Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goals for 2010

Welcome to 2010, how did yours go? It's not been a great start for me, but I keep telling myself it's a new year so just keep pushing forward. Our major funding agency here in the US decided to release proposal rejections the morning of New Years eve. So I found out that the one big grant i've been waiting on, and really wanting to get funded, did not. I still have one more in the works, one that though exciting, is small potatoes compared to the one that did not.

I wrote two big grants this year, big money, good salary and to be perfectly honest, awesome science. One went into Polar Programs for some more experiments on my Antarctic larvae. To be peer reviewed you get 5 reviewers and then a panel of experts that decide on your proposal. You are then ranked and they fund as many as they can going down the list. That proposal came back with awesome reviews, and an awesome panel review, and yet was not funded. The panel even said to resubmit it next year (June 2010). That was big grant #1 and I heard about that a few weeks ago. That was irritating, but okay, because I was waiting on my other big grant, and I knew it went through the first round of rejections as I know other people who had their rejections already. Proposal #2 was to go to Chile, to do a seasonal study on some fjord corals. They haven't released the reviews as yet, so I don't know what went down. All I know is that it did not get funded. I personally don't think they should tell you until they release the reviews.

This has hit me hard in a number of ways. 1) My heart is really in that proposal, it's a fabulous project, with awesome science, a great group of collaborators and will really push forward our understanding of deep-water corals; 2) without that salary i'm pretty much going to be on 75% salary for the next year, Hawaii isn't getting any cheaper, and there probably goes my chances of getting to the UK this year; 3) without that salary, and without the potential for that salary until this time next year, i'm pushing the extent of my position here, it'll be a close call, and there is no guarantee it would get funded next time around either; 4) the job in Maine that i'm shortlisted for is looking hard at how much funding you're bring in, my inability to bring in those two large grants will not help me in getting that job, and it may throw me out; and 5) I was hoping to get a good amount of funding this year to convince the dean to sponsor me for a Greencard, now I don't feel i'm in a position to ask. I have a few more years on my work visa, but it's unbelievably stressful to renew and live by.

So that's been my last few days, not fun ones, i'm really pissed off and my faith in my ability to do what I do is severely knocked, I'm just not sure i'm cut out for this. 100% soft money sucks, to be kicked out of the country if I don't get that salary sucks even more. I've managed to keep myself going for the last 4 years, but in this financial climate I just don't know if I can do it anymore. If it is to do with the financial climate, maybe my science just sucks. I don't think so, but I haven't been able to write a funded grant in over a year now, that's not good.

As always, keep moving forwards. New year, new decade, maybe this one will be better. I'll be 32 this year, apparently my lucky number, so we'll see. I did pretty well on my 2009 goals, but I need to keep it here they are, my 2010 goals/resolutions/objectives - whatever you would like to call them....

  • Loose (and keep off) 10lbs - this year I lost 15 and put on 10, need to loose that 10 again!
  • Cut the junk food - cook more from scratch, more packed lunches! I don't eat out much here in Hawaii, but when I travel it becomes an issue. My 10lbs were put back on during my trip back to Woods Hole and Canada. I'm not sure how to get over my hectic travel, but eating better at home all the time is a good start. Less funding = less travel too, so maybe this issue will be okay this year.
  • Get the gym back into my week - it really is the best way for me I think, as I can go at my own pace and time. Not sure how this is going to work out, there is the free uni gym that's always packed and not so nice, or maybe i'll try out one of those 24hr fitness places and see how that goes. If I go back to paying gym fees, I need to make use of it, i'm not keen to go this route, but I need the stress relief.
  • Run another 1/2 marathon - not sure whether to do the same one again or another one, but either way, this is a goal i'm sticking to!
  • Try a sprint triathlon - could be fun, and there are lots of low key ones here to try
  • Cycle more - my bike has come out a little, but still hurts my knees (I stopped when marathon training got serious for fear of hurting my knees beyond running), so I need to keep going and see if I can strengthen them. If not, it's by by to the bike.
  • Improve my distance swimming - I used to be a really really strong swimmer, and I want to get that back. There's nothing better than feeling completely confident in the water.
This category is somewhat bittersweet to me right now, because of the above, i'm not sure the top two are obtainable. I wrote these before I heard about the last big grant I was waiting for, so i've left them in. This is where I would like to be with my finances, i'll try as hard as I can on both of them and see where I am this time next year.
  • Pay down my debt - (other than student loans, which are being paid monthly and are low interest), I want everything else I gained as a graduate student at least halved by 2011, if not more. I've ignored it for too long, I need to pay it attention in 2010
  • Save up for a 2011 hiking trip - Kili, Nepal, NZ, Machu Picchu......not sure where, but I know I want to do a big one in 2011 that'll take more than free flights (which I can get on miles). I know this doesn't exactly fit with the above, but I feel like my life is flying by and there are so many things I want to do, I need to get them on the schedule. Nothing extravagant, but something fun and challenging. I haven't taken a trip that hasn't involved work at one end or the other for a long time, and that's the plan.
  • Less fees in 2010 - I am so tired of bank fees for me being dumb, even with my crazy schedule, I need to make the time to keep more on top of this and stop paying a fortune in fees

Crafts, Recreation & Home
  • Explore more of Hawaii's hiking routes - use more of my weekends to stress relieving hikes, take the time off to do the longer hikes, Moana Loa (4 days) is top of the list and i'm planning for when I get back from Canada in March
  • Get back into pottery - it's been a few months!
  • No buying soap or shampoo in 2010 - make it all myself from scratch second year in a row!
  • Clear the clutter - one thing in = one thing out, I don't need more "stuff" in my life right now, my little place is as full as it needs to be and it stresses me out to get "stuff".


PleaseRecycle said...

Excellent list of goals!

Don't lose confidence because of the grants. I don't know of any scientists right now who aren't struggling for funds. The good reviews on the first grant are something to be proud of. Any hints in there on what you can do to improve your score?

And seriously, if you want another pair of eyes reviewing before you submit, let me know. Environmental science isn't my expertise, but I love critiquing grants in general (really).

RGW said...

The most frustrating thing on that Antarctic grant is there literally were no suggestions for improvement. I'm waiting on a phone call with the program manager to talk over the (suggested) resubmission and see what she says - she gets back this week. Frustrating, but also uplifiting in some ways, because of the good reviews.

Chile I just don't know, it's a second time around and we did everything the previous reviewers said - their main thing was they loved it but it was ambitious. Sigh. Big sigh. I want those reviews, now!

Thanks for the offer of reading over, I may just take you up on that.....though i'm guessing soon (hopefully really soon!) you'll have your hands full for a while!

nicola@which name? said...

ditto what sarah said. oh, rhian, you are so organized and so impressive with these goals! hang in there. i wish i could relieve some stress.

mum said...

it's a new year,all things are possible
I believe in you,believe in
yourself,you'll get through this