Archive for: March, 2013

A bedtime story for my study section

Mar 28 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Once upon a time, there lived a brilliant young(ish) neuroscientist and former bartender named Dr. Becca. Dr Becca lived in a decrepit old building in a small, cold hamlet called NJC. There was a dumpster outside her living room window.

But despite her sub-par living conditions, Dr Becca was generally a happy person, because she loved being a neuroscientist. She loved designing experiments and training future neuroscientists, and even teaching undergrads a little bit. One of the most important parts of her job, however, was to convince some HIGHLY INTELLIGENT and EXTREMELY GOOD-LOOKING, NOT TO MENTION WORLD-RENOWNED scientists to tell the government to give her money so that she could continue to be a neuroscientist. So she thought and she thought and she leaned back in her purportedly ergonomic desk chair that still managed to give her a mild case of sciatica until she had an idea.

And this idea--well, it was a pretty great idea. The work that Dr Becca so eloquently proposed to do, and that she illustrated so well in clearly-labeled color figures, would open up a whole new line of research that could continue for decades. Moreover, it had clear clinical relevance, in that it could help treat an underserved population that increasingly suffers from an exceptionally topical illness. It was, you might say, a perfect proposal with respect to the goals set forth in the RFA.

Dr Becca sent her great idea through a series of tubes to the DC Metro area, where the idea sat for nearly five and a half months. In the interim, Dr Becca attended several scientific meetings, got married, hired a post-doctoral fellow, created a new course for the undergrads at her university, wrote a review article, went on a honeymoon to Europe, had said review article get accepted, and watched her first grad student kick ass presenting his Masters' thesis.

And then finally, just 4 days before Dr Becca's [redacted] birthday, the INDIMIDATINGLY BRILLIANT and SERIOUSLY ATTRACTIVE scientists met to talk about Dr Becca's idea, as well as a few others. And on that day, the EMINENT, WISE, and EFFORTLESSLY STYLISH scientists agreed that it was essentially an objective truth that Dr Becca's idea was the best in the group, and they gave her a priority score and corresponding percentile that was in no uncertain terms well below payline for her IC.

Several months later, Dr Becca's institution gladly accepted the award on her behalf, and Dr Becca went on to continue her career as a paradigm-shifting but remarkably modest neuroscientist until the world was rid of mental illness. And as for the NOBEL-DESERVING, DORIAN GRAY-YOUTHFULNESS LEVEL scientists that made it all happen? Well, they all lived long, luxurious lives, devoid of health problems until they died peacefully in their sleep with their loved ones by their side, and several buildings erected in their name at their respective alma maters.



Sweet dreams, you sexy beasts of study section. Please be kind tomorrow.

6 responses so far

Everybody poops (and gets rejected)

Mar 20 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

In 2009-10--effectively, the last year of my post-doc, I applied for some things. A K99/R00, a NARSAD fellowship, and a small foundation grant, not to mention a few travel awards. And I didn't get any of them. By the time the last rejection rolled in (not to mention all the job application no-thank-yous), I actively began to think that maybe I was just not very good at applying for things, which did not bode well for my future as a TT hopeful, since a giant proportion of our job is to successfully apply for things.

But I did somehow manage to land this gig, and when I started in my new position, I applied for an R21 right away, which was funded. And with that, I thought maybe I can do this after all! I have overcome my badness at applying for things. Since then, though, I've applied for 5 grants and two travel awards. Three grants are still out for review, but 2 grants and the 2 travel awards have come back negative, and I can feel myself starting to lose faith again in my ability to compete for things. I know that this is silly, and that there are certain general principles of probability at work here, but still.

The reality is that most of us get way more rejections than acceptances, but we can lose sight of how normal that is, and allow ourselves to spiral down into self-doubt, which is v bad! So please use the comments here as an open thread to lament about all your recent rejections, triages, non-invitations to submit full applications, etc. It will make you feel better, I promise!

And to make you feel further better (or at least hungry), here's a picture from my honeymoon. This is the view from our flat in Aix-en-Provence. We ate more cheese on that trip than I have probably eaten in the last 6 months combined.


63 responses so far