As a family scientists, I’ve written for – and received, over 1.5 million dollars in federal funding to run theoretical or applied research. Some scientists reach the hundreds of millions by the time they retire. There are also, however, new scientists who are just starting their careers and dreaming of their first grant award…and that’s where I come in.
Standing in front of classrooms full of graduate students, I have painstakingly answered questions on what it takes to write a successful grant proposal. And, during the budgeting information, I ALWAYS tell them this: “Please…please for the love of all that you cherish, build in some breathing room. No matter how detailed and accurately you think your budget has been prepared, you will run into surprises. And, sometimes those surprises are costly.”
I had flashbacks to those classroom sessions when I opened our camera case this morning. In the case was everything I had ordered and paid for. One camera; some wires to connect to a computer; one battery. Wait. ONE battery? Oh, this can’t be good…
A few minutes go by while I order a package of back-up batteries and a car charger. We’re going to be miles from people and plug-ins. We need a car charger. I completed my order and went back to the camera case.
A tripod. I need a tripod. I KNEW I needed a tripod, but for some reason when I made my list of inventory and sat down to research prices and place all the orders, tripods just didn’t come up. Cripes.Back to the computer: “Okay…(I’m talking to myself)…research tripods, research tripods.” At that moment, my phone beeped. I looked down and Audrey Dodgen messaged me through Twitter: “I’ve had many over the years, and this one is far and away my favorite. Great size for traveling.”
I clicked on the link. “Ooohhhh,” I said under my breath. “Nice telescoping capacity.” But the price tag was a little steep. More research, and five minutes later I make a choice.
DONE. We are DONE ordering our equipment. I thought about my grad students again. This would be a good illustration to share the next time I talk about funding. “Regardless of your planning, or your level of maturity, things still come up. Give yourself some breathing room.”
I think our oxygen needed for that breathing room is depleting fast, but we’re done with equipment orders. We’re ready to pilot next Saturday. And, I’m doing research on Carney, Oklahoma.
I wonder who we’ll meet?