Picking your PI- BEWARE

What’s the difference between your relationship with your significant other and your PI?

You can’t divorce your PI!

Here you are; the first day of graduate school. Wide-eyed, excited, paper hungry, and ready to save the world. You are now off on your own to find a home, or as others called it, your prison cell for the next several years.

Before graduate school, you may (or may not) have done some research during your undergraduate career and even took different science classes to learn what the world of research has to offer. You may be that student that knows EXACTLY which lab and research you want to dedicate your soul to for the next several years. Or, you may be that student who isn’t quiet sure whether a wet-lab (experimental) or dry-lab (usually computational or theoretical) is the right fit for you. Either or, at least you may have SOME sort of idea what type of research you may or may not want to pursue.

But the time is here to pick your PI (that stands for Principle Investigator). And yes, this is a fancy academia acronym for your research professor, your friend, your foe, your boss. I think you get the hint. Of course it’s smart to pick a PI to work with that is similar to your undergraduate degree and currently works in a field you want (or think you want) to pursue.

But watch out! Picking your PI is MUCH more than just picking a research lab and “home” to hang out with for the next 3-5 years. Why?

Selecting your PI will be the most important decision in your academic research training.

Your PI will be your window to into what research and academia has to offer you. Your PI will be the one that will help to submit your papers and reviews to academic peer-review journals. Your PI will be the one that either will make you do that experiment again for the 100th time or even call you on Sunday morning at 7:00AM SHARP to inquire of the status of the NSF grant application due tomorrow. Your PI may be the one who will laugh at you when you cannot explain the mechanism of a chemotherapy agent in a lung cancer model during group meeting. Or your PI may be your #1 cheerleader and motivate you when paper reviews come back sour. Your PI may be the one that makes you teach that 800-person Chemistry 101 discussion section twice a semester, for the next 5 years. At the end of your academic career, your PI will be the one that will make you LOVE academia, or more-so in 9/10 cases, make you scream and run away in fear from academia to never return.

No pressure right?

So, how should you select your PI to make your gradate school career as easy and painless as possible? Hit the follow button and check back for our next post that will have the top 5 things to know before making that commitment!

-the Grad School HACKERS


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