Question for lab-based PhD students


I've just got in to work, sat down, and realised that I don't have much to do today. This set me wondering - is this the same for most PhD students in my situation? Some days, I'm in the lab for 7-8 hours doing things, but on other days, I'll have nothing to do except feed some cells. Of course, it's not helped by the fact that there aren't any cells to do anything with at the moment because we're only just restarting after Christmas, but do you ever get days where you have very little to do?


Yep, same here, although I have plenty administrative and literature work to do instead though ;)


100% normal. that's the nature of the beast. i know at least a dozen other students that would agree


Oh yeah - I had that throughout my PhD. Probably worse actually, because I was sharing a rig with another student.

Great time to browse the internet and eat sweets. Just kidding. I mean analysing data and reading papers, obviously ;-)


Same for me too,

I have cells on the go, but they only came up from storage last week, i've plated some out to do a preliminary experiment, although the cells probably need a bit longer, so i'm currently parked on my backside doing reading. I did leave some data collected just before Christmas to analyze, that is now done though, so that's my lot for now.


Sounds exactly like my PhD routine too! I typically have to wait for cells to grow and if I dont have any ready I just end up pottering about. On these days I rypically I just stock up my lab bench, chat to labmates, browse the net, go for coffee (as well as reading papers and doing data analysis!). Though other days I am also pretty busy, like you working quite a few hours. :-)


Yeah I totally agree, a lot of my research is done using transgenic plants, tissue culture, cloning, etc, some days I find i'm crazy busy, other days I come in, look at my to do list and see "data analysis from that crappy ABA tolerance/drought tolerance/salt tolerance test or design primers or work out this reading frame for cloning" and will sit on my arse in front of the computer all day, drink coffee and eat lolly pops, and maybe have a 2 hours lunch with my lab mates for the hell of it.

Enjoy them while they are there!


Ok, I'm glad to hear all this. I don't feel quite so bad now! As you all say, it depends very much on your cells, availability of equipment, and so on. I always feel like I should be spending 8 hours a day at the bench even though, even on a really hectic day, I probably only do a total of 6 hours of actual bench work. It's just made a lot longer by waiting for things to happen and so on.

Matt = a little less stressed and guilty now :)