The end of the week is within reach. I am overwhelmed with work at the moment… so this will be only a brief celebratory post.

DrMrA found out this morning that he was awarded a federal grant that he applied for. After submitting in the neighborhood of 20 federal grant proposals and struggling with funding quite a bit in the last 5 years (despite excellent productivity and good journals) this comes as a tremendous relief. This news was so unexpected after a long series of defeats (and not because of lack of confidence- just because repeated defeat can be very demoralizing), that when he said he got the grant I mistakenly thought he just got the reviews – and it wasn’t until he said it the second time that I actually understood that HE GOT THE GRANT!!!

The last three years have seen the beginning of my independent career while my better half struggles with a mid-career funding gap, all while we try to juggle our family life. Both of our extended families have chipped in at various times in to help us during especially difficult periods- for which we are SO grateful. We can handle things if only one of us is without a grant at any one time, but the pressure is tremendous when we are fighting for funding simultaneously. The last three years have been tough on both of us. That’s all I am really going to say about this, because at this moment I don’t want to relive it.

Now, we wait for word about my grant….


21 thoughts on “Celebrate…

  1. Congratulations to DrMrA!

    I would *love* it if you ever saw fit to post about the tension created by one spouse’s career surpassing (however temporarily, or illusory-ily (yes we had wine tonight)) the other’s, and any thoughts on how to deal with it. Here in the Hyde household, that veers towards thin ice.

  2. Dr. J, BugDoc and Anonymoustache-

    Thanks for the kind wishes! We will do something to celebrate- I don’t know what- but for right now, it’s enough reward to see a smile on DrMrA’s face again- to see the tension of the last three years resolved.

    Dr. J.- I will honor your request and, at some point, post about tension between 2 career science couples at times like you suggest. This has been and continues to be a VERY difficult topic for me, and I know from talking privately with other faculty women who have scientist spouses that we share very similar experiences.

  3. Congratulations!! I am on the cusp of submitting my first (really) major grant application, with trepidation. It can be difficult to generate enthusiasm when you think, won’t get funded anyway… 20 applications! yikes.

  4. neurowoman-

    The grant climate is very, very tough at the moment. But I can promise you one thing though- if you don’t submit the grant, you won’t get the grant. Just write your best, cross your fingers and submit. Then take the reviewers’ advice, and try again. For as many tries as it takes.

    Good luck!

  5. Amanda, Mad Hatter, bikemonkey and VWXYNot?-

    Thanks, and I’ll tell him you said so! The relief is palpable…

  6. I’m confused, being at a much earlier career stage. Perhaps you can explain this to me?
    You said “Both of our extended families have chipped in at various times in to help us during especially difficult periods- for which we are SO grateful.”
    Do you not get paid your salary if you don’t have grants, or do you get less money somehow because you somehow get a portion of the grant money for yourself, or are your families somehow helping to fund your research?
    I thought that you got a salary from the university and the grants just went to the research funds. But I admit that I don’t know.

  7. Flicka Mawa-

    No, our salaries don’t depend on whether or not we get grants- our families help us in other ways…

    Help from our families comes mostly in the form of child care, care of the house and cooking etc…. Since both of our sets of parents live far from us, this involves travel and extended stays away from home so that they can take care of us and of the children at very busy times… for example -when we have simultaneous grant deadlines.

  8. If you are in this business, the only thing worse than having one researcher in the partnership is when both partners are researchers.

    An unusual degree of fortitude and selflessness is required when both grant applications in the marriage come back unscored.

    Hence, I sing a song of joy for both of you and send along my best wishes for a positive review of your own proposal. Hang in there DoubleDoc and celebrate that worth celebrating when it comes home. Congratulations to you both for your respective roles in this success.

  9. Abel-

    So right, thanks for the good wishes..!. The weight of two academic careers in one couple can be crushing when funding times are tough. This takes a toll on every part of our life. And we have had both come back unscored…

    As for my grant- last year (I can only apply once a year for this one), I was SO close- only two grants off the funding line. So- we shall see this year… what happens now.

    I’m trying not to think about it, the decision could come down at any moment.

  10. “No, our salaries don’t depend on whether or not we get grants…”

    At my institution, tenured faculty salaries do depend to some extent on whether or not one gets grants. As I understand it, tenure only guarantees the average salary at one’s institution for one’s position, even though many faculty, particularly in the biomedical sciences, make more than the average.

    Since faculty are expected to bring in their salary from grant funding, it is theoretically possible that tenured faculty who lose all their funding could have their salary decreased to whatever the university-wide average is. I’ve never actually heard of this happening, although it isn’t the sort of information one would share. Is this true of other people’s institutions as well?

  11. Mad Hatter-

    Every institution, and indeed even departments within the same institution, differ on the amount of salary support that they provide (so, in the vernacular- the amount of hard money that goes to support faculty salaries). We are fortunate to be employed at an institution that provides 100% salary support, but this situation is quite rare- and becoming ever more rare. For us, tenure really has meaning.

    For faculty who have some percentage of ‘soft’ money as their salary- I don’t know what happens when they lose their grant funding- but I assume that they lose that fraction of their salary. I guess I wouldn’t assume that they go down to the ‘average’ salary – but instead their salary is reduced to whatever percentage of hard money their institution contributes to their salary. That is my understanding of how this generally works.

    This is obviously more complex than I’m letting on, and if you want to know more we can discuss this by email. Salary structure and salary levels are a big part of negotiations when you take a faculty job… maybe I should get back to that job search series one of these days!

  12. Thanks for the information. I would definitely be interested in posts on salary and the promotion process–so much of how academic faculty positions work is completely opaque to those (like me) at the bottom of the totem pole!

  13. Congrats on your other half’s grant! It must be a relief for both of you. I, too, would be interested to hear about your tensions in a 2-scientist household. Competing career demands can make for a pretty unfriendly environment in the Candid Household from time to time…

  14. Candid Engineer-

    Thanks- yes, it is a HUGE relief. Competing career demands are a very big issue in our house. I will post about this at some point…

  15. Great for the good news!

    To add my two cents, I work at a place that is entirely soft money and the overhead rates are so high that few funding agencies will support the scientists. I have seen at least two people (who had been there >20 years each) laid off in the last few years because they didn’t get grants. Sucks.

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