The other day, a colleague from another company in our building stopped in looking for a lab coat. We knew this guy was a biologist and so were a little surprised. Most biologists don’t wear lab coats. Actually, most chemists don’t either. Maybe he was doing that rare thing where something icky, or caustic, might splash on him. We asked him what he was up to.
“Photo shoot for some funding agency…”
Ahhh. Of course, the dreaded photo shoot. The bane of lab workers because the photographers and the Powers That Be often want shots of dedicated scientists working hard in the lab doing important research. The problem is that to photographers and PTB research isn’t very photogenic. It’s full of little gray tubes, plastic bottles with label tape, cluttered benches and populated by folks in jeans and t-shirts (my lab wear of choice). The verdict being that it looks: a) visually boring and b) vaguely unprofessional.
So you get something like this:
Now what’s wrong with that picture, you ask? Let’s see…
1. No. There are NO graduated cylinders, flasks or bottles of clear, brightly colored liquids. As much fun as science can be, we are not coloring eggs here.
2. Gloves. Gloves you wear to be sterile (she’s at a bench, so pffft on that), or to keep something from splashing on your hands. I'm pretty sure that little piece of plant isn’t going to spill.
3. Safety goggles. Is she expecting that plant to explode?
4. See number 1 and geez, if you’re going to go the whole “colored solution” angle, can’t you even spring for a different color?
5. Raise your hand if you think a mirrored lab bench is a good idea.
6. Nice 1970s era molecular model. This doesn’t make you look smart, it makes you look outdated. Or at least get a DNA double-helix or something because I'm pretty sure that's table salt (NaCl).
7. Good idea having all that extra glassware in your way on your bench. Because it could never get knocked over and break. Maybe that’s why she's wearing the goggles.
8. The lab coat. Of course. Everyone wears one. All the time. Worst lab cliché ever.
9. C’mon! The girl is at least potentially attractive, but does the dude have to be dumpy and sport those sideburns?
At least there’s not a pocket protector in sight.