We're a little crazy, about science!

A clear path!

The easy path to getting your PhD…

That was quick! I have an update regarding yesterday’s funding debacle already… it’s good news, but that’s all the hint you’re getting for now! Things are happening fast and frankly they need to I only have a few more days to finish the grant before its due for internal review and I don’t know how my Co-PI is feeling right now, but I’m stressed out!

I’m still trying to get used to giving some context to my posts. So a bit about the reason for daily blogging, I’m a neuroengineering PhD candidate and everyday I talk a little bit about the work I do to make it to the end of the program. I’m roughly two and a half years into my degree and have about two and a half left, so about half way. My work is on the spinal cord and how it communicates with the brain, more importantly the differences in communication after spinal cord injury. I’m pioneering a “super secret” technique to help me do this and so far it’s been successful. I’ve written two grants (the latest an R21) and when I’m not doing experiments or classes, my focus has been on finding the funding to take me to the end of the program. Now that you know a little bit about me we can talk about what’s going on today!

Yesterday I was mildly (extremely) nervous about the life of my R21 grant. I’ve been super busy working on the grant with my Co-PI and between the two of us we had roughly twelve edits before we sent it off to the scientific editor for review, then we’ll probably have two or three more rounds of edits before we submit it. The deadline is in three days so we don’t have a whole lot of time to get it done, but yesterday a rather large wrench was thrown into our well oiled plans when my main-PI said he wasn’t sure if it was going to be submitted.

After a flurry of emails between me and my two PI’s I discovered it was a money issue, isn’t it always? My main-PI wanted the funds to go to the school then to me, my Co-PI wanted the funds to go from the hospital to me. I was told I would get a more detailed explanation when I see my Co-PI next, but I suspect there’s an underlying benefit for the funds to be distributed in a particular manner, something lab related, probably budget related.

Basically if they couldn’t come to an agreement the grant would be dropped, my main-PI wants me to apply for a K99/R00 fellowship, which is for senior PhD students getting ready to transition to postdocs. I fall in the timeframe for it, so I’ll be applying no matter what happens, but it was a little disappointing that all that work and stress was going to amount to nothing. I mean practice is nice, but it felt pretty hollow to do it just for it to sit locked away on my computer instead of being reviewed by NIH so I at least know how well it was written.

I was also supposed to meet with my main-PI, but that didn’t happen, he never responded to my email, but my Co-PI reached out to let me know that the issue had been resolved and we were back on track for the submission. That’s the good news, the bad news is that I still have the figures to get done! Technically I need two, practically one will suffice. I have a placeholder figure that would be sufficient for the second one if I can’t finish it in time. We have to submit the grant for internal review by the 9th and submit to NIH by the 15th,which is not a lot of time, especially with school going on in the background.

A small, but happy update for the day. I hope to finish one if not both of my plots today so I can start focusing on school stuff. It’s tough to balance everything, but so far nothings falling too far behind. After this term it will be all research, all the time, which will be a relief! I would like to graduate on time (5 years total) so funding and time to do the work are both very important things that I need to make sure I have if I want to graduate. Two and a half years may seem like a lot of time, but there’s still so much work to get done. I’ve never chosen the easy path in life, my PhD journey has been no different.


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