The Sassy Scientist – Take Nothing For Granted

The Sassy Scientist – Take Nothing For Granted

Frustrated that her peers have won prestigious grants, while she has no money in the bank whatsoever, Bonnie asks:

How do I win a big grant?

Dear Bonbon,

Everybody knows that the only way to win a grant is by having already won grants. Or awards. I’m not picky. And don’t think that I am joking about this. I am dead serious. At the very least you should have something on your CV that makes you stand out from the crowd. Big time.

Now, calm down. I can see the panic in your eyes: you haven’t won a grant yet; there are no awards gracing your office wall. You are wondering how to get into that inner circle of successful academics that turn even the most established professors a lovely shade of green with envy. Well, here – again – is my advice for you: win a grant. Or award. I know, I know – I just said that, but what I mean is: aim for something small first.

Participate in the student poster/presentation competitions at EGU and AGU (and sometimes smaller conferences also have them!). Submit your story/experience/photograph to the competitions regularly run by Nature. Write a proposal to EGU/AGU/national funding agencies for that outreach project you’d love to realise. Write a strong motivation to win a travel grant for that exotic conference. Write a mini-proposal that would enable you and your collaborators to work on your project on location for a week. As my great friend Maria often tells me: “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”

You can’t expect to win a multi-million ERC grant without ever having written a proposal before. So practice. See if you can get some smaller wins along the way. And then remember to thank me when you finally win the big money.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Could someone nominate me for an award, please? I’m writing a new grant proposal. Thanks.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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