Saturday, March 13, 2010

Interesting Story

Last night I went out to dinner with a few friends. While waiting for a table we got a few drinks at the packed bar. As I was trying to wiggle my up to the bar for a refill, a man struck up a conversation with me, he had more than a few. After a little bit about his life he asked what I did. I told him I was a grad student and it came out I was doing HIV research. His reply was a little unexpected. He gave me a big hug and said thank you. I think this has to be the first thank you I have ever received for doing research. It was totally unexpected and I was more than little taken back. He explained how in his social network, some of his friends had tested positive. He began to tell me how he gets regularly tested and takes all the precautions he can. He recounted how nerve racking the testing processes is every single time he has it done. I tired to tell him that what I was doing was basic research and would likely not amount to much in the way of a cure or treatment. That did not curb his enthusiasm. He was very happy to meet someone that cared and was “doing something about it”

When you are a grad student locked away in a lab somewhere you are not exposed to many people like this. I think it is every easy to isolate yourself behind your bench or stacks of papers. The science is tough enough on you, but when you mix in being stereotyped as the typical egg headed, nerdy, socially awkward science guy by most outsiders and the news have more coverage vocal opponents to science than expert opinions, you sometimes get the feeling that no one appreciates or understands what millions of people around the world are doing. When I wake up tomorrow with one hour less sleep on a cold, wet, stormy Sunday, (the type one would rather lay in bed all day) to put in a full day of lab work, I just may have a little more pop in my step, or at least not hit the snooze more than once.

Maybe we need a national Hug a Scientist day.


  1. Props man. Always nice to be appreciated. keep up the hard work!

  2. Hehe, nice story. But in return please make sure that your field of research is truly something that helps the hugger and not the opposite. ;)