Friday, February 10, 2006

Interview with Bil

It's Friday night, I'm in the lab writing my paper when who pops up in an IM chat screen? Bil the man. He's starting up a new lab in California. We chatted a bit ...

Mad Scientist: man I should do a blog "interview" with you

Bil the Man: Right.

MS: (just another excuse not to work on the paper) ok here goes

BtM: Dude, I have sht to do.

MS: so do I

BtM: Yeah, well, if you don't need quick answers. I'm writing my first e-mail to an undergrad interviewing next week.

MS: What's the best thing about becoming a PI?

BtM: The best thing is that I get to make all the decisions. The worst thing is that I have to make all the decisions.

MS: Anything you didn't anticipate?

BtM: As a PI there is a lot of administration, a lot of politics, and lots of decisions. It is really easy to stay busy. I'm only taking baby steps and it is already very complicated. The money also goes really fast.

MS: Really, out of money ... what are the big ticket items?

BtM: Centrifuges burn the money fast. I regret buying one of them already but hopefully it won't be a big mistake. Also, they come with rotors at over 5K each. That package cost me nearly 200K. Incidentals add up fast too. I'm looking at a 20K order from Fisher/VWR.

MS: That's why Tom is constantly obsessed with rotors ... so what's the status on the lab? When will you be pippetting away in there?

BtM: We'll be starting in about 2 weeks I hope. All the big stuff should be here by then. That will be almost exactly 2 months from day 1. My Tech is aching to start pippetting. I hope he feels the same way in 2 months.

MS: Are you excited? Anxious?

BtM: I'm anxious. I really want to get started. I don't want to rely exclusively on others supplies so I'm waiting a bit. We'll be moving pretty fast once we get started. I think the two people I have so far are capable of a lot of output.

MS: I'm impressed that you don't feel (or appear to feel) overwhelmed. Do you ever think to yourself "man I'm responsible for all this money, people etc."?

BtM: Not really, I feel a lot or responsibility but I don't feel like that is complicated. I've made a few mistakes but those were learning mistakes. ie If you don't know for sure get advise. I have a lot of support from the other faculty. I feel overwhelmed that little of what I've been doing involves the details of the science. So far it has all been about setting up the lab and administration. I'm looking forward to talking science in a real way again. Hopefully my lab will give me that.

MS: Ok I should be going for dinner soon so one last question. If you were to guess, when is the first big paper coming out?

BtM: Oh man, I don't want to jinx anything. I'm hoping the next interesting paper will be SecY mutants....

MS: Thanks ... one of the best interviews I've had so far ... well thought answers, I guess that's why they hired you (well not really)...

BtM: Man, you have no idea how serious this job makes you. I'm looking forward to relaxing once we are focusing on research.
MS: That's why you're always talking about the beach ...

BtM: Have a great weekend. Give our best to your missus.

MS: Thanks you too, say hi to {wife - not sure if Bil wanted his wife's name on the net}