A friend of mine started working in a biology research lab where several research groups share space and lab equipment.

Recently the environment has become quite toxic as the people started to mistrust each other.

It started with people not talking to each other and instead preferring to email everyone about "How to use Equipment X". Then later "To the person who used Equipment Y before me, please ask your supervisors how to use it properly". Now everyone watches each other to guard the equipment. In spite of this chemicals and samples started to disappear from the stock and tools get contaminated over night.

As my friend is "the new guy" he is often the target of accusations. His colleagues from his research group are trying to protect him but still something needs to be done.

Now what to do? How to get back the trust? Should the institute heads get involved?

  • 6
    This is something that should be sorted out by the supervisors of all the people involved, and I'm surprised that they haven't acted yet. Jan 28, 2017 at 17:37
  • 1
    By the way, do you mean "toxic" just figuratively or literally too? I notice mention of chemicals and contaminated tools.
    – J W
    Jan 28, 2017 at 22:41
  • no just interpersonal.
    – arved
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:16
  • Also, is there not a manual for said equipment anywhere? Jan 29, 2017 at 0:48
  • @NZKshatriya - I was able to understand this question; but please feel free to improve the title by editing. // I don't think the way people are using the equipment is the real problem here. The description in the question reminds me of the classic Scientific American article about antisocial behavior of mice in an extremely crowded environment. Jan 29, 2017 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


Institute heads seems like overkill at this point. How about the group leaders for starters?

Your friend might find it helpful to schedule his lab time when his groupmates will be present.

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