Sunday, October 3, 2010

Funding freakout

I was doing my projected budget for this year, and boy am I freaking out. I decided to go for it with a "burn the ships" spending strategy on my startup, but the reality of seeing that nest egg dwindle is jarring.

Due to some unfortunate issues, I had to start preparing a material in my own lab that I used to get from a collaborator. I was always planning on doing this, but not for another year or two. The earlier spending on supplies and equipment severely depleted my emergency fund. I took on 4 students, which is at the upper limit of what I can support, and doesn't leave much leftover for emergencies.

Now, I knew all along that this strategy had risks and rewards. I have all of my equipment installed and running in my renovated lab. By this time next year, it looks like I will have 4 papers based on data exclusively from my new lab, which would not be happening without all the spending. This, on top of the 3 last papers from National Lab data, plus a potential mini-review stemming from all my proposal writing means my CV is definitely benefiting. The issue is converting this early success into more reliable funding. I had some success last year, but all with small grants or new investigator programs. We are in austerity mode, buying only essentials now. I had already planned on attending 2 meetings with significant travel, but other travel will have to be local (or paid for!) until I get more money.

This is why I am spending so much time writing now--3 proposals done for September, with another 2 white papers + 1 proposal to do by mid-November. The reality of my situation hit me hard last week now that I have 4 mouths to feed. I am freaking out!


GertyZ said...

This is my nightmare. Good luck! Funding is sucking right now, but it seems like you are doing the right things (CV, pubs, etc.)

note added in proof: the recaptcha for this comment was "grant"!

prodigal academic said...

That is too funny about the recaptcha. I will hope it is a sign! :-)