Monday, July 13, 2009

Update: Lab Wars

I have a new Twitter account, and due to that and the unfolding lab drama I haven't been posting here as often as I would like. Lab-wise, up to now, I have been able to avoid getting into the petty lab war currently going on.
After the first, open phase of Lab War, I made the point to stay far away from Lab War conversations by anyone involved. My theory that the war started by a failure to communicate properly about a collaborative project still stood, so I don't necessarily think anyone is on the right.
Despite the warnings not to go to the next groupmeeting, given by RA2, I went. I expected him to bash the guys involved, certainly, but I didn't expect him to appropriate basically all the projects in the lab - including my thesis project.
This was a low blow. Up to this point I hadn't had any problem with RA2. Au contraire, he has always been very kind and respectful towards all the women in the lab. So I went out to have a really good lunch, some awesome blueberry vodka with champagne, and some venting time away from all the other people pissed off about the meeting.
Mid twitter venting- by this time I was having a sangria in some other place- my boss emails me to go talk to him. Damn. I calm down as best I can and head back to the lab.
The boss agreed that what RA2 had done over groupmeeting was wrong and over the top, and promised to talk to the guy about it.
Then on Saturday, when I came over to do some benchwork, RA2 showed up to talk to me. He apologized if he had 'hurt my feelings' (my feelings? WTF? That has nothing to do with anything!). I listened for about an hour, trying to make him understand that I just needed to have my part of the project to myself without him going paranoid over people 'stealing his projects' and/or taking advantage of him.
I told him that the umbrella project that has my thesis project, as well as a lot of other projects was not clearly divided by our PI. I told him I wasn't upset at him, just upset there weren't some clear boundaries between the different projects to allow us to work without stepping in each other's toes, and that it was our PI's responsibility to place those boundaries.
The conversation with him made me realize that, regardless of how things have actually happened, RA2 feels that a lot of the projects of the lab work thanks to him and people don't give him enough credit. He also thinks that basically all the projects with my protein - with the exception of the electrophysiology studies- are his. And no matter how you broach the matter, as I later learned from another of the female grads that had also talked to him that day, he would not change his mind.
This meant that somehow I had to get my professor to set boundaries in the project without upsetting RA2. Regardless of people's personalities I have to collaborate with lab members on both sides of the Lab War, and I rather work on good terms with people.

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