Silent No More

Silent No More Thanks so much for your editorial1 on lab techs! As a lab rat, menial, lab slave, etc. for 20 years, I got incredibly tired of the demeaning attitudes by the supposedly better-educated grad students, postdocs, and professors. I was always professional in my work and gave 200% at all times. I can't tell you how many times [that I] or my other lab techs saved their butts when they would mess up an experiment or even worse, a clinical sample. I was once even nearly killed when a

Jul 28, 2003
Martha Hunt

Silent No More

Thanks so much for your editorial1 on lab techs! As a lab rat, menial, lab slave, etc. for 20 years, I got incredibly tired of the demeaning attitudes by the supposedly better-educated grad students, postdocs, and professors. I was always professional in my work and gave 200% at all times. I can't tell you how many times [that I] or my other lab techs saved their butts when they would mess up an experiment or even worse, a clinical sample. I was once even nearly killed when a grad student blew up an oven because he wanted to dry off the ether from his assay faster! When I was laid off from my last job, no one got paid, as the 'menial' wasn't there anymore to hand in time sheets. Oops!

We are the heart of the lab. We keep people civil. We are the keepers of the long-term memory. We are the troubleshooters. We are a team, or at least in theory. The people in power, the professors, etc., need to take a look around and put their egos aside for a bit to see who really is on the team and not. When I was laid off from my last job, I left science forever. There were many reasons, but mainly it was because at age 43, I had enough of the disrespect that went with being a lab tech. I was a highly trained lab manager with 20 years in clinical genetics, and it was time to move beyond the dysfunction. I hope your editorial reaches even a handful of professors, postdocs, and grad students and strikes a chord with them to treat others with respect.

Martha Hunt, MA
Naval Hospital 29 Palms
29 Palms, Calif.
m.hunt@nhtp.med.navy.mil

***

Thank you for your editorial on technicians vs. postdocs.1 It's about time that was said. Two other reasons why postdocs can get bitchy are that: (1) technicians sometimes make more money than postdocs (at least in the United States), and (2) technician positions often come with retirement benefits (currently an employee contribution of 5% with matching employee contributions of 8-9% at the University of Pennsylvania), whereas postdocs don't.

Cameron N. Johnstone, PhD
Department of Medicine,
Gastroenterology Division
University of Pennsylvania
cameronj@mail.med.upenn.edu


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