Grant Writing and Competition
It has been a while since my last post. I wrote a nice one that got eaten by the blogger interface and then was so depressed I didn’t try again for a while. Things here are very mixed. I am wrapping up my experiments and getting ready to move from postdoc to PI. That part is really, really exciting. I have been submitting abstracts for next fall and I get to put my R1U (Research 1 Univ) contact information. It really makes my heart swell. On the otherhand, I have had my first indoctrination into departmental politics.
I wanted to apply for a award/grant for new investigators. This particular award will allow only one submission per university and can only be applied for during your first year as a PI. The fields targeted are narrow so it is really only between my department and one other. In July , my department asked the other department if I could have the nomination and they said yes. I have been preparing my application, which is due in mid-May, for the last few months carefully honing it. I even emailed past recipients to use their 'winning' submissions as examples. Then, I submit my application to the department chair, who sends it over to OSP (office of sponsored projects, the clearing house for all grants in a university). You can probably guess where this is going, they say that they already have a submission from the other department , who seem to have casually forgot their commitment to us.
I raised a giant ruckus, carefully delineating the reasons why I should be the candidate, including my careful planning, already completed proposal, and the fact that I have already submitted half my materials to the agency (which would have to be retracted if we change the candidate). The short of it is that they have decided to have an internal competition between myself and the other candidate to see who should get the nomination, which seems sort of fair, but frustrating. I feel pretty confident. I have sent my proposal to everyone I can imagine and received plenty of comments, but mostly everyone says it is a strong proposal. Given my lack of confidence in my proposal writing (and acceptance rates hovering near 8-10% don't help raise that at all), I swelled with pride when I got those comments back. But, my CV may not be as strong as the other candidate. I have an average number of pubs, but not an overwhelming number, and only one in a high impact journal. Also, most of the pubs from my postdoc are still being written, so I am sitting on a ton of data, but none of it counts 'cause its not even submitted yet. I just hope the quality of my ideas shows through.
The one thing I can say is that my chair is a real trooper. It just goes to show how important it is to have a strong department chair that will go to bat for you. This is something I didn't really think about during the interview process, but definitely feel the value of now. Well, wish me luck!