Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Roller Coaster Ride

Who says that being a faculty member isn't fun. Check out my week:

End of last week- my postdoc was doing some really cool experiments that if successful could lead to a Science paper (Egad!). Of course they didn't work. It's not that they didn't work, but rather that we ran into some technical glitches that can be fixed and try again. Of course my postdoc just left to visit his home country for three weeks so I am playing the waiting game. I am deliriously happy in anticipation of my lab's first independent high impact paper.

In my excitement I call government agency program officer to ask if I can send my proposal on this exciting work to agency's announcement X. Program officer says X isn't really a good fit, but is so excited about my work that he literally says "we have to fund you." Program officer sends me helpful documents designed to help me formulate good specific aims for my idea and even offers to help me edit them into a review friendly format and identify a program/subdivision to send them to. I am about to burst with enthusiasm.

Monday- Postdoc emails to tell me that he is having visa issues and may get back a little late. Visa issues? I didn't even know that there was anything going on with his visa, but apparently there is. Not be put off, I attack grad student that postdoc is training and ask if he can do the research independently. Grad student is excited and may be able to do it, but it will definitely be a set back.

Also, I frantically draft aims to send back to program officer. I forward aims to collaborator and postdoc (assuming he even has email) and hope for the best.

Tuesday- I don't know what made me do it, but I am obsessed with the urge to do some book-keeping. I discover that I have 8 months of funding left. Given that all my proposals from Summer and Fall were rejected and it takes almost a year to get money from the time you submit, I begin to panic. I fear lab having massive flame-out. Dear Husband manages to quite me down with ice cream and American Idol and promises of support if I end up unemployed.

Wednesday- I ask collaborator why he hasn't replied to my aims email yet. Program officer is waiting! Collaborator apparently was unaware I expected a reply. We begin a back and forth dialog on project feasibility. Using some back of the envelope calculations that he has recently shown me how to make I determine that *big idea* is not quite as feasible as I thought. It is still possible, but not easy. Also, I discover at meeting of "Center" that others on campus are doing similar (but still different) work. I start to feel that I may not be as wildly creative as I thought.

I go home in a mixed mood only to be told upon arrival that (A) My son was "asked" to leave preschool an hour early for beating up his classmates and (B) our phone and internet service are completely down because someone severed a wire. (B) is a huge problem because I am going to a review panel next W and need to review 8 proposals between now and then and had big review/american idol plans. I am just about to collapse into giant sobs (although alcohol also entered my mind), but husband is supportive and I make it through.

Thursday (Today)- Still waiting for reply from collaborator to my last set of calculations. Argh, want to get something to program manager soon! Still haven't heard from postdoc (since Monday). Grad student is trying to get by as best he can, but in a positive turn, informs me that he has started a manuscript draft! Postdoc #2 also informs me that the data she was collecting for manuscript 1 looks like it is too much and will have to become manuscript #2! Then, I make plans to attend Neil Diamond concert with Best Friend From College (yes, influenced by American Idol). Also, I discover that Company interested in my work wants to move forward, and might give me money. Top it all off with, I made an error and I don't have 8 months of funding left, but 11!


At 7:10 PM , Blogger EcoGeoFemme said...

What a tumultous week! I hope you get the money and a paper in Science!

At 9:38 AM , Blogger Janus Professor said...

Awww! I wish that we were in the same town so that we could go to Sephora for makeovers. Tell my nephew that I will purposefully have a girl if he keeps acting up.

At 9:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ai yi yi! Hang in there.


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