• AC Schwulst

The most underappreciated and most valuable asset as a scientist.

Some of you probably thought this would be a post about funding or a really cool piece of equipment that you would get to use as a scientist. However, there is something far more valuable that only a select few get to experience.



You might have heard about this concept of a work wife. If not, let me just explain a little bit more before I continue. A work wife, is not only a lab partner, or a friend, or just a colleague that you have lunch with. No, a true work wife is all of that combined and plus some.

You see, from my personal experience, my work wife is my best friend, my teacher, my support structure and so much more. I have left the laboratory where I was based for the previous three years and in the last 8 months, the only person that has made an effort from that laboratory to stay in contact has been my work wife. We were in a lab of +/- 20 students and when we were all there, we all got a long really well. But now, I can see that we were only friends because we saw each other 5 times a week.


Now onto why your work wife will be your most valuable asset.


While at ‘work’, your work wife is the person that you first look out for in the mornings to see how they are. My work wife and I, would always get to the lab by 6:30 the latest. This allowed us to start on our work early and have a good chat before carrying on with the day. During the day, if one of us needed help, the other was more than happy to lend a helping hand and on many occasions, we would plan our experiments together to get more work done, this was beneficial to both of us in terms of getting work done and having time to chat. When you need a short break in between working, your work wife is almost always there to have a break with you.


When the dreaded deadlines for results, abstracts or funding came around, your work wife is the one sitting by your side helping you to finish off an experiment or presentation, edit down your abstract to the word limit (without you missing the point of your findings) or completely making it sound like your project is the one that should be funded.


In the science world, A LOT of editing happens and sometimes you just need a fresh set of eyes to pick up on the little mistakes, the first person that comes to mind will be your work wife. Not only do they understand your project just as well as you do, they have developed a knack to knowing what you are trying to say. This is a pleasant back and forth system that helps you to limit the number of edits you receive from your supervisor.

After work and on weekends, your work wife and you will meet up for dinner, a fun run or just a shopping trip. There will always be a short time set aside for complaining about the lab, but from there on, it is just the two of you building and developing your friendship to a deeper level.


Since we are in the world of science, we understand that not everything will go according to plan and often your personal life and work life collide. Working from both directions, your work wife will always be there to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or just a pair of ears to listen to you. They will be there supporting you and advising you (if they can) and will make the whole situation just feel a lot better and let you know that you are not alone. Your work wife will help you to not let your personal life affect your work and will be an amazing support during and after the situation is resolved.

Now the true value of your work wife you discover only after you both have left the lab and are on separate paths. It does not matter that you are no longer in the same lab, you're still supporting each other on your individual paths and are still in contact.

All I want to say is: Thank you to my work wife!


May each of you someday discover this most valuable and underappreciated asset.

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