Follow up to the introduction of grant application fees

(by Professor in Training) Sep 06 2011

On the last post about the American Heart Association planning to introduce grant application fees next year, Glfadkt commented that:

... some groups (i.e American Diabetes Association) require those awarded grants to be members -- and the membership fee/dues cannot be paid from those grant funds.

I’ve seen this before with a couple of associations and foundations. And this raises an interesting point ... if grants are awarded to institutions, how can agencies mandate that PIs be members?

For example, it’s interesting to read through the American Diabetes Association’s Grant Stipulations Summary:

Award recipients must be members of the Association’s Professional Section.

All funds will be made payable to the Principal Investigator’s institution, not to the 
Principal Investigator.

While I understand the logic (support those who support the agency), aren’t these stipulations somewhat contradictory?

So who pays for the PI's membership to the association/foundation in order for the grant to be awarded? My institution refuses to pay for membership fees regardless of the source of the money (discretionary funds, startup account, intramural or extramural grants); thus, in this case the membership fee would have to come out of my own pocket. What's next? Am I to purchase consumables for the lab from my salary too?

And, for those who plan to apply for American Heart Association grants in the winter round, the question is twofold: (1) who will pay the AHA membership fee in order to submit grants for free and (2) if the PI refuses to pay the membership, who will pay for the grant submission?

9 responses so far

Fees for grant applications?

(by Professor in Training) Sep 03 2011

It would appear that funding agencies are starting to look for new and novel ways to either raise revenue for their grants and/or to help cover the administrative costs associated with reviews and stuff. I’m guessing this is also to help reduce the number of applicants.

Huh? I hear you type.

Yep. The American Heart Association has added a small but very significant line to its blurb about the benefits of becoming a member:

No word yet on how much this fee will be. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out, particularly as membership fees are often paid by the PI out of her own pocket because institutions will not cover them. So who is going to pay the application fee? Publishing costs are one thing but paying to apply for a grant?


10 responses so far

Teh Wimminz in Academia Thingy Again

(by Professor in Training) Aug 21 2011

It seems like forever since I posted anything on this here bloggy thingy. Why? I’ve been busy. Insanely, stupid, batshit, crazy busy. Good and bad shit has been happening. Mostly good. But with some smaller bad shit thrown in.

Anyway, Her Royal Hermieness has been hassling me about participating in her Wimminz in Sciencey With No Babeez In Sight Thingy Whatever again (last years thingy is here) and has promised to send me a case of Doritos if I do it. Sigh. Unfortunately, I’m on the wagon as far as the Evil But Devilishly Tasty Corn Chip Goes. It’s been about two months now. The tremors have subsided but I’m still having weird dreams in which I’m frolicking in the woods in search of Doritos.

But enough about me. Onto the other stuff.

Hermie is going to put up a list of other suckers participants sometime so you can mosey on over to her digs and check them out.

And now for Teh Questionz:


1. Are there any suggestions about how to look professorial as a young (and young looking and smallish) TT faculty?

Does it really matter whether you look professorial or not? As long as you’re relatively neatly dressed, nobody really cares. Well, if they do, nobody has ever had the balls to say anything to me. I often get mistaken for a student by others but not by my own students (they know better than to incur my wrath). Although, with the amount of grey hair I’ve developed over the past year or so, that’s not likely to continue for too much longer unless I invest in some serious color treatment.

I’m not a girly girl and tend to dress in hiking/travel/casual clothes both at work and when tooling around town - nylon or cotton pants or cords, short-sleeved button up shirt, comfortable slip on or lace up shoes - think Outdoor Store Chic rather than Business Wear. At professional meetings, I generally wear the same clothes but will force myself to go business casual if presenting a poster and I’ve even been known to don a pants suit for an oral presentation (not my preference but sometimes you have to do it). I would avoid the types of clothing I see some of my female students wear such as low cut t-shirts, ripped jeans, shorts that show butt cheek, flip flops, etc. Save that stuff for the weekend.

If you’re not certain about what to wear, you can look around your department and see what other women of your age and status tend to prefer. If in doubt, head for business casual. Above all else though, make sure your clothes and shoes are comfortable, that you’re not likely to have a disastrous wardrobe malfunction, and that you don’t look like you just back from an all-night pub crawl. Ultimately, as long as you’re relatively neatly attired, your students and colleagues will treat you as a professional based on your demeanor and how you respond to others.


