad from Reed College who studies fish brains and networks. People have told him it's hard to tell the difference between his satirical articles and his scientific ones.