Ned Shaw

Omar Ahmed, a Sussex, UK-based researcher, describes a labmate who possesses a greater flair for ending Ahmed's sanity than for eradicating disease. "He hoards solvents and glassware, walks around like he owns the place, and often wanders around the lab singing," Ahmed says. "The singing really bothers me. He seriously thinks he's Frank Sinatra."

The absence of suits and dearth of cubicles as hiding places can create an informal work environment in the lab. With collaboration often necessary, labmates packed into close quarters can provide a sense of community. But such coziness may result in clashes with colleagues, and consequently make the lab an unpleasant place. Michael Silverman, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, summarized some of these problems in his "Annoying Colleague Haiku": "Fatuous, inert / mooch my precious reagents / tenured, ossified."

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