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It's a Tough Job, But Somebody ...

It seems as though it's being-a-new-PI-is-a-really-tough-gig week in the academic science blogosphere, and over at his space, Prof-like Substance discusses the dynamics of competing interests amongst mentors and their trainees. Among other things, he says, PIs cannot expect their trainees to work the exact hours they'd like them to, to be perfect writers from the get-go, and to "care about your promotion and tenure." This last sentiment has FemaleScienceProfessor asking whether trainees ought to take an interest in their mentors' careers. She argues that trainees inevitably benefit when their mentors get tenure. "A tenured advisor has a greater chance of staying around for the completion of graduate degrees and postdoctoral contracts," and reference letters authored by tenured academics "might be more respected than a similar letter from a person who was denied tenure," FemaleScienceProfessor says. (She's polling her readers on the topic, here. At present, more than 90 percent of respondents have indicated that trainees do indeed "care.")

Meanwhile, EngineeringProf — who describes himself as a "new tenure-track professor" at a "private, mid-level research university" — says that after four months on the job, he thinks his "lab is finally running out of things that can go wrong." (Apparently, DrugMonkey finds this hilarious.) Reflecting on a rough week in the lab while writing grants at home over the weekend has EngineeringProf contemplating whether he's "in the wrong profession," he says. While he says he enjoys "science and teaching, and the hope of job security," EngineeringProf remains unsure of whether being a PI is "worth the sacrifice."