Thursday, December 8, 2016

When you get a grant?

What do you do when you get a grant. I know the department and college will probably put your grant news in their news section and probably would also give you some publicity.

But do you let your group know that you have gotten a grant? If yes, how do you communicate this?

If you do not convey this directly to your group, why not?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What makes your grant fundable - Part 1

I had a grant submission deadline today which I successfully submitted.

But after the submission my caffeine induced brain kept on working and I have been thinking: What makes a grant successful? I am sure this question has been asked many times and would have been answered many times but I would try to give it a shot from my eyes. To be fair, I am no expert in grantsmanship what so ever. The grant applications that I think would have kicked ass failed miserable at NSF. And the applications that I thought have no chance of getting funding got funded !

Factors that makes an application from being mediocre to top of the stack.

1) Innovative: May be who knows. Very innovative gets shot down because the reviewer can say: "We don't know if this will work". Not very innovative and the reviewer might say "Well, we already know that and this is common knowledge/tool and is doable by an undergrad (and hence no funding).

2) Good Idea: Here by good I mean an idea that the reviewer is interested in and/or is excited about. Provided that there are at least 3 reviewers for the NSF/NIH grants. The probablity of having an idea that is exciting to all 3 at the same degree is rather pretty slim ( there is a sentense I though I will never use)

3) Good writing: Good writing is good as long as the reviewer is excited about the idea (see part 2 above). Good writing (Shakespeare style) and luke warm reception of the idea is not going to land you on the federal monies.

4) Connections: Well we all know people and we all know people who know people who are going to be on a panel. But we also know that people are self-serving. I personally know panelist who have shot down the application just because they were in competition with the proposer.

5) Relationship with the PO: Good relations with the PO is a pre-requistie. But this will NOT land you monies. PO generally dont do anything unless the reviewers dont give a nod. But a good relation with the PO can land your "grey area" grant into the funded one (if the stars and all the gods are on your side and you have a pony that can be classified as a unicorn and a flying saucer).

So here I have listed all the things that you THINK would land you into the funded pool of applicants. But you would be wrong !

Next time I will list the things that you have not even thought about these are factors that will get you in the funded list of super stars (may be you did think about those stuff and I didn't and now I am so I am going to assume that you didn't either; who can you go and complain to; It is my blog I can write whatever the hell I want ha ha)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Competitive and insecure

I was very recently told by a colleague that there are some students and even faculty who have talked about me and have told them that I am very competitive and insecure. I am going to eloborate a bit on both of these characteritsitcs. I am not sure how I feel about them and hence the blog post.

1) Competitive: I am very competitve and strive to the best in what ever circumstance. Be it edcuation, research or sports. I am like this because I came from a third world country and from a middle class family (not US kind of middle class but 3rd world kind of middle class). I learnt early in life that in order to excel I need to be super eaons ahead of my peers (who may have a social and/or resource advantage over me). My rationlae was that if I am the best in what I do then there is little else that would matter.

Although world is unfair the gamble worked. There wasn't much could be done and I did excel. I did come to US and had the same odds in terms of being an immigrant and a student. The gamble again paid off. Now I am a faculty in a research university in the US. I am in the world of cut throat research, grants, publications and politics. So hell yes ! I am very competitive and I think I would like to remain this way if I am to keep my edge.

I understand that this may rub off some students as well and they may not take this lightly. But I am not competing against these students. I am competing against the research giants and federal agencies and I cannot switch myself off when talking and/or training these students. I want them to be competitive as well.

2) Insecure: When you are constantly running to get ahead; and there are always people who are going to be smarter/with more federal monies/more and better publications etc. than I am; you are going to be a bit insecure as well. May be this is where my imposter syndrome comes as well. I am not sure how I feel about this but time will tell.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What makes you "known" in your field

A conversation with a colleague got me thinking. What makes a person "known" in their respective fields?

1) You have a solid publication record and your people see your work with consistency over the years. This is solid research and you get good results which results in high impact publications. Over the years of hard work this will make you known in the field.

2) You have just 1 or 2 "awesome/earth-shattering/" results that made you "known" in the field and you are cashing on this ever since. Even though you may not have produced anything worth while in the last 10 years.

I like to think that I belong to the first kind. I do not have any earth shattering results that will instantly put me in the lime light in my sub-fields. But I have solid research and papers are regular intervals that get published in high impact journals.

I believe that my consistent work over the years will make me "known" but I wont be a lime light star. But I think it will keep me motivated and hard working for years to come; instead of just cashing in on one result for decades.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

NSF grants over 6 (or 10 or more) months and on FSP

Either I write grant application that almost always lie in the middle of the stack (and hence the grey area). or  that funding agencies are slacking and does not know how to get their shit together.

Anyway I have an application that has been submitted 9 months ago and have been peer-reviewed. The peer review happened 6 months ago.

I emailed the PO some time ago but no response. I am hoping (fingers crossed) that this is a good sign and the PO is trying to find money for this application.

