Feeling the Times (or Thinking I Do)

July 17, 2009

On Wednesday, I manage to finish my response to reviews of my EPSRC grant (the first for which I would be PI; the second I’d be on).

Last month, we had one that I was on (on concrete domains) rejected. The reviews were, all and all, quite good, but the scores weren’t high enough (and in weird, somewhat inconsistent, ways). It’s not really comforting to be told that you are “a team to be jealous of” if the scores aren’t enough to get you funded.

For my grant (on explanation), we again had a lot of praise, but also some strangeness. People didn’t like the management plan, the justification of resources, and the risk management, even going so far to suggest that we didn’t say stuff about these (although we did).

One reviewer was really strange.

So we had a lot of 5s and one 6. In todays funding climate, I expect this to leave us as “fundable but not funded”.

Depressing! Here’s hoping we beat the odds.

Of course, times are tough all over and much tougher for loads of people. I’ve not lost my position (indeed, I just passed probation). I’m not furloughed. I hope things improve soon for people in such situations.

One worrying thing about the funding sitch is that it’s going to really hurt us. Without the concrete domains grant, we can’t hire Maja which raises the risk that not only does Manchester lose her, but so does academia. Similarly, without the explanation grant, Matthew’s situation is precarious as is his ability to do his research. And so on.

Funding these people is, I would think, pretty good stimulus. These are good jobs, which advance us technically, thus having both short term and long term benefits.

But then, I know a person who works for public TV in the States who’s been furloughed for a month. So she doesn’t get paid for a month and stays at home. Thus not only spends less, but doesn’t pay her day care, who also must cut back. Etc. etc. etc. Why not fund PBS? The amount is small and it clearly would help. It’s easy to do, in the sense that all the infrastructure to do it is already in place. (Same with research.)

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