Crisis of schooling


#1

I hate school. I really do, besides the boring financial reasons and the lack of caring from the teachers, I feel that the course I’m taking isn’t ethical. We’re splicing DNA into E. coli to give it some property (haven’t fully read the lab yet). The prof says it happens in nature, but making E. coli glow flourescent does not happen in nature. I feel ethically and morally appalled by this but can’t miss the class or I will fail. On top of that, dropping out is not an option as DH angrily put it this morning. I just hate being in such a bind. I don’t know what to do…


#2

[quote=sarcophagus]I hate school. I really do, besides the boring financial reasons and the lack of caring from the teachers, I feel that the course I’m taking isn’t ethical. We’re splicing DNA into E. coli to give it some property (haven’t fully read the lab yet). The prof says it happens in nature, but making E. coli glow flourescent does not happen in nature. I feel ethically and morally appalled by this but can’t miss the class or I will fail. On top of that, dropping out is not an option as DH angrily put it this morning. I just hate being in such a bind. I don’t know what to do…
[/quote]

This sounds like my job. It’s called molecular biology. Without it we would have little to no medical research, few reliable drugs, etc. Unless you’re cloning animals or dealing with embryonic stem cells, I wouldn’t worry about the ethics. I’m sorry that you feel appalled by it, but if you are planning a career in the biological sciences, I can guarantee that you will soon be more appalled by sacking a group of lab mice after their experimental tumors have gotten too large, or by the preserved cat you will likely have to dissect in anatomy lab (unless you take human anatomy, then it will be a cadaver).

Yes, plasmids (small circular DNA constructs) do occur in nature. The reason that this particular plasmid has a code for green fluorescence (probably eGFP, that’s pretty common) is so that the positive bacteria, those which have taken up the plasmid into their own DNA, can be easily identified under a fluorescent scope. The eGFP isn’t harmful to the bacterium, and will not affect its function other than to cause it to produce the protein.

Did you know that some cells autofluoresce anyway? I run a piece of equipment called a flow cytometer. This machine takes cells that I have tagged with fluorescent-dye-linked antibodies to specific proteins, fires them past a series of lasers, and detects the emission wavelengths from each cell. If it detects a large emission at the expected wavelength for the dye used, then the cell is considered positive for the protein in question. As a negative control, I often run completely unstained cells through the machine. There’s always a low level of fluorescence that I have to adjust for.

Before you drop out, fully read the lab packet. If you are still appalled, I would suggest- and this is coming from someone who has a BS in biochemistry, 4.5 years of molecular biology/immunology lab experience, and who will be entering an Immunology Ph.D. program in the fall- that you find another career path. There is neither fame nor money in science, unless you’re one of the very lucky few. There is often little reward in the field- more stuff goes wrong than right sometimes, and research funding is becoming harder and harder to obtain. If you don’t absolutely love it, you will be miserable.


#3

[quote=SeekerJen]Before you drop out, fully read the lab packet. If you are still appalled, I would suggest- and this is coming from someone who has a BS in biochemistry, 4.5 years of molecular biology/immunology lab experience, and who will be entering an Immunology Ph.D. program in the fall- that you find another career path. There is neither fame nor money in science, unless you’re one of the very lucky few. There is often little reward in the field- more stuff goes wrong than right sometimes, and research funding is becoming harder and harder to obtain. If you don’t absolutely love it, you will be miserable.
[/quote]

Yes. The experiment you are describing is in no way immoral. If the lab work gets you bent out of shape instead of excited, don’t go into a laboratory field. If experiments that require doing “artificial” things to the “natural” world are repulsive to you, stay out of science and medicine. Stay way out. Some people aren’t cut out for it, their imagination just works in a different direction. That’s nothing against you. Eyes aren’t noses.

