How is your PI training you to write grants?

May 07 2013 Published by under Late-stage PhD student

An interesting thing happened during last week's lab meeting. Rather than spending the first 30-40 minutes on mundane lab issues like who left the dishes in the sink or who's responsible for teaching the undergrad how to dissect Drosophila larvae, my PI held an impromptu Q&A session on grantsmanship. Being the old-blood, gray-beard, grad student that I am and having lived through (and helped in the process of) writing grants, progress reports, and renewals with my PI, I've heard her thoughts and experiences at various points during my grad school career. But, I could see that her advice on to how to craft each one of these things as well as cultivating a relationship with your program officer was enlightening to the newer students and foreign postdoc in the lab.

It got me thinking about if and how other PIs were directly preparing their trainees in successful grant writing.

7 responses so far

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    While my grad PI did not push me to write grants/fellowships he mentioned it every once in a while so I wrote one and ended up getting it. It was a great experience. Since then I have written another fellowship application and also worked 75% on an RO1 that my PI is submitting soon. I think the experience of writing that first fellowship application made me realize that writing a grant is an art and I need to master it before applying for TT. Now I have moved to a postdoc position and the new PI hasn't discussed anything about grant writing yet. However, I know that I am going to write a postdoc fellowship because it will be good for my CV, good for improving my grantsmanship and also because I enjoy it at this point (I'm sure the enjoyment will stop and the desperation will begin when my career depends on grant writing!)

  • Anon says:

    My PI is not preparing me to do this at all. She's pre-tenure (don't know if that makes a difference), and even though she knows that I'm a good writer (she's praised me for that before), and I've explicitly expressed interest in helping her write grants and whatever, she never takes me up on it. I'd like to change this but don't know what else to do except offer to help. Having done that a few times now over the past year, I think I should stop or else risk becoming a pest? What else can or should I do? Any guesses as to why she doesn't include me in this?

    • AmasianV says:

      Have you thought about writing/applying for a fellowship?

      • Anon says:

        I'm a 3rd-yr PhD student, so I don't qualify for NSF-type fellowships aimed at folks just starting out. Don't really know of any other opportunities that would be applicable until the post-doc stage. I guess I'm just curious as to what's going on w/my PI, because I hear other grad students often help out w/proposals, but in my lab, this doesn't happen at all.

          • Anon says:

            Thanks for the replies, AmasianV and MA. I might possibly be eligible for NIH stuff, depending on how I frame my research. From their webpage, it's hard to know if pre-doctoral fellowships are aimed at folks just starting out or not. Any opinions on that? I was thinking that since I'm graduating in the next year or 2, I should just write a post-doc fellowship. Do NIH folks do this before they are post-docs? Or is this typically done when you are already at a lab and have some data for your own project, etc?

        • drugmonkey says:

          NIH postdoc fellowships depend heavily on the host laboratory. so typically it would be written once in the lab. sometimes people will write it before but that requires a lot of interacting with the host laboratory.

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