Candid Engineer has reached a critical turning point in the gradual maturation of a scientist from bench jockey to Principal Investigator.
I don't know if I ever really realized that the day would come when I wouldn't understand the details of experiments being done in my name. That at some point, my interns would be doing experiments that I can't even pronounce, that they'd be teaching one another, without passing the information through me. That one would come to me and say, "I've been thinking about it, and I'm almost positive that it would be better to smash the Mango peel before adding it to the blender". And that I'd look at him, and think "I have no fucking clue what he's talking about because I don't know how to operate the blender", but somehow smile and say, "I trust you, you know what is best experimentally"
That day had better arrive or your are going to be in for a world of hurt as a lab head trying to survive and get some science accomplished.
Keep this in mind when it comes to junior PIs at the bench. Tattoo it on the back of your/their eyelids.
It is NOT your job to be a postdoc, grad student or tech. You are the lab head and you have other duties which require your attention.
qaz is demented:
As exhilarating as it is, I strongly recommend that you learn how to use the blender. Even once. You really don't want to cede control of the details. Let the intern teach you.
There is a classic story about a postdoc who came into a new lab, asked about the control solution to calibrate an instrument which needed to be calibrated each time before use, and got told "we don't need to do that anymore" by the tech. (Tech was incorrect BTW.) When the PI found out, the feathers flew because over two years of data was garbage.
There is nothing about this little vignette that requires the PI to know every detail..in most cases. The PIs job is to look for weird stuff in the data, ask about proper controls and validation, etc. To make the people closer to the science explain the science, if not the specific details until it is relevant. The PIs job is to be alert for when something is not adding up. Like the "garbage" data to which qaz refers.
YES, it is risky. There are going to be screwups, some of them quite painful and time consuming.
This is the cost of doing business.
The more successful PI concentrates her time on getting good people, training them properly and backstopping their interpretation of their results. NOT on micromanaging each technique and experiment.
That way lies disaster.