Welcome to Caltech...

<p>"I</a> have noticed that you failed to come into the lab on several weekends" - Boing Boing</p>

<p>OK, so if a postdoc whose job it is to conduct experiments doesn't want to show up on the necessary schedule to do the experiments (a lot of experiments in biology and chemistry are time sensitive), then he's just negligent at his job. Experiments don't follow a Monday to Friday, 9-5 schedule and if he wants to do lab work he surely knows that and has to accept it. I think any self-respecting lab would expect the same.</p>

<p>The formal letter is a little over the top. It's possible that it's even a joke. But working most evenings and weekends, as well as during the day, is a completely realistic expectation for a Caltech postdoc in chemistry. It can't really be viewed as a "job." It's more like a step toward a top position that requires substantial accomplishment.</p>

<p>I think pre-college is too soon to worry about what being a post-doc at a place like Caltech is like. Most people who get that far are wrapped up in their work to the point that they actually want to work that much. Friend of mine, now a professor at MIT: "It's just that there's no place I'd rather be than the lab."</p>

<p>You don't need to buy into this at this point! When you are completing a Ph.D., then you can look at your preferences and options.</p>

<p>Addendum: I interrupted work on a manuscript to post this message.</p>

<p>The letter is dated July 27, 1996. So why now?????</p>

<p>Also in any institution, there is a chemistry (pun unintended) between a professor and doctoral/post doc student even more than with an undergraduate or even a masters student. I know of horror stories in almost every institution where Post-Docs feel they are slave labor and do not get along with their mentor. Obviously, we do not know what exactly happened but QuantMech is right, this is not something to worry about at this time for undergraduate admissions.</p>

<p>That kind of schedule is actually pretty standard for grad students and postdocs working in organic chemistry at a top program. I don't think this would usually be written in the form of a letter though. Instead, the prof would just most likely tell the postdoc in person and look very menacing.</p>