The Lab Fridge

Nothing captures life in the academic sciences quite like Piled Higher and Deeper. In yesterday’s comic, Jorge Cham shows us the disgusting innards of the lab/office fridge. Now, Jorge is a physicist engineer, so his fridge is the one where you’re supposed to store your food and drinks. When a biologist thinks of a lab fridge, he pictures something quite different. With that in mind, here’s my rendition of “The Lab Fridge”:


Aside from the empty bottles that some lazy, inconsiderate lab mate (most likely me) failed to refill, what’s missing from the fridge?


  1. #1 Ambitwistor
    May 10, 2007

    Actually Jorge is a mechanical engineer, but point taken.

  2. #2 Sandra Porter
    May 10, 2007

    The radioactivity sticker.

  3. #3 Rugosa
    May 10, 2007

    I love both cartoons! I’m a long-time admin assist for research departments, and it’s all so true. The lab/office fridge reminds me of the time I got so disgusted with ours that I stayed after work to clean it. I put up a sign declaring the fridge to be an EPA superfund site to get people to remove anything they still considered edible. The oldest dated food product was at least 7 years old.

  4. #4 Jason
    May 10, 2007

    How about 1L bottles of media/buffer with less than 100ml left in the bottom? Besides that it’s pretty close I think. Nice job

  5. #5 MartinC
    May 10, 2007

    You forgot “delivered package of urgently needed reagent, signed for by someone in the lab who put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it”.

  6. #6 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 10, 2007

    what’s missing

    As a physicist I can partly relate.

    But it is worse in the industry. There you see unmarked bottles pushed around in ‘acid’ cabinets because nobody knows where to get rid of them or how dangerous they are. At one particularly nasty place we instituted an amnesty – bundled the stuff up as hazardous waste and trucked away the lot of it for safe destruction against many $$$. The dated bottles were 10 years old…

    That would be your unmarked tubes, I guess.

  7. #7 A.
    May 10, 2007

    You forgot the petri dish with the dead drosophilia in it.

  8. #8 chall
    May 15, 2007

    Yey, that is wonderful!
    Personally I miss more labels on the door. Not only radioactivity but ‘hazadous’ and ‘biohazard’ in orange and skulls on it…. not that anyone really cares about them though 😉

  9. #9 Arjun
    May 17, 2007

    Our lab fridge always has old petri dishes whose E. coli has long since been consumed by weird new fungi growing so large they’re lifting off the lids and heading out to look for new lands to conquer (or some of those ubiquitous unlabeled Epi tubes).

    In my lab we usually defrost the freezers when the ice floes begin to push the doors off their hinges and the 5 cubic inches of ice free space on each shelf finally makes freezer use impossible.

    As the ice slowly recedes leaving giant puddles slowly spreading across the lab floor, whole new strata of old experiments and reagents emerge. Then the forensic anthropology begins. Long horded tubes of rarely used enzymes, now useless, come to light. “It was you who stole my half used tube of Hi-fi Taq three years ago!”

    Defrost days are always exciting.

  10. #10 "GrrlScientist"
    October 11, 2007

    i have never found any left-overs from last week’s lab meeting, and believe me, i’ve looked. so that makes me wonder, are grad students/postdocs in some parts of the USA better fed and compen$ated than in other parts of the USA? if so, i’d sure like to know what parts those are since i’ve always been a “starving grad student” (although i was actually kept alive when a grad student by the local foodbank, whew).

  11. #11 Tara C. Smith
    October 11, 2007

    The radioactivity sticker.

    And biohazard one. Right next to the food.

    Actually, that looks very eerily like my cooler, though minus the food. (I’d really get my ass kicked if I ever allowed food anywhere near the lab!)

  12. #12 Jim Thomerson
    October 12, 2007

    Many years ago there was a frige in the student developmental biology lab. They kept live frogs in the vegetable crisper. One day a student came in and, while we were chatting, someone asked if she had brought the dry ice. Yes, she had put it in the freezer with the ice cube trays in the lab fridge. I said, “Tell you what, you got some dead frogs in there. Better go check.” Yes, they were dead.

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