He better does; or there is nothing much I can do about it (sarcastic grin).

p.s. In other news the new baby is now 3 months old. And wakes up 4 times at night to get feeding. I have to do all the feeding since the mommy cannot do it. I also have to wake up at 6 in the morning so that I can go and teach. No one said it was going to be easy.

p.s.s. Yes I wish that FSP would come back. I used to read her early in the morning and that had a therapeutic effect on me. I am sure a lot of other people wish that as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On days that are only meetings

Since I am not a newbie any more I have to do service.
There are some days that I only do service meeting all day long. I have a love/hate relationship with these days. Want them to cease but I feel important as well..hehehe.

Gotta go and do another meeting that I am late for !

Monday, August 1, 2016

On code and authorship

I have a grad student who wrote an algorithm, wrote the code and published a paper out of this. As a general policy in the lab, all code must go in public domain i.e. all code must be made open source.

Now I have another undergrad student who is developing an interface for this code. Provided that the code from the grad student above is available in the public domain. The undergrad can use the code and develop the interface for the said algorithm.

Now comes the writing paper part. Since the undergrad is developing the interface, the undergrad should be the first authors since the underlying algorithm code is in the public domain.

However, the grad student came into my office and ate my brain for half an hour for why he should be the first author on the interface paper. I want to pull my hairs out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Paper published without my students name

In general I am very generous with my paper author list i.e. if some one contributed some idea, figure, anything else, I put their name in the authors list of the paper. This is to be fair and also to generate good will.

I have a student who used to work for another research group. He claims that he did around 50 to 60% of the work described in the paper (I believe him since he has no reason to lie). He also drew some of the figures in the paper.

However, when the paper got submitted (and published) his name was not in the authors list. He was not even in the acknowledgements.

He came to me and asked for advice on what he can do. He has already written to the senior author of the paper (who is yet to reply). Frankly, I didn't had any advice for him. I do not know what to do in these cases.

What would you do or can do? Is writing to the editors of the journal a fair play? How about writing to the funding agency? Has any one of you or student have been in this situation before?

Monday, April 18, 2016

How to deal with the administration (aka HOD)

HOD's have power and control over resources. This means that the HOD can determine if you get a support for a TA/RA/GA, you get space, travel money or other resources.

 I have in writing that the HOD has promised a certain type of support. However, now that it is time to give the support all I am getting is stall-game.

I don't know how to deal with this situation. Note that I am a TT guy who hasn't gotten tenure yet. So what I do has to be in this context.

How do you approach/deal with situation with the HOD so that you get what you need or want or as in this case promised.

(I really hope that I had training in this context as well when I was a postdoc. But my postdoc advisor was a very good person and was always there to support and keep his word)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

the semester that does not end

This semester has been a roller coaster for me.

1) I had to do a new prep for a course which sucked a lot of time. But I did enjoy teaching the course and hopefully would not have to do the new prep again.
2) I had family/personal issues which again sucked a lot of time.
3) Had 2 grants rejected. Wrote 2 new grants and submitted. In preperation of submitting atleast 2 more during the summers
4)The semester does not seem to end. Since it has been a bit tiring for me it seems that the time is moving slower.

But now that the family issues are a bit mellowed out; hopefully I will get more done and at last the semester will end. And the summers will begin where I will enjoy the heat and work.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Imposter Syndrome

Height of imposter syndrome is when you win an college-wide new shiny award and think that they gave it to you by mistake.

and then stand on the stage and think why did they give it to me?

this is funny and sad at the same time.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

NSF Pending Grants and Grey Area -2

So I ended up calling the PO. He told me that I did not get it and it didn't go well in the panel.

I am so relieved ! like I am feeling light. Yes, I didn't get the grant so will see what is in the reviews and resubmit.

But rejection is far better than anticipation and anxiety !

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

NSF Pending Grants and Grey Area

I have an NSF grant that is pending and it has been (almost) 6 months. This is a source of anxiety as well as some hope for me. From what I have read on other blogs it seems that the particular grant probably would have fallen in the "grey" area.

I know there is not much I can do except for wait but in a given day I pendulum from joy to anxiety and back like 9 times. Let me try to explain my emotional roller coaster to you.

1) Most of my peers have received a decline email by now. So this is probably a good news for me since the grant must have fallen in the grey area AND the PO wants to fund it (hopefully).

2) The particular program that I have submitted my grant has not given away any of the awards yet. At least this is what I have been able to get from google searches. This indicates that may be the particular program is lagging in its review process. This can go either way.

I am probably some where in the middle and would get/not get a grant based on the monies the particular PO has. This middle is where the hope is and there also hides the anxiety that I do not know what to do about.

I also feel kind of alone in this as well since I don't know who to talk to. My family is not academic and do not understand the underlying anxieties of being a scholar. I do not have any close academic friends here in this small city. I had very close 2 academic/personal friends but 1 of them has chosen to join industry (couldn't get a TT position) and another has joined a university abroad (so doesn't have similar funding situation as me). So I feel I am alone in this TT position (which I am very grateful for don't get me wrong) but I wish I had some one who I could talk to about my grants and the anxieties without worrying about being judged. We all know if I can talk to my colleagues they are gonna judge me.

I plan to send PO an email once 6 months are complete but that is still 2 weeks away.