In my last blog, I have been writing about my first steps as an engineer in a biolab. Well, quite some time has passed since then and things have changed. In the meantime, I feel rather comfortable handling «my» cells and was able to establish a number of collaborations that keep information and inspiration (and blood) running. The path from a lab-newbie has led me all the way to conducting a large scale study in which I now handle approximately 500 samples from more than 20 donors to answer fundamental questions about the resistance of red blood cells to mechanical stresses. Collaborations play a crucial role in this process: they provide necessary input & know-how in this very interdisciplinary project, and enable access to the infrastructure necessary for conducting the various analyses. For me, the experience of discussing opportunities, pitching my project and keeping all stakeholders happy during the ongoing work is a challenging, but also very inspiring and rewarding experience. Being able to discuss matters, ask the right questions and challenge expert advice highlighted to me the progress that I had made in the last months.
Some quotes have inspired me on that way and I would like to share them with you:
“Failure is not final.” (unknown source). This may sound quite negative, but it isn’t at all – it reminded me that usually things are not as definite as they seem at first glance, usually there is a second (or nth) chance to try again, and even if it doesn’t work out within a reasonable time…worse things have happened in the world. One of my lab mates added “..and success is there waiting for you” to that quote after I had written it on our whiteboard, which I also find very encouraging.
“You’ll never overtake someone by treading in his footsteps.” (François Truffaut). This quote, in my view, boils it down just to the right point – how can we ever discover something new and exciting, if we are not brave enough to try and make one more step? This is obviously not always easy and may lead to more rounds of trial and error, but that is part of the game. The trials and errors already bring me to the last one of my favorite quotes, which is to be interpreted with a sense of humor:
„A wise man does not make all mistakes himself. He also gives others a chance.” (Winston Churchill) That said, I try to get help by experts, students or lab mates wherever possible and needed, which makes this journey more enjoyable and hopefully also more successful.