Jen here –
Something that is expected in academia is applying for fellowships, scholarships, and grants. A career in academia relies heavily on getting funding to produce new original research in a lab or in a remote location on Earth (or on another planet, in some cases). Very simply, research can be expensive. Not just research but the cost of living. Many faculty members or primary investigators must incorporate graduate student or post-doctoral researcher funding into their grant proposals. Funding for students is often the most expensive aspect of a grant proposal. In turn, it provides one of the largest impacts. This funding allows young scientists to expand their horizons and produce wonderful science.
Recently I was selected as a recipient of the Yates Dissertation Fellowship. This fellowship allows me to cut my teaching load in half and focus more on writing my dissertation next year. Three students that show high potential for success were selected this year. I applied for this fellowship a few months ago as a “this could be very useful next year” sort of thing. Applying was not terribly difficult. I provided an updated CV (Curriculum Vitae, it’s basically an expanded resume), a cover letter, and the graduate director of our department had to write a letter for me. I provided him with information and Colin (my advisor) and I discussed how the letter should be framed to exploit my strengths. The specific purpose of the fellowship is to free up your time so you could focus on writing. Through the letter of support from my department we were able to highlight by strong publication record and my dedicated work ethic.
Being successful at receiving additional funding is critical to success in academia. It is particularly important that, as young scientists, we are actively applying for fellowships, scholarships, grants, and awards. Each of those things adds another layer to our CV’s – which is one of the things that gets looked at when we are applying for jobs. The more impressive you are in your CV and statements submitted to jobs, the more likely you are to receive an interview.
If you are in the stages of writing small grants for your graduate research or applying for anything that you are a little nervous about please contact us. Sarah (another site collaborator) and I edit each other’s work constantly we also exchange successful proposals so that we can have a base line to start. It is a difficult task to complete all on your own.