Sunday, September 20, 2009

No, really, I am

Over a month ago, I was commenting--OK, OK, whining--about how ridiculously busy I was and then had a 2-page research proposal to write in one week to compete for a training grant at BRI.

Based on the timeline supplied by the grant admin, I had anticipated hearing a decision a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't, so I assumed that I hadn't gotten it.

Then a few days ago, I received an email of congratulations--I'm on the training grant.

My reaction: Woo hoo (i.e. slight enthusiasm). This provides a buffer period, during which my salary is paid (taking a little pressure off Guru) and giving me some critical time to gather crucial preliminary data for fellowship proposals. This is absolutely necessary as (1) there are two components of my project, which we think are connected but have no evidence for at this time, and (2) I want to propose in vivo experiments, but we have no prelim data for this aim--Guru's lab does a lot of in vivo work but not with regard to the mechanism/pathways I'm studying. So even though I have funding for the next year, I have an enormous burden of data to generate in the next 2 to 6 months (corresponding to submission deadlines). And my first experiment since the lab's move was kind of a bust--not because I didn't see what I had hoped, but mainly because of technical issues. I mean, is it too much to ask for antibodies that detect what the company claims without picking up 30 nonspecific bands?

Anyway Guru congratulated me earlier in the week while I was in the midst of preparing for an experiment, so I didn't have much to say.

He subsequently announced at lab meeting that I had gotten this fellowship, which evidently is pretty competitive. I sat quietly, probably with reddened cheeks and likely looking uncomfortable--because I generally don't like being the center of attention even when it's of the positive variety.

Later Guru approached me and commented that I didn't seem very excited about this fellowship. I was caught off guard. I assured him that I was excited, but I had just had a lot of other things going on. I'm not sure he was convinced.

There are many factors contributing to the lack of visible excitement:
  • At PSU, getting on a training grant of this sort wasn't exactly difficult. The grant's director said, hey, we've got x spots open. Your PI said, I want to put student A on it. You wrote a brief paragraph for grant records. And that was that. I'm simply not accustomed to an institutional training grant being a competitive award.
  • I haven't felt great this week. Hell, I haven't felt great for a long time. And when I feel like crap, I don't get overly excited about much of anything.
  • I really have had a lot going on, both in and out of the lab. So for me, it was one of those hey-that's-cool-now-let's-get-back-to-work moments.
  • I have a bit of a complex when it comes to being made the center of a group's attention based on my achievements. (And yes, putting it in writing in that manner does make me realize how bizarre it sounds.)
After Guru's comment, I felt kind of bad about my lack of outward reaction/enthusiasm. I feel that I should explain myself. I don't want him doubting my commitment to his lab or this project because I am excited about the possibilities.


P.S. - I really have missed blogging over the past few weeks... as you might guess by the appearance of three posts in less than 24 hours. Thanks for staying with me :)


Comrade PhysioProf said...

I'm simply not accustomed to an institutional training grant being a competitive award.

Yeah, I've never heard of such a thing before. Usually, the PIs of training grants want to keep all the discretion of who to appoint as trainees to themselves, rather than delegate it to some sort of review panel, because it gives them power.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience recently. My Boss came in to tell me that my paper was accepted - and I really was excited but apparently I didn't show it enough. His comment was "you don't seem excited" - I felt bad because I think he was dissapointed, and I ended up floundering for some excuse, when really I was just in the middle of something at that moment.

Congratulations on the training grant :)

biochem belle said...

That was my previous experience as well, PhysioProf. I found out in a subsequent conversation with my advisor the competition I was up against.

Mrs. Chemist-Thanks! Maybe the next time something good happens, we should completely overreact :)