Lately, I’ve been seeing phrases like this on the blogs of grad students and postdocs: “I hope to be a PI someday.”
Not professor. Not researcher. Not scientist. PI.
For the casual observer outside of academia, “PI” is not “Private investigator,” but “principle investigator.” It is grant-speak, words used by American funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to designate who is the lead researcher on a particular project.
It’s reflective of how people are increasingly defining their careers in science by whether they are able to pull in grant money. I don’t think it’s healthy either for the profession or for individuals.