By Diana Maricruz Perez Santos
With the beginning of each semester, I always think about what this new start will prepare me for. As a food geek I have spent many years in school: 5 of undergraduate, 2 of master’s and 1 of PhD (I feel old right now). Many years have given me many experiences. As I look forward to this semester I am reminded of what’s happened in the past. Here are my three most memorable antics.
1. Spontaneous Generation (Undergraduate)
Who doesn’t hate to clean and sterilize the glass equipment for microbiology? I think anyone would answer yes to this question since it’s tedious and not very fun. One Friday afternoon my best friend and I wanted to go out, so we decided to keep all the petri dishes with agar in our laboratory locker. “We will clean Monday morning.” On Monday morning, nobody in the lab could understand why it was full of small flying insects. When we opened our locker, it was very similar to the scene in the movie Jumanji when all the animals came running out, except with insects. Our advisor, despite exploding with anger, didn’t punish us. We only had to clean the Petri dishes (which were full of worms). Now each semester she tells this story as an example of what not to do.
2. Robin Hood’s Exploit (Masters)
If you used to drink coffee during college, the master’s degree will surely cause you to become addicted. A common practice in laboratories is cooperating between all parties to buy coffee, sugar, and cream. One girl last year offered to go buy the ingredients for coffee. Surprisingly she bought everything higher quality for her and her friends, while for us, she bought a cheaper brand. Not cool from her. After everyone left the lab I unlocked her drawer and changed the cheap product to the containers of the expensive product and put the good stuff in cheap containers. She never knew and to this day I do not feel guilty for doing so.
3. The Prototype from Hell (PhD)
Making a prototype is always difficult. You have to challenge your skills in many fields and probably the first 10 times it will not work as you want. For my working prototype, I needed to build a temperature control and adapt it to my device. I designed it; put all the parts together, and soldered the electronics very well, but I forget to insulate the chassis to avoid creating a short circuit. At school we have a prototype lab, which is equipped with all the appropriate safety features, but I was too lazy to go to that lab. I decided for the first time to use my temperature control in the applied chemistry lab (trusting that it would work well). When I turned on the temperature control, obviously it did short circuit the lab table. I left the lab without electricity. I knew my advisor would scold me. I ran to the electrical substation to change the fuses. I thought nobody noticed the short circuit, but I did not count on the hole in the lab table going unnoticed. My advisor almost killed me! Lesson learned. The picture above shows the temperature control after the short circuit and my hurt finger. (Yep, I hurt my finger)
I hope you enjoyed these stories.
Do you have any stories of crazy academic antics to share?