2. For those of us who like things like pink, skirts, baking, sewing, knitting, heels, makeup, and other things girlie, how important is it to not do / wear / talk about these things lest we be seen as fluffy girls who can't do Science?

I’m NOT one of these peeps so I can’t really comment on this one. But I will. You don’t need a penis and a sports jacket to be a scientist and it’s important for those both in and outside of science to understand this. If you’re someone who likes skirts, heels and makeup, you shouldn’t have to change that in order for people to take you seriously. As mentioned above, I think the way you carry yourself and the way in which you interact with others will eventually overcome any false first impressions. Ultimately, if you’re getting funded, publishing kickass research and are totes being the bright shiny star that you are, people aren’t going to give a toss about whether you are a girly girl or not. And if they do, you can wave your notice of award, annual review and/or Nobel Prize in their face and tell them exactly where they should put it.


3. What can we do when other women deny there are problems being a woman in science?

Everyone has their own experiences when it comes to this issue and I can only speak from mine. I am in a traditionally male-dominated field and my advisors, mentors and the majority of my colleagues in grad school and during my postdoc were all male - my achievements trumped all of my male peers during my doctoral and postdoctoral stints and not one of the guys would ever suggest that I did not deserve them. That being said though, I get royally pissed off when grant reviewers refer to me as “her” or “she”, particularly when used in a context such as “she needs to recruit senior colleagues to help her with the studies.” I probably read more into these statements than I should but I feel like I’ve received a pat on the head by Professor Big Swinging Dick, told that science is too hard for a girl and that I would benefit from the assistance of a senior MALE colleague.

Ok, totally getting off track now.

To address the question, I’m not sure that there is anything you can do. There ARE difficulties associated with being a woman in science. The data are clear on that. The higher you look up the career ladder in science, the higher the attrition rate for women. Trying to convince some women that there IS a problem when they are adamant that there is NOT, can be like talking to a brick wall. And will probably get you nowhere. I’ve recently had the honor of talking to several school groups about being a scientist and it’s been heartening to see an overwhelming number of girls in the group but to also be able to show them that women scientists DO exist. Forget about the denial peeps and concentrate on being a kickass scientist and a role model to the next generation of girls. Remember that there are also those that deny that Doritos are good for you. There are idiots everywhere.


4. It seems to me that often women don't have as strong professional networks as men - the kind that gets built over shared interests (sports or drinking). People seem to gravitate towards others like them. What specific advice do you have for establishing and maintaining network with men as well as other women?

I’m not sure I really have any good advice on this one either as I think I’ve been extremely lucky that my predominantly male professional network doesn’t involve pissing contests or meetings in the bar. But I think this might also because I’m a bit of an outdoor freak and can kick ALL of my mentors’ asses at everything they’ve tried to best me at (and they know it). At meetings, dinner with colleagues in a decent restaurant that doesn’t have tvs filled with sporting events and earsplitting commentary or a quiet drink at a bar is what I tend to experience.

I’m fortunate that the people I interact with and those that I would like to interact with in my field are, in general, not the types who prefer to eat lunch at Hooters. Those that are are the peeps I prefer not to associate with. I also don’t drink alcohol and if I find myself in a situation at a meeting where networking is being conducted in an alcohol-fueled gathering, I generally beg off and head back to my hotel room to watch tv and eat chocolate. If that ends up hurting my career, I’m ok with that.


Sigh. Yet another year of relatively useless information from me on these issues, I’m afraid. At least I didn’t have to talk about Teh Babeez.

11 responses so far


(by Professor in Training) May 12 2011

An email I received yesterday ...

Hey PiT,

Can you pick up some corn chips for tomorrow’s end of semester party? We know that you can’t cook and thought this might be easier for you.



Grumble #1
I’m on the Doritos wagon so this is like asking a crack whore to pick up some crack for a party.

Grumble #2
I can cook. I just choose not to. And it’s probably in the interests of public health and safety that I do not prepare food for anyone other than myself.

Grumble #3
It’s not Friday afternoon yet.

12 responses so far


(by Professor in Training) Apr 21 2011

My lab’s research fund is almost dry. We’re operating on fumes right now. Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered that a couple of vendors sell chocolate.

Browsing the VWR website ... browsing ...browsing ...

