Even though I was considering writing a K99 a while ago, now Dr. BrownEyes and I have decided that plan A is going to be to move back home in about 2 years. Since back home there aren’t really tenure track positions like here in the US, most people that want to stay in academia will do a second postdoc that will then slowly move into an independent position when you’ve acquired money to hire someone. This means that you’re still under the umbrella of a full professor, which is just the way the system is. So we’re shortly going back home in August to network ourselves back into a postdoc position there, and talk about the grants that we should write (because they will probably offer us a contract for a year unless we get our own grant money).
So far, the planning is all going well, but since it’s all pretty informal I only very recently realized that I should have something to say about what I want to do in the future. And that’s when I do realize that I might be somewhat of an imposter. Because I find it so hard to think of good, solid ideas for experiments to propose in a grant. So far, my PhD project was thought of mostly by my advisor, and my postdoc project that I’m working on now was thought of by me, but I’m currently not so sure if that was a good idea…. So now I have to come up with an idea that adheres to all of these criteria: it has to be fundable, it has to get publishable results within a relatively short period (3 yrs) of time, it has to fit within the lab that I’m going to (and since I’m interviewing at two different labs I should think of two slightly different projects), it has to have experiments that can be doable by undergrads so that I can get help, it should preferably have some pilot-data from my current postdoc, it would be nice if it has something sexy like optogenetics (or is that all 2009 now?), and it has to be interesting to me. I put this last reason last on purpose, because all this idea-generating anxiety sometimes makes me forget that I just have to think of something that interests me. What also makes me doubt my ability to generate interesting ideas is the fact that my attempts at getting postdoc grants has so far failed. Three out of four were rejected and I haven’t heard back from the fourth.
So how do people do this? Just sit down and think of experiments to do? And how do you make rejected grants not doubt your ability to think of good ideas?