Various Lies

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's a Dirty Job, but I gotta do it

We have just run an internal grant "competition" for a small Pilot Program to help provide running cost funds for faculty doing translational research who are close to submitting full scale grants. These folks need a bit of cash to help defray, for example, lab costs, or equipment costs to generate the preliminary data for a full NIH R01. The grants are a nice of bit of emergency cash, especially if your start-up funds are running low, or your grant got bounced for the old bullshit of "not enough preliminary data".

Competing Faculty had to outline a mentoring plan (to be mentored if junior, to mentor if senior) and a Letter of Intent. My institute is hoping to fund a handful of these depending on our final budget for the year. Competition was quite fierce, with over forty Letters of Intent being submitted. The selection committee threw darts worked diligently and selected over twenty to invite for full submission.

It of course fell to muggins here to send the notification emails. I did the wise thing (natch), and sent mass BCC emails. I was careful to have only 10 names/email so as not to irritate the email server. I used my address in the "To" field so I'd know they were sent correctly. and, of course, I have OCD like any good geek, and I know I did it right. I have since triple, quadruple, quintuple checked...because, needless-to-say, not everybody got the damned email!

At first it looked like a couple of our adjunct faculty were the only ones because they don't use the same email address as the rest of campus, and the wrong email addresses were listed in our Faculty Directory (natch). Then a couple of days ago (8 days after initial notices were sent) I found out that some of our on-site (and unfortunately, very senior) faculty were wondering about the status of their application.

Quintuple checking my original emails I saw that there was no rhyme, nor reason, for these non-deliveries. Nothing had bounced back from the server warning me of full in-boxes, for example. Of the ~10 names/email there was a randomness to delivery failure that precluded, say, the last three on each not being delivered. Some times Dr. Cxxxx would not receive the email whereas Dr. Txxxx did.

So, here I am, some ten days after the emails went out, frantically trying to contact everyone, by phone yesterday and email today.

"Dear X
please confirm receipt of the Pilot Project email regarding your Letter of Intent. Please confirm regardless of application status,
Dr. Tideliar"

And, as of now I am only waiting on 12 more responses. Thank fuck only one has indicated that he didn't get the message. Unfortunately, he is also one of the Super Senior Faculty and a Core Director. Ho Hum. My ass, see that fire over there? Yeah. That's for you.

Anyway, everyone who was approved who's replied to me has sent a brief note, "Hi, yeah, got your email saying we've been approved."

I have also had to contact, by phone & email, those who didn't get asked to submit, and that sucks. I don't want them to get a message from me and think, "Oh! Maybe I am approved after all!". Some responses have been very abrupt;

"Yes. I got your email saying we were rejected."

...ouch...sorry mate. But I didn't make the call. However, as Professor in Training wrote a while back, and as did Stephen Curry on his blog "Reciprocal Space" on the Nature Network, it's a kick in the balls to be rejected. I know. I too have written/am writing grants and been rejected more times than I have succeeded.

Some have however, taken it with...let's just say, have taken a different tone:

"Dear Dr. Tideliar
Yes, (unfortunately) we received your email. :)

Of course, we are looking for other
sources to study these needed areas since no evidence-based suggestions currently exist in treating these patients.

I look forward to future interactions.

Have a great weekend, Prof. Mega"

Just getting one like this made this scuttlebutt gig OK. Thank you Prof. Mega, even though you don't it. Sometimes it sucks to be the messenger.

1 comment:

microbiologist xx said...

OMG, that would make me crazy. I have what I like to call a nagging OCD. It's there, it's manageable, but it likes to remind me that it could take over my life...any second. When I do something important where people are depending on me, like you, I check the shit out of everything, as many times as I possibly can. If something still goes wrong, after all that checking and rechecking, I go crazy and start second guessing every stupid thing possible.
I am glad to see that some people were cool about the whole thing though.