A new grant proposal
Have I mentioned I like making work for myself? I mean, I really don’t I am a lazy person! I would prefer to do absolutely nothing, I swear, but for whatever reason, I keep making new work. As much as I love the stuff I do, this particular bit of work is my dream. And dreams cost money, so unfortunately because my dream has been unfunded, we haven’t had a chance to do anything with it. I mean we have, but not quite.
There’s science to be had! At least, that’s what I’m hoping. For those of you who are wondering what the hell is going on and who this crazy person is, a while back I had an idea, a “big idea.” It was one of those ideas you can only have when you sit at the intersection of a bunch of different fields and pull a handful of disjoint ideas together to make something greater than the sum of their parts. In other words, I was uniquely suited for this big idea and since then we’ve been trying to make it a reality.
When I pitched big idea to hospital-PI and explained to him all the great benefits from it he got genuinely excited. For those unaware, hospital-PI is one of the most skeptical people I know, so you have done some serious homework to show that what you’re saying is true or he will opt not to believe it until proven otherwise. It’s a good thing and I like that about him, truely. But even his skepticism was no match for big idea and he immediately threw some money at me to make the project a reality.
Since then we’ve done some experiments, collected some data, and learned a few things along the way. It’s been an exhausting journey because all of this is extra, as in on top of the workload we already had going on. But science is a race to be the first to discover something new and we are very much in that race now. The data we’ve collected has been helpful, but it’s been more practice than actual big idea. We used the same tools, but in different use cases and that underscores the versatility of the idea, but it’s not the big splash I want to make.
While we are collecting data and hopefully will be getting our first “real” big idea participent soon (fingers crossed!!!!!!!!), there are some issues we’ve had that I would like to resolve. For that, we need money and more than we have laying around for misc lab purchases, we need a sizeable chunk of money. When a scientist wants money, they need to write a grant and that’s basically where we are now. Oh did I mention we have like a week to finish it? Because it’s not hard enough to write one as it is, we have a seriously close deadline.
The grant would cover the equipment I need to make the ideal setup for big idea! Not that I can say what the idea is or how it works, but I’ve mentioned the fact that right now we’re using a ton of different systems to get the information we need because our main system for data collection is limited. We need something new that has a much higher limit. Because lab equipment is so expensive, we can’t just run out and buy it like I did when I spent all my time hand crafting the equipment needed.
The grant will cover the cost of the new equipment and ideally will help fund the project as a whole. In a perfect world, this would mean I can slowly nudge my way over to working on it full-time or at least mostly full-time. Hospital-PI would want me on other projects as well, right now I’m working on like five or so not including big idea, so that may not change much, but one can hope!
The proposal itself is just a few pages thankfully. Hospital-PI and I have already co-authored grants in the past (non-funded unfortunately), so I know we work well together in that regard. I have to take a moment to say how grateful I am to have such amazing people to work with, between hospital-PI and school-PI I’ve really lucked out. Both are great in their own ways and it makes for a good experience for me, even if they don’t always agree with each other.
While this whole ordeal is making a lot of work for me, this is a good time in my career for me to do it. Ideally this will make me more competitive when it comes time to graduate and look for either a postdoc or job somewhere. I already know which route I would like to go, but we’ll have to wait and see (no spoilers, sorry). Also, while I don’t have a lot of free time (any free time), it’s only temporary until I graduate (I tell myself like I believe it…) and I want to make the most of my last year before I make the jump to the next phase of my career, hopefully it will benefit me in the long run basically.
If I made a list of all the stuff I’ve had to do today I would be here basically all night, but if all goes well I’ll finally be able to share big idea with the world and I wouldn’t even have finished my PhD yet. That wouldn’t be too bad if you ask me.
The amount of time taken away from actual work to decide who should get the money to do the work is yet another thing that burns me up a little bit. I mean, it’s necessary to do some kind of evaluation, but I wonder if the cost outweighs the benefit sometimes – much like the overbearing security and anti-fraud measures we’ve already talked about.
I’ve mostly managed to stay out of helping with proposals at my job, but I gather that some employees end up sinking a fair bit of time into them. All our competitors are expending similar time, and it ends up being wasted for every company but the one that wins. Sometimes the top two or three companies are even expected to do a preliminary design so the customer can choose whoever did the best work on Phase One. This surprised and disturbed me when I first learned it; I didn’t think anyone would countenance that much duplicate human effort. In theory it leads to a better product in the end, but the waste …
Anyway, I hope that the grant proposal doesn’t end up being too much trouble for you, and that the value in what you’re doing is evident and gets you the funds. Maybe if you get the better equipment, the future experiments will be less work? One can hope!
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July 9, 2022 at 7:56 pm
Yeah it’s wild. We’ve written grants before, I’ve only successfully got funding for one grant that I’ve written, so like 33% success? Which is high, but mostly by luck and size of the grant. Hopefully this works out too, but we’ll see. The new equipment will make my life sooooo much easier!
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July 10, 2022 at 4:17 pm