Hello, dear readers! Welcome to my comical, albeit slightly tumultuous journey through the wondrous world of science. As an undergraduate student, my dreams of becoming a cancer researcher were as bright as the sun on a summer day. Little did I know that navigating the transitions from aspiration to accomplishment would involve a series of mishaps, errors, and a considerable amount of laughter.

My first misadventure began with the seemingly simple art of pipetting. The moment I laid my hands on that sophisticated-looking pipette, I felt like a scientist from a sci-fi movie. The feeling of power quickly turned into frustration as I managed to splash my meticulously prepared samples all over the bench. Who knew handling a pipette required ninja-level dexterity and not the heavy-handed enthusiasm of a child playing with water guns?

“embrace the blunders, cherish the laughter, and let serendipity lead the way”

Undeterred, I decided to tackle the next challenge: sample preparation for measuring the absorbance of the sample by UV-Vis spectroscopy. Armed with a heap of scientific papers, I was ready to follow the well-established protocols. Or so I thought. My first attempt at preparing the samples felt like participating in a cooking show where nothing turned out as expected. Mixing up reagents, forgetting crucial steps, and even mislabeling my samples made me question if my lab notebook was in cahoots with chaos theory. Despite my valiant efforts, the spectrophotometer refused to give me any reliable results. It seemed to have developed a mind of its own, producing readings that were more erratic than my sleep schedule during finals week. I couldn’t help but wonder if the instrument was trying to send coded messages or if it just needed a nap, much like me at that point.

With my confidence waning faster than a melting ice cream cone on a hot day, I sought refuge in the realm of cell culture preparation. As I peered into the microscope, I felt like an explorer gazing into an unknown world of microscopic wonders. But my optimistic excitement was short-lived as I found it challenging to identify the cells from the debris. Were they dancing, dividing, or playing hide-and-seek? Who knew? Every time I approached the cell culture hood, my hands seemed to transform into jittery jellyfish incapable of gentle precision. My attempts at handling those tiny culture plates reminded me of a wild dance performance where the dancers had a little too much caffeine before stepping on stage.

As my struggles in the lab became a regular comedy show for my peers, I decided to embrace the mishaps with a pinch of humour. I adorned my lab coat with badges proclaiming “Pipetting Ninja in Training” and “Cell Culture Acrobatics Expert.” My bench became a gallery of post-it notes with encouraging messages and, occasionally, doodles of confused-looking cells wearing lab goggles.

In the midst of the laughter and mishaps, something incredible happened. I began to realize that science isn’t just about the end result; it’s about the journey of discovery. And in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I discovered a newfound appreciation for the power of resilience and perseverance.

Gradually, the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. I began to pipette with more grace (less splashing, yay!), and my sample preparation skills improved, making the UV-Vis spectroscopy a little less daunting. Even the cell cultures seemed to respond to my growing confidence, showing signs of flourishing growth. I learned that science, much like life, is a rollercoaster ride. It comes with ups and downs, twists and turns, and unexpected surprises. Embracing the errors and finding humour in the mishaps became the secret sauce to keep me going.

So, to all my fellow aspiring scientists facing their own unique set of lab woes: embrace the blunders, cherish the laughter, and let serendipity lead the way. And remember, the path to becoming a cancer researcher or anything you aspire to be is never a linear journey. It’s a wild adventure filled with discoveries, failures, and laughter—Science in Motion at its finest!

About the author:

Neelabh Datta is a driven and ambitious undergraduate pursuing a degree in Biochemistry at Asutosh College (Affiliated to University of Calcutta), India. Embracing a profound fascination for the intricacies of Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, he consistently seeks to delve deeper into the wonders of these disciplines.

Of particular interest to Neelabh is the captivating realm of cancer research, where he ardently explores the connection between Molecular Biology and Cell Biology. Driven by a relentless passion to contribute to the fight against cancer, he aspires to unravel the mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis and explore potential therapeutic interventions. Through his academic journey and research endeavours, Neelabh wishes to make a meaningful impact in the on-going battle against this formidable disease.

X: @DattaNeelabh05

About this article

This is one of our shortlisted entries for the 2023 EACR Science Communication Prize on the topic of Science in Motion: Navigating Transitions. Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult and we’re delighted to be able to share our amazing shortlist.