We're a little crazy, about science!

Meetings and more meetings

Today was going to be about my meeting yesterday with my Co-PI, buuuut it turns out that I have even more news than that! How did that happen? Well I got an email from my main-PI asking me about my plans for the summer, when I wanted to finish the long, horrible, project I’ve been trying to work through, and more importantly, my funding situation. After some emailing back and forth things are looking dare I say good?

One more time from the top. I’m a third year PhD candidate in neuroengineering. I’m studying how the spinal cord communicates with the brain and how that communication changes after spinal cord injury. I’ve developed a “super secret” technique! It’s all hush, hush and until I get some more data it won’t be published so I can’t talk about it more than in whispers. I have a BS and MS in mechanical engineering and while my PhD has engineering in the title, they are two completely different fields, trust me, found out the hard way. Things I’m worried about these days? The usual, publishing, funding, and drama so wild I should pitch it as a TV show called, “my two PI’s.” Today we’re diving into that a little, albeit a little unexpectedly.

First the fun news! Met with my Co-PI to talk about some awesome and fun data I’ve been working with (from yesterday). I was excited, he was excited, we were excited. It’s good data and we clearly, CLEARLY have something super cool. While my “boring” plots weren’t very creative, they did a great job of showing the relationship and I’m going back to create something more “fun” with the data to show the complex relationships we have.

It’s hard to capture everything in one “boring” graph, by boring I mean box and whisker. It took 16 plots to show all the relationships and while it did the job there’s other ways we can show what’s going on. I wish I could share more about this, but my Co-PI want’s to get this into review next month so everyone here will definitely get to see the exciting conclusion from that once we get it published.

Did I mention I’m excited? This was such a cool experiment, I cannot wait to share. Soon though… hopefully. Publishing takes FOOOORRRREVER. I’m still trying to get like three different things published right now and it’s a pain.

Now for the not so fun news. My main-PI emailed me with the subject line “Questions” which is never a good sign. While it turned out to be not THAT bad, it’s a tricky subject. He wanted to know my plans for the summer (IE how much work I plan on doing) and what was going on with my funding. That is the tricky part. Funding is never a fun conversation and there has been tension between my two PI’s for a while now over how much control they get over the work I do and the responsibilities I have.

On one hand, my Co-PI would love to have me transfer basically to his lab. My main-PI is an unknown quantity at the moment, but based on some of the things that have happened, I get the feeling he wants to cut ties with my Co-PI and have me in his lab full-time. If it were up to me, I would prefer to continue my work in my Co-PI’s lab since his research is far closer to what I’m doing than my main-PI. I would even be okay with splitting my time, or ideally just getting the freedom to focus on my research. That was what I was hoping the fellowship (which is the reason I have two PI’s to begin with) was going to do for me, but other expectations got in the way.

In the email, my main-PI hinted that continuing my fellowship was an option if my Co-PI would be willing to do it. This was a shock, nothing he’s done has even remotely suggested he would want to continue the collaboration. I responded with what I knew from my Co-PI, which was that he had funding for me if my main-PI allowed it, so that I “shouldn’t worry” about it. We still have an R21 grant in review and that is probably the longest of longshots, but it’s still something. I also have the surprise funding proposal I wrote for my main-PI (here). That is slightly more likely to be funded, but only slightly. So needless to say, funding has been a concern for a bit now.

The exchange ended pretty anticlimactically, we agreed to discuss it more in detail Friday since we have a lab meeting then. So in the end, it’s a wait and see thing. I’m not super thrilled about this since I would rather know what my main-PI is thinking about doing, but if I can continue my research I’ll be happy.

I guess we’ll have to wait to see what happens tomorrow. Fingers crossed it ends well I guess, who knows!

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