Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kindness of strangers

I grew up in the Midwest, land of good neighbors, but I am always amazed when people you don't know go out of their way to help you. I'm a senior (read: old) postdoc and finally decided to bite the bullet and write a K99. Great. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, right? Wrong.

Having decided to start, I realized I had no idea where to start. I've written my share of grants, from small society postdoc awards to writing the majority of an R01 (and serving as grants administrator), but man is this one is tough. It's not that it's a big grant, because although it does cover 5 years and is kinda like a mini R01, my problem is that no one at my institution really knows what the hell it is, much less how to write one.

Enter the stranger. I've been looking for online help for a little while now and was blown away when I recently asked, and received a copy of someone's recent K99 application. If I'd known the person it wouldn't have been a big deal. Or even if I was just loosely associated with the person (I also got a copy of a new faculty members application).

Instead, I was essentially an anonymous voice asking for help. Not quite as dramatic as a cry for help in a barren wasteland, but I was emotionally getting kinda desperate.And I got a response within an hour.

Thank you.

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