We grabbed Casey, one of our Chromatography Technicians, from the lab to talk about her everyday life here at PSI. Although her routine isn’t exactly as glamorous as the NCIS series portrays it to be, she explains a little bit about her job and why she loves it so much.
Do you think anything about your job would surprise people?
I think it would surprise people to know that I spend a lot of time staring at the instruments, waiting to ensure they are performing as needed and expected. I think some people would be surprised by how often it looks like we’re not doing anything when we are actually really focused on getting tasks done.
What made you want to become a scientist?
Science has order and rules to govern it. There’s always an answer, even if you have to look for it, and it’s usually a logical answer. I like that a lot. Plus I like knowing the “why”s.
What’s a common misconception about the work you do, and why do you think that is?
Everyone in GC says this all the time but it’s true – we’re not like Abby from NCIS (unfortunately). We can’t just stick the sample in the GC or HPLC/GPC and get an answer one short montage away. We have to carefully plan, carefully prep, carefully run, and carefully analyze.
If we want an exact, accurate definite answer, we have to cautiously find quantification and detection limits. Sadly we can’t just walk up to Jason, our Chromatography Lab Manager, and say, “the sample had this” and walk away in our combat boots. Also, we can’t dress like Abby.
What’s been your favorite project at PSI so far, and why?
I really enjoy GC-FID projects because that is the instrument I am most familiar with and therefore feel most confident on. But I also enjoy doing GPC column calibration projects and GCMS screening projects.
If someone made a TV show or film about PSI, who would you want to play you, and why?
Ellen Page. We have a similar brand of snarky sarcasm and wit. And she’s short, something else we have in common.
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
My Kindle – I love my portable library. My nickname was “Kindle” throughout a study abroad program in South Africa because I always had it with me!
What do you do for fun outside of work? Does it relate to what you do during the week?
I have three horses that I spend most of my time with outside of work. I compete in Dressage and Hunter/Jumper shows, and train young horses with a friend. I also do jiujitsu and taekwondo when time allows.
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Warning: Short Fuse – may be prone to ignite quickly (and go out just as quickly)