Wednesday, December 17, 2008

March 9!

At my committee meeting this morning we set a date for my prelims- March 9, 2009! Two weeks before that I need to send them my proposal in DDIG format. A month before that, I should send them a rough draft so I can get feedback on the proposal before my prelims. This adds a lot of deadlines to my calendar, but I'm excited about it! I'm actually so excited that I can't focus on much right now so I'm blogging instead.

The meeting went well. Chip was late* so it started a little bit late, but it took about 1.5 hours from planned start time to actual finish. My presentation was probably 20-25 minutes (I didn't time it), and they mostly saved their questions for the end. Before everyone left we scheduled the date, and I'll schedule individual meetings with committee members over email.

One thing that is exciting and daunting at the same time are the high-risk, high-cost research possibilities of my dissertation. After talking it over with my committee, the plan is for me to execute a failsafe, low-cost, straightforward project or two in Ukenzagapia this summer, while testing the feasibility of as many high-risk, high-cost methods as I reasonably can. Ideally I will be able to publish a small paper or two from next summer's data. Then, there are FIVE different high-tech methods, any of which would be awesome additions to my dissertation... if they work. I presented the five as possibilities but thought that a few of them might be ruled out collectively by the committeee. Nope. At least one person is really excited about each of those methods. So, I'll need to do pilot projects with these this summer.

After discussing all of these methods, Leo said that it sounds like my budget is quickly outstripping the typical DDIG award ($10-15,000), so how do I think I can fund my research? I don't think I answered this question as well as I could've. I've thought about this quite a bit (e.g. all of my ruminations on funding), though apparently not much this semester as evidenced by my lack of posts about funding and my slowness to respond to Leo's question. I told him I'm not afraid to ask for money, I've still got a slew of NGOs to ask for funds, and I'll definitely submit a DDIGish proposal. Herb says next year I should think about submitting a full NSF proposal with Sam, but with funding rates as they are that's almost a shot in the dark (more of a 'learning experience' unless the NSF budget gets a major boost). In the worst case scenario, I'm pretty confident that I can get $10,000 in the next two years to fund low-tech projects (that's probably a bare minimum budget once you factor in transportation & necessary fees). And when push comes to shove, if I don't get money for the high-tech stuff, I won't do it. My dissertation has to be viable without those extras.

*I should've told him it started 30 minutes earlier than it actually did. I'll try this for my prelims.


EcoGeoFemme said...

Awesome! I'm glad it went well for you!

Given the time and expense you described, if I were in your shoes I think I'd be looking for ways to eliminate at least one of the five methods before everyone agrees on the final research plan at the exam.

Albatross said...

Sounds like a great meeting! How exciting to set your prelims!

The funding is tricky...but I agree with EGF about prioritizing. If you have enough to do pilot work on all of them, perhaps the resulting data will help you prioritize your costs.

Eppendork said...

What can you beg, borrow or steal? Quid pro quo is good too - you could say they could be a second or a third author on a future based on the research. Which technique is not at its hottest yet? Because if you get in on the ground floor so to speak with that technique then your paper will be cited more often and pop up more often in searches :)