Friday, March 20, 2009

budgeting for my prelim proposal --> NSF grant proposal

The proposal I wrote for my preliminary exam is now moving into the next stage as an NSF proposal. The bulk of it is there but I need to incorporate suggestions from my committee members and add the additional sections, such as a budget.

I'm presently feeling a bit intimidated by the budgeting process. Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while or who know me in real life probably know that my project is much more expensive than most graduate student projects.* Thankfully, I seem to be pretty good at getting small grants.** But what really makes this NSF proposal complicated is that I'm basically setting up a small research program involving students from an Ukenzagapian university with my Ukenzagapian collaborator. So, I'm also trying to get money to support their research on projects that are sub-projects of my main project. And I'm quickly hitting the budget limit. I'm going to have to write additional grants.

Writing multiple grants for the same project requires careful consideration of which organizations are more likely to fund what. For example, I know there are funds for supporting the advancement of scientists in developing countries, so I can ask them for funds to cover aspects of the project that will directly assist foreign scientists. That frees up some of the NSF budget, but I still need to include some support for foreign scientists in my NSF budget to show that I've put my money where my mouth is when it comes to "broader impacts."

Now where to get the rest of the money? If I get a grant I applied for last month, then I can use that money to buy some of the supplies. If not... that's another contingency plan I need to make. I've got some ideas.

*Actually, that's probably not true. There are plenty of grad students who do projects using very expensive equipment, much more so than any equipment I'll need (though mine is only cheap relative to $200,000+ machines). The difference is that my advisors don't have grants to support my research, so I've got to get the grants myself.
**I also applied for almost everything for which I was eligible. I think this is good advice. Eventually you're bound to get something.

1 comment:

Kent H said...

In thinking about where to get money to support your research, be sure to think about where within NSF to ask for money. In addition to the usual Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants for people in ecology, evolution, and systematics (run through the Division of Environmental Biology) there is a Doctoral Dissertation Enhancement Program (run through the International Division). One advantage of the DDEP is that they have a rolling deadline for applications instead of only a single target date every year.