Whatever it takes to keep the wheels rolling

May 14 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

I stopped by to talk to the college-level finance person today to discuss a couple of things and to share notes on dealing with two kids under 5. It's not unusual for us to chat and I needed to work out a few matters with her. Part way through the conversation she mentioned that I seemed to be getting money from all over the university and kiddingly (I think) asked when I was going to be shaking down the president.

If I thought the president could fund a project, I would.

The thing is, even though we have had some success at the granting game, there always seems to be another key piece of data to get or salary to cover. Part of the deal when managing a lab includes finding whatever means to make things happen - usually by digging up the money. And we have spent a lot of money, well beyond what the university promised me when I was hired.

Through various means we've managed to find ~$100k in "extra" money in the last four years. Some of that has come through applying for internal funds and some through finding myself on the wrong end of a balance sheet and having to more "actively" chase some money down. If one includes student fellowships (not TAs, but direct merit-based research fellowships for grad students), then the lab has pulled in an additional $150k or so.

Yes, this takes time away from chasing the Big Money, but sometimes you need to cobble a few things together to get you there and $250K isn't exactly small money, either. It's not always fun or comfortable, but my job is selling our science so we can keep churning out the best data possible. Sometimes that is to grant agencies and sometimes it is to the Research Office here.

Whatever it takes to enable the lab peeps to do what they do.

6 responses so far

  • The university's money is just as green as NIH's.

  • gerty-z says:

    money is money. good job finding some for your lab!

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    The game is to get the cheeze, it doesn't matter where the cheeze came from or what you had to do to get it, you just get it.

  • Dr. Dad, PhD says:

    I totally understand and agree with the concept of needing additional money.

    With any luck I'll start my own lab one of these days, but I have no idea how to hunt down such money. Is it a lot of talking with administrators? Department Chairs? I've helped put together a few such applications at the institute I'm currently at, but it seems like we're not playing the game quite right (didn't get any).

    Just wondering, 'cause I think you identified another skill I think I may need to hone....

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Just wondering, 'cause I think you identified another skill I think I may need to hone....
    Groveling?

    In truth, this kind of money comes from many different sources, some formal, some not. The key is to apply for the pots that have a formal mechanism and keep finding opportunities to ask for the informal stuff. It's when people start saying "no" that you know you've run out of rope.

  • Heavy says:

    That's an impressive amount of internal funds. Well done.

    One can be successful hitting up the prez too.

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