The BIG result
Today I had my meeting with school-PI and I have to say it went both better and worse than I was hoping for. The good news is I’m still a member of his lab and he seemed surprisingly okay with me switching projects for my dissertation, not that the project would change much, just the funding source. Of course that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows, because that would be too easy.
The short and simple version is that I’m in the clear for my PhD. As long as I can show “intellectual merit” I should be good. Since the project was conceived by me that shouldn’t be TOO big of an issue, but it may be. It’s a tricky situation since school-PI and hospital-PI are definitely not on good terms and this just made things about a million times worse, so bad in fact that there were some surprisingly unkind things said about hospital-PI. Which I understand, it’s probably just a touch frustrating (understatement).
Basically if it were me, I would be doing it all, but it’s not up to me. Or is it? At first school-PI gave me the green light to walk away from the project so easily I might as well have complemented his shoes or something. As the conversation progressed, I think the reality of what I said set it a bit so the tone shifted, but in the end I now have a (yet another) choice to make.
I hate to admit this because I respect both school-PI and hospital-PI, but school-PI brought up something I hadn’t considered. Technically what I do in my free time is my business, so there should be , and there is technically, no way for hospital-PI to forbid me from taking on this project. He doesn’t control the other hours of my day outside of work. Which makes sense and I agree with, but at the same time it’s my opinion that this isn’t what hospital-PI is worried about.
The project I proposed was huge in scope. It was made even larger thanks to surgical-PI pointing out that we should have more data from our injured population. In total we need at MINIMUM twenty-five people. I typed out twenty-five because the number is so huge for a study like this that it should be respected like that. Once the data is collected the analysis would go fairly quickly (hopefully), but collecting the data is a MASSIVE undertaking.
Currently the arrangement I have with hospital-PI gives me one day a week to focus on my PhD in person, as in attend class should I need to. Since I’m done with classes that day is typically spent for my lab meetings, which I attend in person whenever I can. Considering this is technically (even though I’m salary) paid time, I think it’s very generous of him. Since the lab meetings are technically a required class, since my school is weird like that, it keeps me from being kicked out basically.
The project I would be doing with school-PI would more than likely take more than one day a week to accomplish. I say more than likely, but I can comfortably say, will, it will take me more than one day a week if I want to graduate… ever. Which is why hospital-PI has offered me a project to do that is more tailored to his lab. It’s smaller in sample size and would give me the ability to focus on it during work hours whenever other experiments weren’t going on, so way better deal.
Now I need to sit down with hospital-PI and let him know so I can figure out what I want to do. Since I only really get one option here, or risk making hospital-PI angry, I am pretty confident that I’m taking the offer he gave me and it will be a whirlwind to the finish since we do things fast in his lab and I would be able to collect the data ASAP.
I have a meeting scheduled for Monday with hospital-PI to hammer out the details and while I agree with school-PI that hospital-PI cannot control what I do outside of the hours that I work (and I work odd hours to begin with, because research), I think being able to have the full force of the lab behind what I’m doing would overall lead to a better outcome.
The only downside is that I would be walking away from this funding and the project, and more specifically the “super secret technique” is my baby and while it’s high risk, high reward, the project with school-PI would highlight just how cool it is if it does actually work. Hospital-PI’s version of the project is more clinically focused, which is good, just not as big of a “wow” factor.
If this post makes it sound like I’m torn, it’s because I am. I’m stuck in a very “unique” spot right now. There’s a lot to figure out, but for now I’m not in danger of losing my job or my spot in my PhD lab, so overall today was a win.
I’m sure there will be more drama soon though, so stick around.