They sell chocolate agar.

Chocolate with vancomycin.

"Supreme Mini-Treats, Chocolate. Formulated for all primates, and also for many other lab animals including rodents, guinea pigs, rabbits and swine. Serves as a nutritional diet supplement as well as enrichment treat. Can be fed freely as part of primate's diet."
Sounds ok to me.

Wait ...

"Timothy's World Coffee Hot Chocolate. Stay warm on a winter's night or receive a midday pick-me-up at the office with this smooth, creamy and satisfying beverage. Perfect for any chocolate lover. Just add to hot water or milk, stir and enjoy."
w00t!! It's like they read my mind. Or read my fucking blog.

We need to submit a VWR order anyway. I wonder what sort of price break our rep can get on the chocolatey stuff.

Screw the budget. I’m gettin’ me some mini-treats and a box or ten of hot chocolate. Let the partay begin.

8 responses so far

Courtesy authorship for trainees

(by Professor in Training) Apr 20 2011

We all know of labs in which all of the trainees are listed as coauthors on every publication that goes out regardless of how much work they may or may not have contributed. I’ve been told that this approach demonstrates team work in the lab. In one lab that does this, each trainee specialized in just one technique and the lab operates like an assembly line.

A good thing or a bad thing? I’m clearly not a fan of this approach.

What about the PhD student who is about to defend her dissertation and has 10 middle authored papers from her time in the lab but none as first author? In one instance, this was apparently done to help bolster the student’s CV. Because she was headed to medical school.

Again, good or bad? Or neither? Obviously, I don’t like this either. Baaaah humbug.

Maybe it’s just me, but the entire-lab-on-every-paper thingy is just plain stupid and I’m obviously not a fan of the assembly line dealio, particularly when trainees are involved. And padding a students’ CV screams either “this trainee is great at pushing buttons on the HPLC” or “we admit that we deliberately padded the students’ CV”.

I don’t know. Neither of these scenarios will happen any time soon in my lab. I think I’d prefer to see trainee CVs with a couple of coauthored papers but the majority as first author. But what the hell do I know?

23 responses so far

Things I learned at EB 2011

(by Professor in Training) Apr 15 2011

1. Taking sunscreen to DC was wishful thinking.

2. Taking a hat to DC was very wishful thinking.

3. Some of my Scientopian buddies are most excellent fun. Especially this one, and this one and this one.

4. It's ok to tell little white lies to your students if nobody dies as a result.

5. Catching up with friends to talk about stuff science is somewhat akin to a small vacation.

6. A long and winding journey home can easily wipe out any beneficial effect of the vacation scientific meeting.

7. Chatting to, arguing with, and getting frank and honest feedback from Postdoc Mentor makes me appreciate him even more.

In addition to the vendor schwag, I left the meeting with what is pictured below. Special thanks go to those involved. Here’s hoping they didn’t get arrested or billed for the damage done to their hotel room while preparing this most precious gift.

6 responses so far

Gaaaaaaaah ...

(by Professor in Training) Apr 07 2011

Dear caffeine,

Why are you not working your splendiferous magic this week? I need your help so that I don't fall asleep on my desk and wake to find a river of drool, my face lined with the imprint from my keyboard and students taking photos of me with their phones.

Damn you. Damn you and your inability to keep me awake during endless committee meetings and student presentations.

That is all.

Disappointingly yours,


8 responses so far


(by Professor in Training) Mar 24 2011

I’ve had so much going on lately, I feel like I’ve been juggling 24/7. And then someone ties one hand behind my back. And then gives me a blowtorch to add to the balls I already have in the air. And a chainsaw. Then I need to stand on one foot. And whistle. With my eyes closed.


Between grant writing, manuscripts, teaching, bench work, pre-tenure review, meetings, illness, committee work, and other shit, I haven’t had time to breathe. Which I guess is a good thing as I’m still holding my breath waiting to see what will happen with the federal budget because that has the potential to wipe out my research lab forever.


Tired. So very, very tired. And now I seem to be ill again. Motherfucker. Just want the pain to stop.

13 responses so far


(by Professor in Training) Mar 02 2011

Is the semester over yet?

Where the hell is spring break?

Where the hell did my life go?

When is the pain going to stop?

Why do people assume that when my door is shut that's just my way of saying "hey, come in on"?

11 responses so far

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