Response to Comments on last post: No.
Great literary reference, I actually still haven't read that book. I should put it on my list.
I counter your reference with one from the musical Chorus Line.
One of the characters sings a song about her first acting teacher, who tells her she's Nothing, and the other kids in her class yell that she's Nothing.
So she goes and prays for guidance (I can only get behind this part because she prays to Santa Maria, hail Mary full of grace!).
And she hears a voice that tells her
This man is Nothing! This course is Nothing! Go find a better class!
And when you find it, you'll be an actress!
And the lyrics after that are where she sings:
"And I assure you that's what finally came to pass."
Yes, I play this song a lot.
In other words: Just because some grumpy head instructor tells you "no" does NOT mean you don't have "it."
I've met a lot of different kinds of "it", although I know what you mean about some postdocs really standing out more than others.
But this is why I think science needs to smarten up or lose out.
"It" is not a scientific way to decide who has a unique and important insight to contribute, and who does not.
And being "more aggressive, etc"? Still a LOT easier for guys, and a lot of guys still don't get that.
Aggressiveness is not a sign of being a good scientist. It's a sign of confidence, which is not necessarily indicative of anything scientific.
I know plenty of fantastic scientists who are also fantastically insecure.
Most of the SUCCESSFUL scientists I know pretend to be confident, but it's often just an act. They have a lot of moments of self-doubt.
Most of the aggressive scientists I know? Buncha stupid jerks, just like in every other walk of life where you find aggressive people.
Or did you mean "assertive", the version that's supposed to be okay? As in, having a backbone?
Yeah, still easier if you're a guy. You might have to read more of this blog to find out why.
I wish it were that simple. I think it varies from lab to lab, and person to person. I've seen people in my lab get taken under the wing, as it were, by my advisor. Pats on the head, pats on the back, all kinds of great mentoring going on there. I've seen other people get... Nothing.
There can be only one favorite in every lab, with the sorts of PIs who choose favorites and probably don't even realize it. I can't say this enough: Having a favorite will always affect how everyone else gets mentored.
You sound like you're not used to working with scientists.
NO, most labs do NOT have all the undergrads meet with everyone. Many do not even introduce prospective grad students or postdocs to the other lab members before they are hired. The PI decides.
I'm not saying I agree with this, but I understand why. Interviewing people takes time. And a lot of undergrads drop out of lab work before too long. One semester might seem like a long time to you, but it's the blink of an eye in the course of research.
And it doesn't matter if you or they can't, or don't want to, "hang out."
You're in lab to work, and maybe learn a few things if you keep your eyes and ears open and ask good questions.
That is ALL you are there for.
If you happen to be pals with your labmates, that's great, you'll all have more fun.
If not, you better figure out how to grow up and work together like adults.
If you or they don't fit in? GET USED TO IT.
You're not going to "fit in" everywhere you go in life. Nobody does.
It's really unusual that people are downright disruptive to the work, but in those cases usually a few words with the PI, from a few concerned lab members, will do the trick.
Not being very sociable? That's not disruptive unless the person is so nonfunctional as to refuse to talk to other people in ways that interfere with the work. For example, if the person refuses to answer the phone, sign for packages, or ask questions if it means talking to anyone. That sort of thing. I have seen this kind of debilitating shyness before, but usually people get over it with a little bit of encouragement.
If I were the PI, I would be concerned that the antisocial lab member is depressed. I might try to do some lab social activities to find out more about how serious the problem is, and go from there.
Lab social dynamics are often irritating, but unfortunately in most fields you have to spend time working in or near a group you have no control over choosing.
Personally, my undergrads have all been surprised at how much time scientists in my field spend working ALONE. My work involves long stretches alone with a piece of equipment, or alone at the bench at odd hours when everyone else has gone home.
Oh wait, I only do that by choice. Because I am not Nothing. I have "it." And I have a lot of it.
[I just don't have my own lab (yet?).]