This week has been really busy for me. I felt like crap and had a headache all day yesterday. On Monday I was working and thinking like mad about my research proposal but I also had to finish an annotated bibliography that was due on Tuesday. I had some fruitful dialog over email with Leo about my project, and then finally today I was able to talk to Herb about my research. We didn't have a very long conversation, but it put me at ease about my preparation for the lab meeting this week where everyone will be commenting on my NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Proposal from last year and my new one for this year. I don't have a new research proposal yet but Herb didn't seem to think that was a problem. Whew.
Herb does think that my goal to be primarily a teaching professor is a strike against me for NSF fellowships. I disagree. They put a lot of emphasis on addressing the "Broader Impacts"
of your research and career goals throughout the application. Herb says that that's relatively new for NSF and that old habits die hard. I think that is more likely to be true for NSF grants in general but I don't think this is the case for the GRFP. Certainly the research proposed has to be well thought out and compelling (which mine wasn't last year), but they really want to know what you're going to do with your research to benefit society and engage under represented groups in science. Even though we apparently disagree about how NSF reviewers will weight my career goals, Herb has a lot of experience finding the right way to frame things so they will be most attractive to reviewers so I know his feedback is going to be a boon to my application this year.
I got my hands on a couple of relatively obscure books via interlibrary loan that contain about 75% of what's known about the critters I want to study. I wish I'd gotten these a long time ago! It has been really exciting to read about them. One book also has awesome pencil drawings that inspire me to do more drawing. These books have been on my Amazon.com wishlist for months but I just haven't been able to justify buying them because they're relatively expensive. At least I have them now for a few months. I love books :-)
So, now that I've gotten my NSF drafts to everyone in Herb's lab, made some mental progress on my research ideas, and finished teaching for the week I feel some relief. I think there's some West Wing to be watched tonight...