I got along well with my postdoc advisor. We worked well together, and he was very supportive of me as a trainee. When I started in the lab, we talked about my goal was to land a TT job. I started up a couple of new projects in the lab, and we agreed that I would take these with me when I left. Years passed, I wrote papers and fellowships, blah blah blah. I don't know if I would say my PD advisor was The Best Mentor, but I really think that I got what I needed out of the relationship. Then I went on the job market, and managed to wriggle into a position as an Assistant Professor. YAY!
And THIS is when my relationship with pd adviser started to get weird. All of the sudden, it became very difficult for me to have a normal conversation with PD advisor. When we chat, I keep getting the feeling that he is being very guarded. I asked him what was going on, and he basically said that he felt like I needed "some space". He seems to think that having too much interaction with my pd advisor will make it seem that I am not Independent.
To be clear: I am not trying to maintain collaborations with my old lab. But one thing that I have found is that being a new Asst. Prof can be a little...well...lonely. My colleagues are actually great, and I talk with them a lot. But no one has the same insight and background for talking about my specific research like my old pd advisor. And, though I am building my own group, right now there are times when I really miss the scientific interactions that I was used to as a postdoc. In short, I just don't understand how having a conversation with my pd advisor every 6-8 weeks is impeding my quest for Independence.
It has been exceedingly difficult for me to get him to sit down and submit the last couple of papers I have been working on. We finally got one submitted, but it was like pulling teeth. Even more than usual, I am NOT looking forward to dealing with the reviews. I have another manuscript in progress that I am also sort of dreading. This is a project that I started in PD lab, but most (60-75%) of the work was done in my own lab by my students. I will be senior and/or corresponding author, but since pd advisor will still be an author (I assume), there is the real possibility that he could make the whole thing a little more painful. Or at least slower.
And then, a few weeks ago I went to the same Conference as a new student in pd's lab. In the course of this meeting, it became clear that my pd advisor was continuing to work on one of the projects that we had agreed I would take with me for my own lab. I was floored. I am apparently now competing with my old pd advisor 🙁 I really did NOT see that coming. My colleague friends around here have advised me that I should pretty much quit talking to my old advisor, to reduce the likelihood that I get "scooped". AAAARGH!
So, WTF? I'm still trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Is this a normal "birth pang" of starting up a new lab?
EDIT: I had to add this, sent to me on the twitter by @kzelnio 🙂