Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Night In Grant-Land

So, I can see from my window that the sun is out and starting to move towards the horizon. Where did the day go? Why did I spend it all in here? Did I even get anything done?

Had a reprieve from journal club so I worked at my computer ALL DAY. This is very weird for me, I'm starting to get stir-crazy to get back to the bench. But I really have to work on my grant. I finally printed out what I have and started going through it with a ball-point pen. It always looks much worse when I really get into editing mode than if I'm just scrolling back and forth on screen. I guess it's good to be realistic, but I can't believe how much work I still have to do. This thing is enormous, it's a full 25 pages, like an R-01. Ugh!

Sent another job application today. I'm up to 7 now, with 2 more to go next week and still looking for ads or other heads-ups about Assistant Professors in Cell or Molecular Biology or Biochemistry. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Speaking of Bueller, I'm having serious senior-itis here. Every four years or so, in high school, college, and grad school, I get seriously sick of being in the same place. This is my fourth year as a postdoc, and although it has flown by rather quickly and I've been incredibly busy, I still feel like I've been treading water and wasting my life. In all the other cases, I was mostly finished with what I had to do by year four, so I could kind of slack off without getting myself into too much trouble. That's not the case this year. I feel like I'm halfway to nowhere with my project, I just have lots of data that don't make any sense and this feeling that I'm going to be groping around half-blind for a few more years before I start to see enough of a pattern to write another paper. Slacking is not going to help in that department. Hordes of elfin helpers would be nice...

So, to cope with this feeling that I'm too isolated and in over my head, I'm starting to do that thing again where I email strangers asking for reagents. Half of them will think I'm completely crazy and want to know why on earth I would want their plasmid, drug or antibody. Some will make me jump through flaming MTA hoops, but some of them will actually just send the stuff. I've made lots of progress in the past just by reading papers and coming up with ideas and emailing people. Usually I just ask if they want to collaborate, or would they at least send me some stuff so I can try to test my crazy hypothesis. In some cases people have been very helpful but their reagents were crap. But some of these things turned into really productive collaborations and papers. I'd settle for any tiny amount of progress right now. If it gives me some miniscule insight, that would be great!

So I skipped a party tonight in order to go home and work on my grant. Very sad way of life, but maybe I'll make enough of a dent in the first half of the weekend to get a little slacking time in before Monday. Pretty sad when slacking is your main motivating factor. It's not like I have any fun activities planned, since we're going on a trip next week. I don't know how much fun that will be, since it will include visiting various sick relatives and a few events designed to help me attempt to schmooze for jobs. I'm looking at my calendar and freaking out. I can't believe we're almost halfway through August already. What my great-grandmother said was right: the older you get, the faster time goes.

I feel old already.


At 5:31 AM, Blogger utenzi said...

Is there any particular part of the country that you'd prefer? It seems like there's always postdoc positions open here (UNC @ Chapel Hill) but they might not be in great labs. I've never checked to see who the postings are with.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why are scientists forever complaining? sometimes its the martyr syndrome.

"Oh I had to work so long last time.. stayed up until 2:00am"

"I spent the whole weekend taking care of my cells"

boo-freaking-hoo.. who cares.. everyone has to put in their time. Now you want braggin' rights as well? Who cares.. it's your life.. you chose to do it.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind so much the complaining, but agree with the "martyr" aspect.

I remember in grad school there would always be that one guy that just had to brag about staying up late working all night, telling everyone that if they wanted to be in his lab they had to "work hard". Turns out that guy took a lot of time off at regular hours doing who knows what.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Utenzi, I'm not looking for a postdoc. See earlier posts.

Anonymous: yeah, okay, I know what you mean. I hate that too. But I'm not really whining. Believe me, I can whine with the best of them, and this is nothing! I just want to make sure all those young, would-be scientists out there know what it's really like. It really does require working Friday nights and weekends sometimes.

But as you should already know, I'm doing that now because I have a trip planned later this week and I won't be able to get much done while I'm gone.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

Good luck with the grant writing. I too get slacker-itis, but I usually manage to guilt myself out of it eventually.

And yeah, the martyr thing seems built into this institution, but science tends to be very competitive. I love how anonymous says 'who cares?' but they take time not only to read your blog, but to comment. I wish I would have had access to a blog like this when I was applying to grad school, just to open my eyes...

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous BWJones said...

There is a job you might be interested in next door to us in the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Check it out here.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger meghangu93lhgibson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Meg said...

hi - I saw your blog via OC girl. I'm job searching myself, so I feel your pain (or a tenth of it, anyhow!).

on that note, I looked at my alma mater, and they're hiring a post-doctoral research fellow in the bio dept. I don't know if that's something you're interested in, but here's the link

if you don't want that, maybe they can take your resume for future positions?

if you don't want to click on the link because you're worried about spammers like the bozo above, go to, click on staff, then HR, then employment opportunities.

good luck!!

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Meg said...

oh, and I just noticed that you're not looking for a post-doctoral position.

I'm sorry!

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

meg, that's okay! other people made the same mistake.

to the person who recommended Huntsman, thanks! I applied there last year, but my CV is better now, so we'll see what happens.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous tom said...

Thank you, very interesting!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home