Grants 101

Sept. 11, 2019

So you want to be a researcher? Chances are that you will be required to secure external funding to conduct your research at some point in your career. The dizzying array of grant-related terminology and processes can be difficult to navigate for early career scientists.

The good news is that there is a common framework to all grant proposals regardless of funding agencies. The presenters of the Grant Writing Webinar Series are deeply experienced grant writers for multiple agencies, and they are committed to helping early-career scientists learn essential grantsmanship skills. Let’s hear a few tidbits from our presenters:

What Do You Enjoy about Running a Grant-funded Research Laboratory?

Running a grant-funded research laboratory is an incredible job. Grants are awarded to support ideas that you have developed and represent problems you are passionate about. Grant funds allow you to solve puzzles and provide solutions that can improve the environment, human health, or the world around us. Running a grant-funded research laboratory also provides the opportunity to mentor bright, creative, and excited young scientists and help them move on to rewarding careers in science. The freedom that this job provides is unmatchable, and is something that I look forward to everyday. – Dr. Eric Skaar, Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

What Is Your Top Piece of Advice for Novice Grant-Writers?

Write an outline of the ideas you might have. Every night, try to start assembling them into coherent concepts. Eventually, you will have a draft of major concepts that you can extract a testable hypothesis and goals to achieve. You can forget about writing the first draft in the format requested by the funding agency. Start doing that in the second draft, where you have a hypothesis and perhaps 2-3 aims. – Dr. Alfredo Torres, The Herman Barnett Distinguished Professor in Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch

Why Are Foundations a Great Source of Funding?

Foundations and private funders who raise money from the public, like the American Cancer Society, are great sources for funding because they have a wide variety of interests. Many of them have focused programs that may fit your work, and the overarching drivers of your work, very well. Even though the grants may be highly competitive, you could be competing with others who work in your field, rather than also competing with everyone working in related fields. Also, many private funders are better at building networks among their awardees than public funders. Through foundations’ awardee-focused gatherings, early-career scientists develop helpful scientific connections and form lasting friendships with informal advisors or connection-makers faster and easier than their peers who don’t have private funding. Don’t talk yourself out of applying! – Dr. Victoria McGovern, Senior Program Officer, Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Author: ASM Careers

ASM Careers
How can you make the challenges of a microbiology career just a bit less stressful? One way: Reach out to colleagues for advice, support and inspiration. ASM Careers helps you do just that - virtually!

Author: Contributor

The Education Board's mission is to educate individuals at all levels in the microbiological sciences. It supports both student and faculty development through fellowships, online publications, conferences, workshops, and institutes, and networking opportunities.