Sunday, February 6, 2011

To K99 or to not K99....

So, here is the question, write and submit the damn thing or focus on getting out papers etc. in the next 6 months.
  • A little added info-- I was planning on starting to apply this coming fall/January to start in summer of  2012.  
  • Applying to/shooting for a mid-tier research institute (ok, so MIT and Harvard are not in my cards, but I don't want to end up at small tiny university in Podunk, USA if I don't have to- big boss man agrees that I can hack a second tier research institute and is fully supportive of this career move.  God knows he has seen enough of us coming through to know if you have the shit needed to be successful or not).  
  • As of September 2012, I will am 5 years our from my defense, so no longer eligible for the K99
  • I currently and in the second year (started year two in Dec 2010) of a three year F32 (YAY!)
  • I have 4 first author papers out, two that I am writing now and three more that need to be written up in the next six months (minor experiments need to be finished)-I am also middle author on three papers right now from our collaborator's.  That number may increase
  • I don't do "Glamor Mag" science--I mean the science, technical merit, caliber of the actual work is worthy of Glamor Mag status but the topic- not so much.  I am a basic science research sort of person.  While what I do is important and there is a HUGE interest in it, it is not generally thought of as Scieney paper stuff-which is common in my subset of the broad sweeping category of Chemical Biology.  I am OK with that, though.  
  • Sometimes, when you look at my CV, I look like the jack of all trades (and I feel like the mistress of none sometimes)--I switched fields (big switch) coming into my post-doc, but I can apply some of the techniques I used in grad school which is useful
  • Recommendations will be great.  And right now, I am working for one of the biggest names in the field at a highly ranked research university-so I have that going for me.
So, do I take the chance and "waste" my time writing one of these (especially knowing I heave a bit of a deadline for a resubmission etc. to stay qualified) or should I just pound out the papers and hope I look good enough on paper to the search committees.  Any clues/help/advice would help at this point.  My boss looks at the K99 as an "meh-no biggy- let me see the papers" sort of thing but I worry he might be a tad old school.  So, feel free to discuss below.  I'll tell you later in the comments which way I am leaning......


Comrade PhysioProf said...

Based on what you have said about your existing accomplishments, you sound like an outstanding candidate for a K99, and I strongly urge you to write it. BTW, you should definitely discuss your plans with your F32 program officer. She will be a source of both substantive scientific advice as well as technical K99 advice. In terms of the latter, for example, some Institutes consider the five-year deadline to only apply to the initial submission, and will allow you to submit a resubmission application after the five-year deadline has passed.

Beaker Half Full said...

I may not be the best person to give advice since I am still a grad student, but I did ask my PI about whether having a K99 was needed to get faculty positions. Our department is currently doing a faculty search and apparently, many people on the interview schedule do not have a K99 (or other funding). In fact, my PI did not bring any funding with him when he started. I was shocked because we are a top 5 institution and fully expected this as a requirement, but apparently I was wrong.

In the end though, I think that trying for the K99 is not a bad idea. I will do it myself (when I get to that point) because if nothing else, it will help me synthesize my research plan and help me organize my thoughts for a future in independent research.

Dr. Zeek said...

Thanks for the advice CPP and BHF. I think I will contact the program officer and see what he thinks. And I appreciate the "ego-boost" this morning CPP. I worry that my science isn't "sexy" enough for a K99 sometimes.

Since I am starting to put together a research proposal for the job search this is probably going to help me sit down and organize everything.

So here is another random question- the year of "post-doctoral" support doesn't mean you have to stay for a year? I mean, let's say I write the thing, it gets funded and I find a position three-six months out, no one is going to say "oh you have to stay?"

BHF- I am at a top 10 institute right now and in the past two years we have done three faculty searches. I would say roughly 18 out of the past 21 candidates that were invited for interviews had K99 awards, so I started getting a tad nervous. Like I said, though, my boss (again, he is pretty old-school) scoffed at the K99 and was more interested in their publishing record.

Anonymous said...