Anyone else ever feel incompetent? In a switch from my inner monologue influencing how I feel, yesterday Advisor* actually said that I need to start making less mistakes.
The worst part is that he is right. I did screw up a project that has put us at least two weeks behind. In my defense, though, this delay has not been entirely my fault. The the arrival of the kit that is necessary for this project has been delayed by a week due to some administrative screw ups policy. Plus, my undergrad's project isn't working. It should be fairly easy and I've watched her go through the protocol. However, the results still come out... well... puzzling at best.
Then, the other undergrad that I'm working with (the one that doesn't have a firm grasp on basic biology, let along biochemistry) doesn't seem to be making much progress. The biggest problem that I'm having with her is that she seems to suffer from short term memory loss. For instance: last week she could not remember the spin time or rpm for a protocol she was following. Not so bad, right? The problem was that she looked it up in the protocol book and couldn't remember it by the time she crossed the room. Again, not so bad, right? It happens to us all. However, it rarely happens ten times in a row! The best part (note the sarcasm) was that Advisor was standing right there. I'm sure that made me look amazing.
I hate this feeling. I like to be able to fix things, but right now I can't. I've got to wait for the kit to come in. (It really is necessary... the only other way to do this requires about a month. The kit only takes three days.) Plus, I'm uncertain as to how to help my undergrads. The first one, well, I think it may be a problem with the reagents. One of the reagents in the buffer she uses is rather volatile and I don't think she knows how to check to make sure it's there; it should smell horribly. (Hey! This blog is already useful... I just thought about this!) The other, the one with the short-term memory loss, I have no idea what to do to help her. Maybe I should just have her carry around a notepad and transcribe everything? Most of all, I have no idea how to stop making mistakes!
*In all fairness, Advisor said this to everyone in the lab. Apparently, it isn't just me. The senior grad student in my lab just made a mistake that will delay his graduation by a month. And that appears to be what set Advisor off.