How did that happen?

Sep 10 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

Working on this multi-institutional mega-grant has been an interesting experience. I'm sure these types of grant get written in different ways all the time, but few are probably written the way the one I am working on has been. Because of the timing of the drafts we have been pumping out and the number of parties involved, the writing team that was once 8ish people has shrunk with the start of classes and the near completion of several sections. Since I have a light teaching load this semester and stand to benefit hugely from the funding of the grant, I have been able to make most meetings and do a fair share of writing and editing for the grant. Oddly enough, availability has translated into responsibility and I find myself one of two principal editors of the research portion of the grant. WTF?

I am willing to do it and believe that my input is valuable, but from the outside the situation seems absurd. I've just been here a year and even though I have written multiple grants here and have three pending with federal agencies, I can't claim to have landed federal support in this position. And yet, I have a significant role in shaping the mega-grant. It is based on work that is in my wheelhouse and there are senior people still heavily involved, but I can't help but wonder whether this would happen at many other places. At the same time, I don't really care. The funding of this proposal would provide infrastructure that would make my research substantially easier and faster, so perhaps I'm just one of the more motivated people to make sure this happens and the co-PIs want to exploit recognize that. And no, I don't think this is a case of administrators setting up a junior person as a fall guy should it not get funded.

In any case, It's been good experience to both see how something like this comes together and to be placed in a leadership role for something of this magnitude. If it flies, and there is a good chance it will based on feedback we have gotten from the agency, it will certainly provide me with some cache with people that matter. If it flops, then we'll have another go, but I'm not going to hide from the opportunity for fear of not being successful.

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