The Plight of the Post-Doc

10.31.2009

Well, that sucked.

Did you hear that whooshing noise earlier today?  That was the sound of my ego, deflating faster than the Heene balloon.

My K99 application came back unscored.  I don't want to whine about it too much because I know this is something that happens to many people, even people who go on to be (or are) successful scientists, but frankly, I feel like I've been slapped in the face.

I'm embarrassed, indignant, and sad.   I don't feel sorry for myself, but I'm frustrated that I so severely misjudged how strong my application was.  As I wrote about previously, I thought I was pretty hot stuff, and it's scary to think I may be far from it.

I've never been one for wallowing, though--it's ugly and unproductive.  I contacted my Program Officer and there's nothing I can do but wait for my summary statement, which will hopefully give me some insight into the reviewers' major issues.   Until then, I've just got to keep doing what I was doing before this grant was something that mattered--getting my work done and applying for jobs.  Tonight I'll be bummed, but J's making tacos and the Yankees are winning, so I suppose life isn't all bad.

13 comments:

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I'm embarrassed, indignant, and sad. I don't feel sorry for myself, but I'm frustrated that I so severely misjudged how strong my application was.

The fact that your application was unscored doesn't really tell you anything about whether you misjudged how strong it was. Wait'll you see your reviews, and then you'll know whether you have a shot on resubmission.

I think you've mentioned you are in the neurosciences. If you don't already have at least one paper in Science, Nature, Cell, Neuron, or Nature Neuroscience, then your K99 will not be competitive.

LM said...

*hug*

drdrA said...

Dr. Becca-

I know this sucks- but remember it is not personal- it is business. period. Although rejection sucks- you have to be in this for the long haul. So cry in your wine (or motherfucking Jameson) for 1 night- but any more than that is a waste of perfectly good wine.

Get up and try again.

drdrA

(with that said- K99s are kind of freaky- different institutes handle them differently- the institute that handles my grants only gives like 2 K99s per cycle or something ridiculous like that- they use the K22 mechanism far, far more.- so you should figure out which mechanism your institute favors and then write for that one.)

Candid Engineer said...

Yankees win!! W00t!! W00t!!!

Darling, I haven't been in this science game too long, but I know that, even for successful scientists, grant-writing is about probability. So with this rejection out of the way, you are even closer to success.

Now, it's time to focus on CC pounding some Philadelphia ass this evening.

Dr Becca, PhD said...

Thanks guys, I'm feeling better today. I went this morning to cheer the marathon runners, which is always so invigorating and inspiring. Then I came home and Footloose was on TV, which is also very inspiring. I even found myself dancing around the apartment a bit when it got to that scene where John Lithgow is like, "please pray for our children having a dance this weekend" and then "I'm Free" fades in and it cuts to everyone on their motorbikes getting ready to turn the warehouse into an awesome dance space. How can I not be feeling OK after that?

pinus said...

Sorry to hear...but this is part of the game. Battle lost...but fuck it you will win the war. get those reviews and figure out what you have to do to get the grant.

Dr Becca, PhD said...

If you don't already have at least one paper in Science, Nature, Cell, Neuron, or Nature Neuroscience, then your K99 will not be competitive.

Boy, I wish they'd said this in the instructions--it'd have saved everyone a whole lot of time.

pinus said...

Becca,

that is not entirely true. I know of a person who got a K99 recently without that. Also, I had no such paper (as a post-doc) and I got one. I think different institutes have differents standards (I am sure that cPP's institute of choice probably does exhibit behavior such as this). Make sure and check out the people who have got them from the institute you are targeting (??)

Dr Becca, PhD said...

Pinus, I know; I have a good friend whose application was in the same study section and who did quite well despite not having a paper in any of the journals CPP named. I almost wish it were that simple, because then I could just say oh, that's the only reason, it's not that they found any major design flaws in my research plan and have no confidence in my ability to become a scientist. Instead, it's a complete mystery, and one can't help but imagine the worst.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

I have a good friend whose application was in the same study section and who did quite well despite not having a paper in any of the journals CPP named.

If it's NINDS, then "quite well" ain't gonna mean funded. My comment was, as I stated, specific to NINDS.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Actually, I didn't state that, but I should have.

Dr Becca, PhD said...

It didn't go to NINDS, but my point about my friend was more to illustrate that lack of a glamour journal paper didn't equate to instant triage, not that he would definitely get funded. But he probably will; I think he's gotten every grant he's applied for since we were in grad school together.

Unfortunately, I can't resubmit--I'm past the 5 year mark now, which disqualifies me. Fortunately, there are a couple of non-NIH 1-2 year grants that I'm still eligible for, so I'm working now to pull out the awesomest parts of my K99 for those.

Despite my snip above about saving time, I don't regret applying at all. The process of writing the grant was a really good exercise for me--it forced me to sit down and seriously organize my thoughts about my research, which I'm sure will be helpful down the road with job interviews and future grant-writing.

DrugMonkey said...

I think you've mentioned you are in the neurosciences. If you don't already have at least one paper in Science, Nature, Cell, Neuron, or Nature Neuroscience, then your K99 will not be competitive.

as usual, PP is full of crap. and you can verify this with a simple trip to RePORTER and / or CRISP. i.e., we're not talking "did quite well" but rather "got funded". and the old "if it ain't NINDS than it ain't neuroscience: isn't going to fly either. there's a fuckton of brain-related institutes and that means neuroscience.

Dude, I love you but after all this time you should know that you cannot possibly get away with this sort of thing. :-)

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