July is almost here, and with that, the close of year three for me on this job. Year three was exhausting and didn't start out all that well (but when you can use the term "scroti" in a post title, you gotta do it). By mid-fall of year three I was being dominated by this job and was being mocked by funding agencies. Not good.
I plodded on into the winter, firing off grant proposals like Dick Cheney shoots attorneys - three to NSF in January and one at the Feb deadline to NIH. During that time I spent a week in Europe with collaborators, took on new teaching responsibilities and did more traveling.
For some reason, despite being more hectic, the spring semester was a bit better than the fall. Things were working better in the lab, collaborations were bearing fruit; it all just kind of started.... clicking.
Summer came around and proposal rejections started to roll in. First one NSF proposal was bounced, then another. Funding rates are shit and the panels those proposals went to have seen a big upturn in proposals lately. I got involved in a summer outreach program, but despite the rejection and new work our momentum continued to build.
Then some good news. Our remaining NSF proposal and the one at NIH both scored well. It was the first glimpse of funding light, but it still threatened to fall into the abyss of funding darkness. I was told that NSF wanted to fund our proposal, but probably wouldn't have the money. Likewise, our score at NIH looks to be just outside the bubble. Success, but not so much.
So I targeted the next deadline and got to revising. All the while the lab is working up new publications, many of which are weeks (not months) away from being submitted and a few that have gone in. No time to slow down while sitting on the cusp. At the same time, I had initiated some discussions with the admin about the financial situation of the lab and whether there might be a lifeboat hidden in the Dean's office. The good news is that they were very supportive.
But on the eve of completing year three we got a call. Some budgetary dominoes have fallen at NSF and our proposal is going to be funded. Suddenly we're a federally funded lab. I'm still waiting on summary statements from NIH and a conversation with the PO, but if they scored the proposal I sent in last round, I feel very confident that we can break through there with some of my more "NIH friendly" ideas, as well.
And just like that, things are looking different than they did 6 months ago.