Hard to believe it, but I'm coming up on the end of year 4 here. Years one and two were full of the typical bumps and bruises that any new lab goes through, but they were really the honeymoon phase. Year three was the year that things started to come apart a little bit and I was really starting to get concerned about how things were going. While I alluded to it in this space, that was really not a good time. I should say that I appreciate this community for keeping me motivated. Despite how things looked early on, the year did improve and we got some decent funding rolling. We're now a year into that proposal and it's going well.
Since then a few things have happened. We added the Weer One to the family, which has changed a great number of things. I've also taken steps to make sure there is no Weest One. Not sure I could handle the sleep deprivation again.
We've seen NSF make some major changes in the way they review proposals and I went to DC to see how this would work, first hand. After much debate over this process, I offered up a proposal for fixing some of the issues that led to the preproposal system in the first place. No calls from DC yet.
I've taken some additional professional steps, including becoming an AE for a journal in my field and becoming far more comfortable in my role as a teacher (but not with grade inflation). There has been considerable discussion of work life "balance" and semicolons.
Overall, year four was a good year. We have two proposals pending with different agencies, a few lab alumni, some papers out and a bunch about to go, and a LOT of data. I am far from ready for the semester to begin, but when it does, we'll be starting in good shape. The lab is beginning to resemble what I had pictured when I started out. I just didn't know it was going to take this long to get here.