Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dollar Thrills

We interrupt our regularly scheduled post to exult in what I hope is only a mildly obnoxious way about a new grant.

It's not as if I have grants raining from the sky all the time, but, in the course of my career, I have been fortunate to have had pretty good success/luck getting grants. So, although I certainly would never say that getting grants is routine for me, it's not a rare occurrence.

So this is what I was asked myself: After 15-20 years of getting grants, is it still exciting to get a new one or is it more like "OK, cool, here's another chunk of money to spend for a few more years"? Maybe it's the latter for people who have mega-labs with an endless stream of grants rolling in, but for me:

IT IS STILL VERY THRILLING.
IT IS DEFINITELY STILL VERY THRILLING.


In fact, when I get the good news about a new grant, I am always reminded of how exciting it was to get my first big grant many many years ago. Of course, the first big grant as an assistant professor came with an element of relief (as in, 'maybe I will actually get tenure' relief), but, even at mid-career, there is still a very similar feeling (as in, 'maybe I can actually support all these grad students and postdocs for a few more years' relief).

But the feeling is much more than just relief. There is also the satisfaction of the effort of proposal-writing coming to a successful result (against the odds). But mostly it's the thrill of being able to do extremely interesting research with an extremely excellent research team.

Then I asked myself: Does the magnitude of the thrill scale with the $ amount of the grant? That is, is it just as exciting to get a $40,000 exploratory grant as it is to get a $4,000,000 mega-grant? Yes.. but not quite as thrilling. I must confess: Really big grants are really thrilling.

21 comments:

Susan B. Anthony said...

Awesome! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

:)

mathgirl said...

Yeeee!!! I've also got a grant on Monday. Maybe I can actually get tenure! Hey, I do extremely interesting research!

Epiphron said...

Sadly, I'm still shooting 0-fer-3 with grants...

Anonymous said...

$4k = $4M. Do you mean $4MM?

unlikelygrad said...

Congratulations!

I know my advisor gets really excited about grants too--really really excited. And she's been tenured for 7-8 years now...I imagine it's a really common feeling.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, FSP!!! I'm super happy for you & your research team!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon @7:26: $4k = $4M

Anonymous said...

For me, it's a HUGE RELIEF in terms of financially supporting my research group of six graduate students and one post-doc. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night, worried about funding... So THRILLING - definitely - and RELIEVING!!!!

Anonymous said...

My PhD advisor would break out a bottle of champagne whenever a big grant was funded or renewed, and he was a hot shot in the field, had >30 people in the lab, MULTIPLE research grants, etc. It's nice to know that it never gets old, because it's something we all spend a lot of time on, and it's one of the ways we can feel "validated" in our work. (Thankfully not the only way, since rejections are much more common than awards!)

GMP said...

Yey! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

How thrilling it is depends more on how badly you need it, than what the amount is!

Female Computer Scientist said...

Congrats!

Anonymous said...

I know this is not at all the point, but I'm so confused by the math. To me, $4K = $4,000. $4M = $4,000,000. What 'M' is there other than 'million'??

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Oh, yeah! It never gets old!

My excitement level definitely scales relatively linearly with the amount of the grant award.

TheHyperbolicRxn said...

Congrats FSP!

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"To me, $4K = $4,000. $4M = $4,000,000. What 'M' is there other than 'million'??"

I think some of the readers of this blog are classics or medieval literature professors, and still use Roman numerals.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!

I think it's always going to be exciting to be "told" that you're thinking of new, creative, and exciting ideas and that they trust you to go make it happen. Really -- what can be better. Congratulations!

I am stuck in a weird limbo right now as I was told from a program manager from one agency (at a conference) that my proposal did well in another agency -- specific words "You should be very excited about that proposal and let me know when you hear from them". But the PM was like "oops.. guess I told you too early".... because I haven't heard yet from said-agency!

This is the worst, cuz while I tell myself not to get my hopes up, they are!

(Sidestory: my husband served on a committee where my colleagues proposal was being reviewed.. and he left the room etc. like the COI policy states. But most PMs leave the "ratings" up for the proposals. So, my husband came home saying that my colleagues was on the borderline and had a chance. Sworn to secrecy, I never told the colleague and I'm glad... because he never got it, and I feel rather bad for him. And now I know why the COI is so important.)

So -- if I don't get this grant, that PM from the other agency is cruel!!! ;)

chemcat said...

the first grant is special because of the validation and the relief. The next ones are great because of, well, the validation and the relief. And of course, the most important one is the current one. Sort of like comparing one's first love with the ones that come later.... except for the polygamy (hopefully) of grants and not of lovers.

Congrats FSP!

EngineeringProf said...

I heard you. Personally, I'm more thrilled to have a paper accepted than to have a grant awarded.

Receiving a grant is... a relief ("phew, I don't have to write several more grant proposals this year"). Relief is good, but getting a paper accepted is even better. That never gets old.

Josh - MA Israel said...

it's always exciting to get more money. Even grants :)