What your choice of lab timer reveals about you

For many of us completing graduate degrees that require lab work, keeping track of time is a necessity. Some experiments require precise timing, and incubating samples for the wrong amount of time could have disastrous consequences for your experiment – or for your ability to replicate your own results.

Everyone has their own way to keep track of time, and I propose that your preferred method could reveal something fundamental about the nature of your character – about your alignment, if you will. Please think of this as a horoscope with a scientific flavour –  tell me about your favourite kind of timer, and I’ll tell you who you are:

  • Lawful Good: a timer, clipped to your labcoat
    • You may have inherited this timer from a former labmate, or maybe you got some good swag at the latest vendor show. Either way, this timer is yours, and you’ve clipped it to your lab coat pocket, the better to end its beeping as soon as it goes off.
  • Lawful Neutral: a timer, next to your experiment
    • You like to strategically place your lab timer on your bench when you do benchtop work, and you slap it on the tissue culture hood whenever you do cell work (magnets! How do they work?!). Its shrill beeps are just what you need to pull your attention back to your trypsinizing cells, or to the clear liquids you will need to pipette from one tube to another for the next step of your experiment.
  • Lawful Evil: a timer, in the other room
    • Why has it been beeping for five minutes? Whose timer is this?????


  • Neutral Good: the lab clock
    • Instead of using a beeping timer to count down, you like to count up, and you pride yourself at having a good memory for your starting time. You also like the flexibility of having a hands-free option, where you don’t need to pause your manipulations to start a timer.
  • True Neutral: a stopwatch
    • You are also someone who likes to count up, and when you’re alone in the lab you also enjoy pretending to coach your experiment along.
  • Neutral Evil: the lab centrifuge
    • It’s lab equipment, so you don’t have to take off your gloves to touch it, AND you’re “reserving” equipment that you’ll need very soon.


  • Chaotic Good: pure instinct
    • You have an exceptional innate sense of time, and you’ve accumulated so much lab experience that you have turned your protocols into exquisitely timed choreographies. If you ever need to wait for a precise amount of time, you count Mississippi’s.
  • Chaotic Neutral: your phone, gloves off
    • You know you’re not supposed to use your phone in a lab, but at least you’re playing it (relatively) safe by taking your gloves off before touching it. As long as you’re not doing photosensitive work where the light of your screen would ruin the experiment, where’s the harm? Right?
  • Chaotic Evil: someone else’s phone, gloves on
    • 😈


Header picture by Sophie Cousineau

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