Like 28% of iPhone users, I popped on the interwebs before getting out of bed Thursday morning. I was greeted by an email from the Foundation telling me that they would not be funding my proposal. The proposal that they asked me to write, and were very enthusiastic about in general. The proposal that would allow me to work with Famous Dude, crank out a high profile paper or two, and score a sweet TT job in another year or so (that easy!!!!). We really thought this grant was going to be funded.
Instead of a done deal, it's simply done--all of those hopes dashed by a reviewer who seemingly did not actually read the grant. Yeah, I know everybody says that when they get their summary statements, but seriously--how else do you explain criticisms like "it is not clear to us how many animals will be studied and what is the number of rats per experiment," when the first line of each Aim's methods states, for example, "Sixty male Sprague Dawley rats will be used for this experiment?"
The rejection has a lot of ramifications that are really quite serious in the context of my very near and very distant future. Not only does it mean that I most likely can't go work with Famous Dude, but it may mean that I will be unemployed in a few months. For the purposes of actually getting out of bed, though, I flicked the old denial switch to "on" and went about my usual morning activities: kitty medicine, Luna Bar, gym clothes, subway.
Once in lab, however, reality set in as I repeatedly fielded "how are you's" and "what's new's" from my lab mates (we are a friendly bunch!). Unlike Famous Dude, I have a terrible poker face, so it wasn't long before I was reaching for the Kimwipes. Per usual, my lab peeps were super supportive and awesome and agreed that the reviewer comments were probably written by the Foundation CEO's pomeranian.
When I broke the news to PI, he was extremely surprised, but had few words of comfort. He did, however, have many words of discomfort, most of which served to inform me that the grant I'm currently on would definitely run out sometime this fall. I listened to him, pressing firmly on the bridge of my nose, willing the tears back inside their ducts. It was of little use. When there was nothing else to say, I quickly thanked PI and ran out of his office before I completely lost it.
It is as if the floor has dropped out from under me. In 2-3 months I will lose my job, my health insurance, my productivity...all at a point in my career when I really need to be working. It is terrifying.
There is more to this story, of the not-necessarily-solving-any-problems-but-uplifting-nonetheless variety. But this is quite long already, so I'll leave it there, for now...
The Plight of the Post-Doc