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5 People You Will Meet in Chem Lab

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BC chapter.

As a third year chemistry major, I’ve spent my fair share of time in the undergraduate teaching labs in Merkert. Thus far, I’ve shared this experience with six different groups of people. From my observations there are five categories into which almost all my lab mates can be categorized:

1. The Klass Klutz

They never seem to know what’s going on mainly because they don’t follow the procedure, which is literally written out step-by-step by the department, and rely on what their neighbors are doing. Their experiments result in little to no yield. They’re typically the ones making a mess at their bench, breaking their glassware and bothering the stock room assistant with their frequent visits to replace equipment. They’re often the last people to leave because of the time wasted from redoing parts of the lab and replacing their equipment.

2. The Speedster

Everyone’s goal is to finish the experiment as quickly and as accurately as possible, but the speedster somehow manages to finish the experiment at a much faster pace than everyone else and gets to leave early, subjecting themselves to the envy of the rest of the lab. They’re either actually really efficient and know what they’re doing, or they’re just pretending so the rest of the class looks incompetent and foolish.

3. The TA’s pet

They’re constantly asking the TA unnecessary questions, reminding him to give quizzes, and all around trying too hard. They seem to suck up in order to get a better grade for the course, but since lab is worth one credit and has no significant weight on our GPAs it’s not worth it. Just please, for everybody’s sake, stop talking. We don’t need the extra work.

4. The TA’s Actual Favorite

While they never claim to have one, all TAs have a favorite. They’re somehow all buddy-buddy with the TA, as if they’ve known each other way before the semester started. They talk about everything, including their research and the other people that work in the graduate research labs. They’re given a little more attention, the progress of their work is always praised as being good, and they don’t get scolded when they break something. There’s just no competing with the favorite.

5. The Requirement Fulfiller

They’re only in lab because they are required either by their major or their pre-professional program, or even both. They really have no intention of pursuing a career in a lab in the future, and this one credit course is the dullest class in their already packed schedule. They seem to be going through the motions, doing the bare minimum to get through the semester with a decent grade without exuding an excessive amount of effort.

I consider these categories to be the extreme characteristics of people found in lab. Realistically, the people in lab, myself included, consist of several aspects across all five categories. Although lab seems to be a constant chore and the last thing in the world into which someone wants to devote a block of four continuous hours of potential free time every week for only one credit, I’ve met some of my closest friends in Merkert. There’s something comforting in sharing the burden of the weekly lab with other people that makes it more bearable. We become each other’s support system, celebrating every time we successfully (or not so successfully) complete an experiment.

Since I am studying chemistry, I should expect to be in lab for several hours every week. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I find the experiments to be very interesting, but they’re also so tedious. In my opinion, lab is bittersweet; I enjoy putting what I’ve learned into practice, but I definitely could do without the stress every week!


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Meghan Gibbons is a double major in Communications and Political Science in her senior year at Boston College. Although originally from New Jersey, she is a huge fan of all Boston sports! Along with her at Boston College is her identical twin, who she always enjoys playing twin pranks with. Meghan is a huge foodie, book worm and beach bum