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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Victim of my own success

As I mentioned in my last post, I realize that I have been far more MIA than I would like on this blog. A big part of the problem is that things are going so well. I am being asked to do more invited talks, be on more panels, nominated of more awards (requiring me to fill out nomination forms and to attend banquets), advise more students who are writing more papers and to participate in more grants.

OK. I know that this is a good problem to have and that all of this probably makes someone just starting crazy. Actually I met someone like this a about a year and a half ago and she drove me crazy. But it really is a problem to be too busy and have too many good things to choose from and that is where I am now.

Before I had to beg/cajole students into my group, but now they are applying in droves, and the question is how do I know who is any good? I used to have long email discourses with perspective students discussing research and papers, now I am lucky if I can send them my form letter (describes research in the lab and how many people we plan to hire etc) a month after they email me. And papers and grants, don't get me started. I haven't wrote a full NSF or NIH grant as lead PI in over a year. I am co-PI on so many other projects that require reports and 1 page descriptions of my research and slide presentation and highlights that I hardly have time to breathe. I will however write several this summer, which I really need to do. I managed to squeeze out several papers last year but the timeline from on my desk to submitted is an embarrassing 6 months or more. And because things are going well, I am being asked to do more at the university as well, from meeting with donors to lunch with the visiting speaker.

All of this is great and I realize that I will get little sympathy for this problem, but if someone could offer any advice on the transition from assistant professor just starting to associate professor with lots of projects etc. I would be grateful


At 6:57 PM , Blogger Balancing Act said...

You have my sympathy.

I have had a situation where I was the victim of my own success and problems arose from it, so I can empathize. Albeit, this is not a current situation.

I think the perception is that once you are successful in this biz, the pressure decreases and you have a bit more breathing space. It's good to know it's not true.

At 4:57 PM , Blogger NJS said...

I've expressed a similar problem to which people have responded without much sympathy. I have enough ability in several fields that I could follow any of them professionally. Which one do I choose?

An abundance of choices can be just as difficult as too few choices.

At 11:01 AM , Anonymous Dr. Shelie said...

Perhaps, taking time each morning to prioritize for the day, and ruthlessly pushing down to the bottom of the day (or next week, or next year) the things that don't fit with your real goals, interests, things you are excited about? Seems like it is all that you can do... time is finite, everyone wants a piece of it, and you have to keep reminding yourself what *you* care about most.


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