Thursday, October 1, 2015

A day in the life of a newish PI: Thursday October 1

I launched the "day in the life of a new PI" challenge a few weeks ago to see what the days of principal investigators are like at different places and at different stages of their careers. New PIs often feel overwhelmed and are never sure whether their work load is "normal" or too much. Trainees often wonder what their bosses do and why they are so stressed (hint, mostly grants, but also paperwork...). The first day Sept 17th went really well (here) with multiple people blogging about their day and even a certain sciencing bear joined in....

Today was picked by my readers as the second date and here it goes...

8:00-8:45am Skype conference call with colleague in Europe. Have some interesting results and wanted to talk about them with someone who knows the molecular mechanism. Luckily a friend from grad school who is now a PI is an expert in the field and we threw around some ideas. Remember, students, you never know who your friends will become (an old post about this).

8:45-9:15am Mad cleaning and putting away because the cleaning lady is coming today. A post will follow on having other people do the stuff you don't want to do, but in a nutshell never scrub a toilet again. You still have to clear all the surfaces and put your clothes away before the cleaners come, though.

9:15-9:45am Walk to work because a walking challenge starts today and for your mental sanity you should sign up for any challenge that gets you to exercise.

10:00-10:30am Budget meeting with the departmental staff. We have two small grants coming in and hired a new tech (whom I was interviewing on Day 1), so we had to go through all the efforts that are changing and figure out all the percentages. My effort distribution is getting a little ridiculous and for some reason it is always wrong in the reports. Musings on effort and salary are here.

10:30-10:35am Quickly shoot out a couple of orders on iBuy.

10:35am-12:00pm Teach a rotation student to do oocyte injections.

12:00-12:10pm Fill paperwork to put the student on animal protocol, while on the phone with ordering person who cannot find the orders I sent in earlier.

12:10-12:40pm Lunch. Go on a hunt for pizza at Whole Foods because it's raining and cold and nasty outside.

12:40-1:30pm Go over a manuscript I'm reviewing. The postdoc who could help me with this is on vacation. Trying to get other postdoc involved.

1:30-4:30pm I should really be working on a letter of intent for a grant, but I had signed up for a AAAS Communicating Science Workshop offered by the university, so I decided to attend. For a university-wide event it was sparsely attended, which is sad considering how important science communication is. It was not necessarily the level of detail I was hoping for, but it was really good to be reminded about really considering who your audience is and it helped refine my elevator pitch. I've been meaning to spend more time on my non-pseud Twitter account and talk about some actual science to became more engaged with the general public and patient groups.

4:30-5:30pm I was supposed to go attend one of the medical school lectures at this time to see if I could pick up more teaching, but the lecturer pointed me to another person who could be more amenable to relinquishing lectures, so I'll go next week. The thing about medical schools is that you have to be careful about taking lectures from teaching-only faculty (and this is where everyone who has to teach 2-3 courses a semester is now hating me...but I still have to pay for most of my salary from grants). Instead of the lecture I pop into a senior colleague's office to, find out what is going on in the department, university, academic world...Senior colleague suggests dinner.

5:30-6:00pm Back to working on the manuscript review and some email.

6:30-8:00pm. Hit really swanky new restaurant I've been meaning to try with senior colleague. More chat about the intricacies of academia and academics, etc, etc. Amazing meal. Must put restaurant on list for dinners with seminar speakers.

8:00-9:30pm. Home nice and clean. All the animals happy to see me! Some quality time with Mozart as I've been roped into learning some chamber music.

Now I really need to read some papers for background for the letter of intent.
Today was a good day, a relaxed day. Next up Nov 9.  In the meantime, here is today from @biobrainsy

PS: 10:30-11:00pm Interestingly the day ended with a mini-meltdown about being unproductive, irrelevant and isolated. Partially triggered by the conversations with senior colleague during the day and partially by other factors such as reading papers and seeing other people's productivity. The constant rain doesn't help, but I think this is a common occurrence among scientists, so I'm reporting it. I've been thinking about writing a blog post about this for a long time, but it's very hard to find the right balance.

1 comment:

  1. That does sound like a good day, apart from the mini-meltdown. Are you sure it's not just imposter syndrome?
    People have tried to make me get a cleaning lady/bloke/person, but I just don't like other people touching my stuff. Plus if I do have to do the prep-cleaning then the house would already be a lot cleaner than it usually is, which would defeat the purpose of getting said cleaner in the first place.