>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.
>Well, I'm sure that this is to be expected, but still I am finding this pretty funny (thus the hilarity tag). I am on the faculty search committee for our department next year! It has been less than a year since I began putting together my own job application packet, and now I will be sitting in judgement (well, 1/3 judgement at least) of others. Note that I have not officially started my appointment yet as an Asst. Prof., but what the hell?
WTF! I'm on the search committee!?
I agreed to be on the committee for a couple of reasons: 1. It will probably be pretty enlightening to see a job search from the other side. 2. I would like to at least have SOME input into shaping the future of the Dept. 3. I figure that if I sit on this committee I can be too busy for any others 4. I'm not sure I was allowed to say no.
In any event, after less 3 months as an Asst. Prof., I will be involved in sorting through the next generation of applicants. Am I insane or is this like the blind leading the blind? Back in the day, when I was a lowly grad student, I once had a jr. faculty tell me that job searches were so random that it came down to someone walking into a room with a stack of applications, throwing them high into the air, and then picking the 5-10 that happen to land on the table. I assumed that was a metaphor. Now I am not so sure. I would say that this should be fun except that I'm pretty sure it will be a shit-ton of work.
Seriously, this shit is cracking me up.
>My favorite South Park episode of all time, bar none, is the one featuring the underpants gnomes in season 2. There are many reasons that this episode appeals to me, but right now I'm thinking about the business management aspect. For those that haven't seen/don't remember this episode, the boys end up learning about running a business from some gnomes that steal underpants (phase 1: steal underpants, phase 2: ?, phase 3: profit!).
I'm writing grants again tonight, and it has been sinking in that, as a new PI, I am going to be running a business. Phase 1: get money, phase 2: make "science", phase 3: profit! (get more $). I need to get WAY more organized with my accounting. I have some really great spreadsheets that a friend of mine put together to manage lab finances (this person was in business before heading off to grad school). But somehow, keeping these up to date always gets knocked off the priority list.
I really have to get better at this. I'm spending money to get the lab functional, but I need to get on top of things before they are out of control. I really don't want to be that PI that ends up firing a tech because all of the sudden I get a call that our money is gone. Not only that, but better managing of phase 1 will only help with phase 2 and 3, right? Obviously you are not trained to run a lab when you are a postdoc-but it is really clear that right now I need to reorganize my priority list, stat!