>Since my appointment to asst. prof 23 days ago, I have submitted 3 grant applications. The first was a non-competitive transition of my K99 to R00 phase (that seems to be going well), the second was for a pilot grant (it is not yet clear if there is actually any money for these grants-wtf), and the third was a short proposal for an internal competition to apply for a young investigator award (I will NOT be one of the applicants this year). I have 3 more deadlines on the calendar so far. I really hope that I can make it through the internal competition to get to apply to at least 1 of them. Sigh. But enough wallowing. Moving on.
I have been very busy the last couple of weeks getting people in my lab. This week I think that everyone is to the place that data can start to be produced. wOOt!!1!!!1!! Here's the rub-I have to leave tomorrow for a family vacation. Yes, HAVE TO. I've been told this is not optional, even though I'm a little nervous leaving my nOOb lab peeps alone with no guidance. We spent a lot of time this week going around to our neighbors asking for little things (today I realized we had no EDTA, for example). I'm hoping that this instills a feeling in my peeps that they can go outside the walls of our little fiefdom lab for help. No doubt that I will be jumping anytime my phone makes a sound over the next few days, though.
Today I joined my first grad committee. A student that I've spoken to a few times (rather informally) stopped by my office to see if I would replace someone on his committee that is leaving the dept. I hope that this will serve as a way to learn how committees function from the other side of the table without having my first meeting be a general exam. We'll see.
OK, back to work. I have some papers to get out and grants to write. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for me -- maybe there will be some data waiting for me when I get back next week!
>First of all, thanks to everyone that un-lurked for the meme post. I read all the comments, and it is pretty fun knowing who is out there. One theme seemed to be that folks were interested in how the new TT job goes. I believe that you often learn more when something goes wrong than when all is smooth. If that is true, I must have learned a SHIT-TON the last couple of weeks.
Anywho, prepare to be learned:
The last two weeks have been crazy. I don't think that I have EVER been this wiped out. It all started happily enough, by getting folks into my lab wOOt!!!!!!11!1!11!! I got an hourly employee that was super helpful- orders were getting placed, boxes were getting unpacked, NLSU rebates were being processed. So, I hire a tech and pick up an undergrad. We had a lab-warming party! Now we're gonna start making some data! All is well in GZ Lab.
This is where I mess up. It turns out...drumroll, please...training people takes A LOT of time. And I have a grant due in 12 days! A grant that I was writing on something that isn't currently on the front burner. So it was a lot of work. Except that I have to spend all my days training my peeps. Except I really need to be writing. But my peeps...but the grant...this is where implosion occurs. I haven't been getting a lot of sleep.
I know that for my lab to be successful I will need to get different projects funded. I'm OK with that. Hell, I'm excited to be able to keep all my projects going full steam all of the time. Because up to now I have been the only hands doing the work. I have always been in small labs without a lot (or any) technical assistance-all but 1 of my pubs are 2-author deals. So I stepped in a steaming pile of crap because I underestimated how much time training people would take. In the end it all worked out. I met my grant deadline, and next week experiments will be up and running! This morning, I slept in. Then I played with kiddo all day. It was good. Tomorrow I'll go back to the lab and get the next couple of grants planned out so that I can avoid the pile next time. Because one of the crystal-clear lessons from the last two weeks is that I need to be more efficient with my writing.
>I was a little cranky earlier as a result of the endless grant writing. (I mean srsly, I've submitted my 3rd application and I've only been faculty for 3 working days.). But all that is over. I have folks in the lab doing WORK!! (woo hoo) AND the sun finally came out and summer seems to be starting. AND to top it all off, I got to watch the Dutch beat up on Uruguay over lunch.
Since I'm in such a happy mood, I thought that I would share a super website I found: Materials for Nurturing Scientists. This is from Uri Alon's website, and there is some good stuff for Grad Students. And also a link to the New PI forum, which I like. Anwho, it's good stuff. You should read it, IMHO.
>I have been seeing the "who the heck are you" meme on a lot of blogs. DM has a list of many of them. Anywho, since I have apparently been tagged (hee hee) and my arm is getting sore from all the twisting, I'll play along.
For the few folks out there reading this: Who are you, and why are you staring at me?
>So, what should you do when you think that a colleague is taking advantage of a graduate student?
First, some background. I moved across town to start my own lab. This has several practical consequences. First, and most awesome, I can move my experiments from one place to another with minimal interruption. But what I want to focus on today is that I already know most of the faculty that are my colleagues. Generally, this is good. I had a super postdoc and I get along with almost everyone in the community. But there are also bound to be kind of awkward times, as these folks have to accept me into the secret faculty club and realize that I know the handshake, too.
This brings me to the current situation. I was talking to a graduate student the other day. It was a hallway interaction, she had not searched me out for advice. I have known this grad student for several years, and she is one of the superstars in a highly-ranked graduate program. By every metric, she should be graduating. Now. Turns out, her advisor has been suggesting that she stick around for another year or two. In return, she can "take what she works on with her". WTF? That doesn't make sense. Where exactly is she taking this "new project"? To her postdoc in some other lab? We are in one of the biomedical fields where a postdoc is required to stay on the academic track, which is what she wants to do.
As I pressed further, Pre-doc superstar told me that she is the only person in the lab that knows how to work the Magical Data Machine. She is also, bar far, the most productive person in Dr. Advisor's lab. If she sticks around for longer, she will probably publish one or two more papers. But she will have a LONG graduate career. I think that Dr. Advisor is thinking more about his own lab than the career of Pre-Doc Superstar.
I told this student that I thought she should move on to learn something new. That I felt staying in the Grad Lab was not the best move for her, career-wise. I told her that it was not her job to worry about Dr. Advisor's lab, but that he should be more concerned about her career development. I also told her to ask other faculty in the program for advice. I generally get along with Dr. Advisor, though we have had our moments. Hopefully this won't come back to bite me in the ass.