After a PhD in Biomedical Engineering (focus on Imaging and Robotics) with a decent publication record and some prestigious fellowships, I took on an industry research position at a well-known company, where I've been for 1.5 yrs. Still, I've kept one foot in academia with the goal/hope of one day returning (for the usual reasons: opportunity to do longer-term research, publish, mentor, etc).
Specifically, I've been collaborating with a well-known PI from a different field (Neuroscience) who needed help with a "side-project" (applying machine learning and related techniques to complex neuroimaging data). The project has gone further than expected, and we are close to publishing a paper. I expressed interest in continuing this work and, to my surprise, he invited me to interview; it went well, and I've been offered a postdoc position. Furthermore, since he lacks computational expertise, he wants to set me up with a co-mentor who is renown in the machine learning field.
I'm looking for opinions on how risky it'd be to make this jump. My concerns are:
- Field change. While I've taught myself a range of computational techniques through this project (and through my industry job), my prior publications were not in this field. Neuroscience is even newer for me. Even assuming a productive postdoc, I worry about my competitiveness for future TT positions compared to people who did their PhD's in these exact areas (what do I bring that they couldn't bring?). I'm also concerned about my CV appearing disjointed.
- The mentorship situation, since the PI himself is not a computational expert. The people in the co-mentor's lab are experts, of course, but I do not know them as well (yet).
Reasons this could be great:
- I get to do more long-term, basic research in an area in which I've always been interested.
- The main PI and I have worked well together, and he is genuinely interested in mentoring me, helping me apply for postdoc/early-career funding, establish independence, etc.
- If the co-mentorship situation works out as planned, I'll receive great training from both sides.
- Hopefully by having a head start and being close to a paper already, I'd hit the ground running.
My options are pretty straightforward: Say no and continue my current industry job; say no and start looking for strong postdoc labs closer to my area of expertise (or another industry research position that prioritizes publications and longer-term research); or jump on board and swim!
TLDR: I'm "stuck" between two good options - terrible situation, I know. Still, I've been on the fence, as it's hard giving up a permanent position in industry for a risky alternative. I'd like to know if my concerns are valid, and I'm curious what others would do in my shoes. Apologies for the overly long post, and thanks very much for the feedback!