31 October 2014

We are now at the halfway point of the Fall 2014 semester. My group is seeking highly motivated graduate students who are interested in studying quantitative genetics using functional genomics data. I sent advertisement emails to the AGDG-LIST on the 21st and to the AnGenMap mailing list on the 22nd.

The first semester as a new faculty is jam-packed with new things to learn and do. I was literally tossed into the deep end when it comes to writing grant proposals. I was never formally trained in proposal writing throughout my Ph.D. stint, yet this is perhaps the most important skill for faculty. Therefore, I was particularly thrilled to find out that I have been selected to participate in the 2014-2015 Research Development Fellows Program (RDFP). The application deadline was October 3 and the applicant notification arrived on the 17th. This program is designed to offer information and resources that can help pre-tenure faculty members successfully pursue external grant funding. The names of participants were featured on Research News published by the Office of Research & Economic Development (ORED). We will meet monthly beginning in the next month and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to learn grantsmanship.

In parallel to this, the Fall 2014 NURAMP workshop series was being offered by ORED. I participated in the following two NURAMP sessions: Module 2 - Proposal Preparation (Sep. 30) and Module 5 - Administering the Award (Oct. 21). These workshops were engaging and spot on given my needs. It helped getting my head around a variety of funding mechanisms. Some of the topics discussed were also provided as e-Modules at the NURAMP e-Learning Library.

Completing the first draft of my proposal for the Layman Seed Awards has occupied the half of my time in this month. This is one of the internal funding opportunities for tenure-track faculty. Writing the proposal has reaffirmed the scope of my overall research program that I would like to establish at UNL and facilitated refining the specifics of my research design. That said, it is not so easy to spell out the new idea that ties in with my past work as well as make it achievable over a finite period of time. I felt a bit awkward writing science fiction (a.k.a., grant proposal) rather than science nonfiction (journal paper). Of a related note, I worked as a team of faculty in Civil Engineering and Food Science and Technology to submit our multi-disciplinary grant proposal to the Nebraska Research Initiative. My role was Co-PI and the deadline of the proposal submission was October 24.

I attended the New Faculty Success Network Luncheon on the 28th. The theme of this month was “IANR Promotion and Tenure Process”. Below are a few notes I jotted down on what Deans said.

  • tenure is called a continuous appointment at IANR
  • pay attention to your annual evaluation
  • do not hesitate to talk to the Department head or Promotion and & Tenure committee if you have specific concerns in your annual evaluation

I visited Bozeman, Montana to join 2014 NCERA-225 meeting between October 22 and 24. While I did not give any presentation this time, there were way more chances to talk with the bigwigs in my field due to very small number of participants. Travel expenses are reimbursed by receipts instead of per diem at UNL.

Last but not least, Animal Science Alumni Reunion was held at the Nebraska East Union on the 10th. There were about 140 attendees and the Department chair introduced four newly hired faculty members including me to the alumni.

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