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You Know You’re At a University When… October 10, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in physics life.

IMG_7838I spent the last year working at a lab in France. Sure, there were students, but they were in the minority. Everyone else was a professional. And thus the dress was fairly professional – almost no tee-shirts! And the lab was devoted to particle physics – to see a biologist you had to walk across the street and into the cafeteria; the cafeteria was considered neutral ground.

Now I’m back at the University of Washington. We have 1000’s of students through our building everyday. They clearly dress differently (some of the things on tee-shirts would never be worn in a professional environment!). And I walk through and eat in a biology/genetics building every day. In fact, they have pictures of the mouse and human genome hanging on their wall (sorry, not quite high resolution enough – need to DeepZoom it).

I like both environments, but there was a reason I tried to get a job at a university rather than a particle physics laboratory. I like the variety, I like rubbing shoulders with so many other disciplines (both in physics and in general) – though I always feel like I do not have enough time to take advantage of that contact. And of course there are the students.

That isn’t to say that I really miss living in France. 🙂



1. Lisa Smith - October 10, 2008

Is this from the Genome Sciences department? I used to work over there, but I found the building pretty depressing compared to this one. (We must be talking about two different places.) I agree, universities are crackling with the energy of various disciplines, passions and pursuits (and of course the people powering these pursuits). I’ve always loved that about universities.

2. cormac O'raifeartaigh - October 13, 2008

I agree..a university is a much more interesting place for most people, whether your have a passing interest in music, literature or whatever. Sadly, the art and musics department decamped to another campus some years ago, and it is a loss all round….Cormac

3. gordonwatts - October 13, 2008

I’m not sure — that is teh new building that is across the street from the physics building (accross Pacific) – on the corner. Is that where Genome Sciences is? The building is brand-spanking-new.

Labs can be a lot of fun too, btw — especially big ones. They necessarily have a wide range of people and interestes. I’ll never forget my time at Fermilab; and there are people that would never want to be at a U (most mention not wanting to teach…).

4. Lisa Smith - October 13, 2008

Of course! Just after I left that department, the whole Genome Sciences moved from the K wing of Health Sciences to the new building. Not sure if Genetics moved with it, as that always involved more hard medicine than Genome Sciences.

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