We're a little crazy, about science!

Calm before the storm

a painting of a ship at sunset on calm seas
I’m sticking with the sea theme, it’s metaphorical!

Time is a great teacher that eventually kills all of its students. We’re all dying, I mean that in the literal sense. We’re slowly headed to a brick wall that we can’t avoid. I guess the difference between that plodding path forward and what I’m feeling now is just a time-scale difference. You see, I’ve set off a chain of events that are destined to blow up. I just hope I’m not part of the casualties. Am I being dramatic? Well, let’s review and you be the judge.

My two PI’s. I joke that it would make a great TV show and in a lot of ways if we could dial back the consequences it would make for a great comedy. Who knows, maybe I’ll laugh when it’s all over, but right now I’m being torn in to different directions and the feeling isn’t a pleasant one. I guess I should stop being vague and we should overview since that’s what I promised.

The story goes like this, my joint fellowship came with some baggage. I was to perform a set of experiments and do some analysis. I’ve done the experiments and I’m doing the analysis now, that’s not the problem. The problem is my main-PI is changing the scope, not for this experiment, but for my grant proposal.

He suggested that we perform a single experiment within the clinical population I want to do my research on. The problem is the experiment does not relate in any way, shape, or form to the project I’m proposing in the grant I wrote. I’ve confirmed with my Co-PI that he doesn’t see the overlap and literally suggested that my main-PI may have forgotten what my grant proposal was about.

Mind you, I’m now passing messages between my main-PI and Co-PI at this point. Which normally I wouldn’t mind, but my main-PI and I haven’t been on great terms, again a story which I’m sure I will get around to telling eventually. The punch-line in all of this is my Co-PI said no. Flat out no to adding more experiments without my main-PI discussing it with him directly first.

Don’t shoot the messenger… right? Well yesterday I had to pull the trigger and set everything into motion. I emailed my main-PI — who isn’t used to being told no, much less being told no through a grad student — that my Co-PI said that he wouldn’t be able to do it and that he needs to speak to them to figure out where to go from here.

After the recent responses from my main-PI, I am not super excited to hear back on this. Yep, that’s the story. Again, I could very well be over reacting, I tend to do that. Unfortunately I’m stuck waiting to see how it all plays out. With the original collaborative agreement up at the end of next summer, I am not only left wondering where my funding will come from moving forward, but where I will be doing the bulk of my research if I am removed from my Co-PI’s lab. Fun, right?

There’s a lot you could take away from all of this. Something along the lines of bad communication makes things worse for everyone. Or that there are a lot of moving gears in research and sometimes you end up being crushed. That one is probably a little darker than I meant it to sound. I think in this case, the point is that sometimes too many hands in the cookie jar means crumbs for everyone. In other words, when too many people think they are in charge, it makes for a bad situation all around, especially when you’re the one they think they are in charge of.


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