It's my life!

Earning money by being a lab rat

It was 1.20pm and I was out of breath after rushing from 4 hours of engineering lectures to the third floor of the National University Hospital. Within moments of reaching the Orthopedic Diagnostic Centre, I was getting spherical biomarkers pasted on my pelvis and legs, as well as EMG systems on my leg muscles.

As I gaze blankly at the wall with the words, ‘Motion Analysis Lab’ while the two researchers (my friend, Tsin Li and another intern) hovered around me to paste those tiny equipment on me, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this instead of studying?”

“The answer is simple. Easy money”.

15 dollars for an hour of my time. 15 dollars to wear two pairs of shoes, and to walk in circles. Furthermore, I’d be helping Tsin Li with her gait analysis project, and hey, it’s something I have not done before.

Being a lab specimen is something I have always wanted to do. As a student in NUS, we have daily updates through our online student blackboard about campus activities, events, and occasionally, requests for volunteers for psychology or medical tests.

Without any hesitation, I would always click on those unique requests. Not for the money, though that’s a nice incentive. But, I simply just want to do it. I’m curious about how to conduct research and what do the lab subjects do in these experiments.

But, due to schedule clashes and low reimbursements for my time,  I have not once volunteered for those tests.

Until today.

Finally, I had my chance on being a lab rat. After this experience with gait analysis, I can now totally relate how those in the animation-making industry replicate human movements into animated characters.

By 2.15pm, I was done with the experiment. I collected my 15 dollars and said my goodbyes to my friend.

And, what did I do with that 15 dollars? That very evening, it sponsored my ticket for blockbuster Swedish film, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“.


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