Oct 252016
happy Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and it’s time for undergraduates around the world to cross their fingers, attend parties and hope someone gets drunk enough to kiss them on the lips and smush their genitals against theirs (stay safe). Of course, you can increase your chances of awkward genital fusion by spending a couple of days fabricating elaborate costumes to make you stand out from the crowd or you can follow my suggestions, below, and achieve the same result way easier.

Here are some easy to implement costume ideas that are guaranteed (word used in the same manner a cheap hygiene product uses it) to scare the shit out of any scientists in the room…oh, spooky.


Sexy Anonymous Reviewer

The Sexy Anonymous Reviewer is feared by every scientist, who doesn’t have an editor friend, at some point. The worst combination of opinionated, anonymous and sexy you’ll ever come across.

The costume:

fat suitblack morph suit opinion speech bubble black mini skirtred pen red wine glass


How to really pull off the character:

You’ll enter the room and hide at the edges. Every so often run into the middle of the room and write something mean on the table and demand that people to cite your work/papers to be allowed to go to the bathroom.

The Australian Government’s Sexy Commitment to Science

You are now a pile of meaningless words and awards nights. The Australian government is happy to tell scientists what they want to hear: “you’re the disruptors of the universe“, “science is important to the economy”, “science will make Australia the innovation nation”.  If you are doubting the governments commitment to science – here’s a shiny award.

The costume:

man and woman in a suitword cloudblack mini skirttrophies for people

How to really pull off the character:

Print of a massive version of the word cloud and staple it to your chest. Tell people everything they want to hear: “That’s a nice jumper, Terry”, “Your husband is definitely not having an affair, Donna”,  “We are committed to the ongoing funding of science” – you don’t have to mean a word of it and it is actually better if it’s all lies. If you feel like people are starting to not like you, think of your excellent job conditions and pension. Anyway, the next mob’ll deal with the actual problems.

Sexy Funding Outcomes

This spooky time of year nicely lines up with the scariest part of the year for many scientists. It’s the time of the year where outcomes of a number of important funding schemes, from various government funding bodies, are announced. Contract researchers from all over Australia are anxiously awaiting an unknown date to find out if they’ll be (un)employed for the next 1,2,3,4 years.

The costume:

clock with no hands    strange man in question suit  black mini skirtRejected stamp

How to really pull off the character:

You have to make everyone around you feel anxious. It’s easy to achieve. Say you’ve had a serious bout of gastro and then put your fingers on everything, cough on people and say that the voices in your head are nice today. Also, every time you mention time give an approximate answer, no more precise than the unit of months, for example, “What time will I be able to know if the project proposal that I spent the last 6 months working on and I’m relying on to feed my family is successful?”


Sexy Science Job Market

With science in Australia “booming” according to Malcolm Turnbull’s mum and favourite auntie. This costume is sure to scare every scientist in the room. You are the oversupply of highly qualified people with nowhere to go, well…except abroad (how’s your German?).

The costume:

black mini skirt  Graph of no hope for scientists

How to really pull off the character:

Sit in the corner and cry.

homer sitting in the corner and crying

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Oct 182016
Poop pillow shapes like an emoji

Just like every job in life, science relies on people talking to each other while struggling to uphold the unwritten code of professional etiquette. This means you’re not allowed to openly call the other person a “self-serving fucktard”, but you are allowed to think it and smile whilst imagining what it would look like if you set their hair alight and put it out with vomit.

In no other part of science is this unwritten code tested to its limits than between a supervisor and “their” student/postdoc/lab monkey. At the beginning of a science career, supervisors appear to be all-knowing, Qantas Club frequenting, vessels of facts and knowledge. After a couple of years of working under their guidance it becomes apparent that, for the most part, they are just better practiced at sounding like they know what they are talking about while having no real understanding of where the lab is and how long it takes to do that “quick experiment”. Looking deep into their eyes will reveal self-doubt and panic also found just before trusting a fart during a bout of food poisoning.

Just below the surface of every demanding supervisor is an overworked and love-poor shell of a person who can’t remember what it is like to have someone say “well done”. Here are some excellent ways to ensure that your non-sexual (hopefully) relationship with different types of supervisors is in tip top shape.

The control freak

This supervisor is fucking insane. It’ll get to the point where you start to suspect that if they hadn’t done science they’d be a serial killer. You’ll receive emails about work stuff at 2 am and they’ll expect you to do the same – don’t. They’ll want to know the intimate details of everything you have done, will do and are thinking about doing. Remind this supervisor that you are not them by wearing a mask of their face and removing it in front of them. This way they’ll see that you are a completely different person (NOTE: Do not attempt if you look like your supervisor).

Mr/Ms hands off

You have to be the psycho ex-partner in this relationship. Hassle them every day, night and afternoon. Don’t expect that paper draft you’ve given them to be taken home or even leave their desk. If you want something done, conduct a quiet but firm protest in their office until it is done – they will lie about having plans to complete the task. This supervisor doesn’t want anything to do with you or your project but gets a kick from telling their friends they have students.

Tired international traveler

Be prepared to conduct your student-supervisor relationship over email. The good thing is, just like an intimate internet relationship, you can lie about how much you care about your own personal hygiene. A mix with one of the previous two types can be a disaster waiting to happen. To ensure smooth sailing with this type of supervisor, email regularly and make the most of their time in the department. Having a second supervisor that is scared of air travel will also help.

The one who is as surprised as you that they are a supervisor

This supervisor is one of the lucky ones. They are the product of right-place, right-time career success and know it. This person will be the very best of what a supervisor can be as they genuinely sense the looming University restructure and need you on their side. Sometimes this supervisor can be a little too friendly, the result of a recent divorce and youth spent doing science. They’re not harmful, but politely remind them that they are not invited to your party on the weekend and no-one remembers who Duran Duran is.


