Though it may surprise some, PI's (Principal Investigators) are people too, and hence come in a variety of flavors. Here are some phenotypes that I have noted. I have no doubt I am one (or more) of them. (**NEW additions on: 3/2014, 5/2014, 5/2015)
The Cowboy PI - Offers bold predictions in his papers, goes WAY beyond what the data actually show.
The Pinhead PI - Knows only one technique. Chooses scientific questions answerable by that technique, ignoring all else.
The Barista - Super-nice to everyone, but really has nothing much to say.
The Lone Ranger - Needs no collaborators; not even students or postdocs. Does EVERYTHING himself.
The Wanderlust PI - Always traveling to meetings, never found at home base.
The e-PI - Available only by email.
The Salesman - Perpetually telling everyone how great his stuff really is.
The Naysayer - NEVER believes in any paper, especially if it is not his.
The Weather-girl - Only writes reviews. Sometimes flooding the literature with them.
The Parasite - Latches on to other people's papers.
The Bell bottom PI - Thinks all the good science was done in the 60 and 70's - transgenic mice are SUCH a waste of time.
The Marching-band PI - Always falls in line with what everyone else in the field is doing.
The One-hit Wonder - Did something thirty ago - but thinks it is still pretty hot!
The Upscale PI - Is only interested in buying big, expensive equipment - whether he needs it or not.
The Amish PI - The opposite, favors old equipment, thinks hand-blown glass pipettes give more accurate measurements.
The Sidler - Feverishly seeks to mingle with the top-brass at every opportunity.
The Pharaoh - Demands complete reverence from everyone, expects people to kneel before him at meetings.
The Prairie Dog PI - Never reads any papers except his own; vehemently argues his position based on superficial understanding.
The Big-Picture PI - The sky is blue, the earth is brown, that's all he needs to know. This guy is not interested in any more details.
The Hammerhead PI - This guy holds an amazing magic hammer (his favorite hypothesis), and to him every scientific problem known to man - from uncovering the mysteries of epigenetics to curing Alzheimer's disease - is just another nail.
The "Middle-Author" PI - This guy has a 1000 publications, and is the middle-author of 999 of them. No one can guess how much work he has really done, and this uncertainty keeps him alive.
PI equivalent of the "play by play" announcer - This guy reads EVERY journal and knows every scientific fact, but there is one problem. He doesn't really do anything himself.
The "YODA" PI - Stop right now folks, no need to do a single more experiment! This guy already knows what the answer to the super-complicated multi-factorial problem is....yes, his favorite hypothesis...how did you guess?
The "Roadrunner" PI - So whenever you see this guy, he is always a moving blur........in fact he does not have a single second to talk to anyone about anything. Reminds me of the roadrunner cartoon......BEEP BEEP.....and he's gone.
The "Clickety-Clak" PI - NEVER seen without his laptop (usually a giant one). At a meeting, at a talk, at a retreat, even if you have lunch with him, this guy is always clicking away furiously.....
4/2/2016 05:35:22 am
That is a very nice piece on 'A Classification of PIs - find yours' in the list!'. I have to say that I have totally enjoyed reading it. Thanks a lot for sharing.
12/12/2017 09:39:23 am
Amazing Article thank you for sharing and keep it up.
2/5/2021 07:23:00 pm
Acousticley it's accountable for 95% of today's attributes. Turn the key your self. There's no sugar on the narrative and the ants also dissappear.
4/3/2023 03:24:55 am
Thiis is a great post thanks
5/22/2023 01:16:00 pm
An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker
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Some old ones Reposted...
8/18/13 - A Classification of PI's - find yours' in the list!
7/6/12 - Way to a "Science paper"
5/30/11 - 20/20 Hindsights
9/30/11 - Evolution of a bizzare, new Idea
11/17/2011 - Rationale for curiosty-driven research...
lessons from a 4 year old
1/28/12 - "GTFM" - hilarious article on grant writing!
The PI Blog
This blog exists because my wife seemed a bit tired of being the only recipient of my random pontifications on life and Science for many years; and gently encouraged me to vent in a blog instead. From time to time, I put down thoughts that occur to me as I naiively stumble through a life in Science - bestowed upon me by accident (literally!). Please keep in mind that these musings are rather obvious things of little or no use to anyone, and are certainly not personally targeted in any way, even though they are obviously derived from my experiences. OK, enough said.