If, on the other hand, this lab is part of a required course for a different career path, a career that will let you be paid to do things that you are good at and like doing, then hang in there. There are few places worth going in life that don’t have some rather crummy sections of highway somewhere along the way. If you have very little idea whether you are cut out for what you’re grooming yourself to do, make the effort to find out. You’re spending too much of your money and your life to buy a pig in a poke.

BTW, as a control experiment: ask yourself, of all the challenging things you have actually done, rather than those you have dreamt of doing, what would make you happy right now? Not much? You may just be feeling the effects of a personal rough spot. I don’t mean “just” lightly, as if it won’t be a trial to cope with it. I mean that, with help, you probably can deal with it for a certain amount of time.

Which brings me to your teachers. If by “lack of caring”, you mean that you have real needs that they aren’t meeting, keep in mind that real needs on your part does not imply that they are the ones that should or even can meet them. College students are grown-ups, and grown-ups take the initiative when it comes to their own care. If you’re too worn out or stressed out to do that, it is the counselling office, not your professors, that you should be turning to first.

If, OTOH, you mean that your instructors are mailing in their effort as educators, that their teaching is stale and widely found by your classmates to be non-engaging, you may need to do some faculty research for next term, or even consider transferring to a different place.

Hang in there, and good luck. Be a floater, not a sinker. You can do it!


#4

[quote=sarcophagus] I hate school.
[/quote]

This issue must be separated out from the rest. Why is it that you hate school? Do you hate your major? Would you rather be doing something else, like full-time wife/mother, working, etc? Do you just need a break or a change of majors, or are you set against school?

[quote=sarcophagus] I really do, besides the boring financial reasons and the lack of caring from the teachers, I feel that the course I’m taking isn’t ethical.
[/quote]

You clearly dislike school, and I encourage you to deal with that issue, perhaps seeking career counseling.

[quote=sarcophagus] We’re splicing DNA into E. coli to give it some property (haven’t fully read the lab yet). The prof says it happens in nature, but making E. coli glow flourescent does not happen in nature. I feel ethically and morally appalled by this but can’t miss the class or I will fail.
[/quote]

This is not unethical. Perhaps you are using this class as an excuse, a reason, to dislike school but I don’t think it is the source of your issue.

[quote=sarcophagus] On top of that, dropping out is not an option as DH angrily put it this morning. I just hate being in such a bind. I don’t know what to do…
[/quote]

And, why is it “not an option”? Continuing on a path you dislike is “not an option” in my book. However, it’s up to you to do something constructive about it. Look for career counseling, a job, or a new major.

Is the bind financial? Make a plan to get out of it, make your plans so that by X date you can quit, restructure, etc. Give yourself a timeline and set your goals so that you can reach them.


#5

Thanks everyone…so maybe splicing DNA into a plasmid isn’t unethical, I guess my position is. If I raise an ehtical concern in class, I usually get mocked fo saying it. But yes, the major issue is that i hate school. I’d rather have children, but DH doesn’t want them so I have nothing else better to do. I guess its easier to say that its the norm in both my family and his (expected even) to go to college, establish a career and have kids when your 30. I don’t want that but like i said, i’ve got nothing else better to do with my time…


#6

[quote=sarcophagus]Thanks everyone…so maybe splicing DNA into a plasmid isn’t unethical, I guess my position is. If I raise an ehtical concern in class, I usually get mocked fo saying it. But yes, the major issue is that i hate school. I’d rather have children, but DH doesn’t want them so I have nothing else better to do. I guess its easier to say that its the norm in both my family and his (expected even) to go to college, establish a career and have kids when your 30. I don’t want that but like i said, i’ve got nothing else better to do with my time…
[/quote]

You sell yourself short-- if you are not interested in school or a professional career, you can do some very meaningful work in the community as a volunteer. Crisis pregnancy centers need volunteers, as do a host of other church organizations.

Your real issue is not school. It’s your marriage. School is just the symptom.

I would suggest you get some Catholic counseling for you and your husband since you are on totally different pages regarding your marriage, your vision of family, and expectations in the relationship.


#7

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