Navigating around interpersonal storms will become a well practiced and valuable skill should you decide to submit to a career in science. If everything else fails and the relationship falls apart you can always poo in their office when they’re on an international trip.


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Oct 112016
Lecture room and lectern

When a fancy scientist goes to another university, part of their payment for a free lunch includes having to endure a lab tour and also give a talk to anyone who is required to listen. Lab tours have always been a bit of a mystery to me. A lab looks like a lab. Sure, sometimes there’s a fancy bit of equipment in there and you get to see it. But it takes me back to the times when I was over my friends house and they wouldn’t shut up about their commodore 64, I get it, you’re a rich twat who likes to show off and your room smells funny, like socks and old cum.

Before the talk, a reluctant post-doc (who’s been coerced into organising talks) will say a few words about the speaker. It’s their science obituary. They will typically list they awards and achievements, how much money they have been awarded over the course of their career. My favourite thing to do is to look at the expressions on the visiting academics face. They’ll typically fall into two categories:

  1. Embarrassment. This academic want’s this person to shut up as soon as possible. They don’t want their best bits talked about. Perhaps it’s because what they don’t list on their intro is all of the stuff they didn’t get – I’m sure that would make for a much more interesting introduction.
  2. Smug orgasm. This academic fucking loves it. They don’t want it to stop. You can see that it’s taking all of their effort not to chest bump someone, lick them on their face and roar at the audience.

The thing is, all of the stuff they talk about is really boring. I suppose it’s meant to inspire me, but all it does is make it perfectly clear of how much I’m lacking in the ol’ science department – like hearing “is it in yet?”.

So, here’s my template for the sorts of information that I want included and I encourage you to use it when you next give an academic introduction:

Ladies and gentlemen. It’s with reserved excitement that I introduce [insert full name here – leave out title, it annoys them]. [Name] has been a [job title] at [place of work] for [this long].

Since receiving their PhD in [year of graduation] they have been wondering randomly through the academic system hoping that [their research topic] remained popular, and topical enough, to receive funding. They have applied for [number of grants applied] grants and received [number actually obtained] making a [percentage] % success rate.

They have considered giving up science [number of times very sad] but continue to fight their way through competitive grant applications because they are too far in to give up. And no one will pay them to [their favorite hobby].

In their spare time they like to take [their favourite recreational drug] with friends which helps numb the pain and dull the internal dialogue. They trim their pubes [this many] times a year because [insert reason].

Please join me in welcoming [invent nickname for them] who will speak on [mispronounced title of talk]. [nickname] has encouraged me to stop them after 45 minutes, regardless of if they are actually finished, because that’s how long any one person can listen to anything, let alone [topic] which only excites [the person that invited them] and [take a guess at how many people in the audience like the topic] people in this room.

Over to you [nickname].

There you have it. Sounds much more interesting, right?

Respond with what your introduction would be in the comments. That’ll be really fucking interesting…

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Oct 042016
andy in the lab wearing gloves

Research science labs are full of little glassware empires and invisible bench space frontiers which, your sweaty gloved mits should never pass. Just like prison, you’ll need to learn the unwritten rules of the lab. Unlike prison, you don’t have to hide things in your bum or fight someone for their footwear, unless that’s your thing.

This ain’t no undergrad lab

Welcome to the big girl’s/boy’s table! We are not in Kansas anymore Toto, etc (you get the idea).

So, if you want to annoy people, act like it is a first year undergraduate lab. Channel your inner just-turned-18-and-insecure teenager and let them out! Leave all your chemicals on the balance – when asked if it’s your mess say “the lab tech’ll get it” followed by this face:
Bitchy smile/smirk

You’ll be given a couple of gentle reminders by the senior member of the lab and they’ll talk about you behind your back. You’ll know when it happens because an email will be sent out from your supervisor (who actually never enters the lab) along the lines of:

Dear Lab Users,

It is unfortunate that I have to write this email, but it has come to my attention that the lab is regularly being left in an untidy state. This is both dangerous and discourteous to your colleagues. 

Please clean up after yourselves and leave the lab in the state in which you found it.

Read this as: CLEAN YOUR SHIT UP *insert name here*!!!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK’S WRONG WITH YOU!


A research lab is full of invisibly claimed glassware, good pens, good tweezers and “my” pipette tips. When tweezer tips touch perfectly it’s as if karma is rewarding you for peeing the stubborn poo stains off of the pub toilet. If you want to annoy everyone in the lab – slightly twist the tweezers so that the tips are slightly off centre – don’t do it too much, we want to turn that precious sample into a microscopic helicopter on it’s way to oblivion.

Nothing is more precious than a good pair of tweezers. Nothing. If you do have to borrow some, handle them like a new born child. That is, if you drop them on the floor when no-one is looking, it never happened.

Someones else’s lab coat

Wearing someone else’s lab coat is like wearing someone else’s underwear. Underwear with pockets which are hung up in a public place and only washed after you feel ashamed of the stains. Should someone be found wearing your lab coat you have the permission to pull down their pants and bite their bum.

Passive aggressive notes EVERYWHERE!

The passive aggressive notes are there for your own good. Feel free to contribute to the passive aggressive notes left in the lab. May I suggest:

PLEASE make sure this bench is kept tidy – I know who you are.

Stop farting in the lab – if you are going to do it turn on the fume cupboard.

and a personal favourite:


Annual lab clean up

The annual lab clean up is like the ultimate team bonding experience. Here, everyone looks busy whilst actually doing not much to nothing. You have to turn up! If you aren’t there without a really good excuse, it’s the equivalent of borrowing someones car, leaving a turd on the passenger seat and parking in the sun.


What other things would you add to this? Let me know in the comments:

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