With startup funds rapidly dwindling and major external grant funding elusive, this year has been arguably the hardest of my professional career. I don’t say it lightly given that other notable gut punches included switching graduate labs and starting over in a new field after 4+ years in a PhD program, the death of my father during my postdoc, and the birth of my son while finishing my final postdoc paper and going on the job market.  While those challenges were emotionally wrenching, I’ve always dealt with personal hardship through renewed focus on work. But this past year, it felt like more intense work was not yielding improved results in any predictable way. It felt like things were no longer in my control. Success felt arbitrary.
Three months into 2018, things are looking up. I got a score on an R01 equivalent grant, the ESI MIRA, that made my heart skip a beat (in the best way)—fingers crossed! The lab is making good progress and we will soon preprint and submit a couple of papers that I’m very excited to share. I was appointed to the board of directors to one of my favorite organizations, ASAPbio, and became the first early career researcher on the board of directors of the progressive journal, eLife. I attended the ASAPbio/HHMI/Wellcome trust meeting on peer review, where I spent time with several of my science heroes and made some fantastic new friends. I was also filmed for a course on experimental design on one of my favorite educational platforms, iBiology, partly because of some of the posts on this blog! In a truly thrilling development, I was recently asked to be a speaker at this year’s March for Science in my city. In my speech, I hope to highlight the importance of basic science research, the utility of model organisms, and convey my excitement for discovery. What an enormous honor and responsibility! All this is to say that I’m so proud of what the lab is doing and the way we’re doing it! And I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with many inspiring people that share my passions.
Despite a tough year, I know what a privilege it is to do this job and I take so much joy in the findings made by my lab. As always, it is the thoughtful and supportive people in life, Twitter, and New PI Slack that have been my lifeline. Here’s to all of you science warriors. Hang in there. We can do this!
Categories: Reflections