"It can't be that hard being a PI"

Feb 02 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I overheard this the other day at work and damn near blacked out due to lack of oxygen from laughing so hard.  Dude you have no fucking clue.

PI's are the scientific equivalent of the small business owner who have to serve as a master to their apprentices, act as salesmen for their ideas, watch out for the bottom line (the almighty NIH dolla billz yo), and live with the fear/guilt of the possibility of or having to sack an employee due to lack of adequate funds.

11 responses so far

  • It is certainly *difficult* to be a PI. But once your lab reaches a certain size, and if you have selected your trainees appropriately, it doesn't require nearly as much work to run effectively as you might think. I devote a substantially fewer hours to my work now than when I was a post-doc, and *never* have to work nights or weekends.

    • I agree things get better once you "hit your stride" and have proper trainees doing good science. This was a deranged comment from a postdoc who has no appreciation for how much work their boss does.

  • pinus says:

    I have heard many PI's say what CPP says, and I am eagerly looking forward to that day in my lab. Already things have started to progress in that direction.

    To me, the real question is...what is the line between this PI who can enjoy the fruits of her labor (and personnel selection) and a clueless PI who lets the inmates run the asylum, and thinks things are great, while in reality they are a mess.

  • mousfeathers says:

    Good heavens! I am a life-long tech because I watched my first PI, his post-docs and grad students--in the 70s--and decided I didn't want all that grief!

    I get all the fun I need making things work, and let THEM have the headaches. I get to leave those in the lab at night, mostly.

    As long as there are funds; it is a tad daunting to job hunt at my age--but I'm getting interviews, so it's not as bad as it could have been.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Re:PP- There are certainly personalities and work styles that make being a PI much harder than it has to be. Also, I would suggest, personalities that perceive it as harder, mostly because they dislike the aspects of the job that differentiate it from a postdoc. But yeah, it is not *easy*

  • saban_lab says:

    Look forward to hitting that stride as well.

    But for now life is insane. New postdoc hired, first ro1 submitted, papers in press that need attn, manu's in prep, helping big cheez, new cmte responsibilitIES etc, ad hoc journal reviews. Insane

  • becca says:

    It *can't* be that hard to be a PI. Have you seen some of the PIs?

    However, I think it can be quite hard to be a GOOD PI. If it's not one thing it's another- you've got to make sure a lot of things work right. That said, hearing that it is *possible* to 'hit ones stride' is somewhat reassuring. After all, it's not like it'd ever be boring. If you want it, there is always more cutting edge/elaborate/challenging yet worthwhile science to be done.

  • Bashir says:

    Harder than getting the position in the first place? Maybe those are difficult things to compare.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    My PI had 3 proposals due on Tuesday, more later this month, and still found time to talk to me about my inability to come up with a concrete research plan and find it funny.


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