Courtesy of Robert Nakamoto

Robert Nakamoto (front and center), assistant professor of molecular biology at the University of Virginia Medical School, celebrates the cultural differences of his multinational lab members.

A US university postdoc loses track of a cuvette and spews invectives at a Chinese coworker. That night the Chinese colleague, quaking in an apartment, tearfully telephones the principal investigator. Would the postdoc attack with a gun, as seen on so many US television programs?

A PI assigns an Armenian man and a Russian woman to a project. Before a day passes, she declares she won't work with her Armenian partner. The frustrated PI finally convinces her that in America "we all work together," and the battle ends.

The names of these combatants have been withheld, but their stories, though extreme, exemplify the conflicts that can arise in life science laboratories peopled...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?