Friday, January 25, 2008


My university employs a lobbyist. One of the jobs of the lobbyist is to pitch alluring high-dollar research projects to congress and try to snag some earmarks and whatnot.

Several projects I've been involved in have been included, at one time or another, in the bunch of projects the lobbyist shops around, with varying degrees of success.

On the one hand, I like to get funding for cool projects. And if somebody's going to get funding for cool projects, why not me?

On the other hand, I have a strong philosophical objection to congressional pork projects.

What's a girl to do?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Am I really necessary?

So. I am back from my maternity leave. Something that strikes me as weird is how little work I did while I was off, and how smoothly my career continued to move forward while I was not working. I realize this is due to a few factors: judicious selection of excellent and independent graduate students, the fact that most projects unfold over a long time period, and the fact that I have enough written products (papers, proposals, etc.) that there's an element of fast cut/paste to subsequent similar efforts.

But in my absence: my class continued through the end of the semester with grading assistance from a TA, one of my grad students wrote a successful proposal for his next year of funding, I was a co-I on two large proposals, and two papers were accepted after just some minor revision.

If you had asked me, had I not been going on maternity leave (which was more or less mandatory, and so I didn't ask myself too many questions about it), if I could take 2+ months off work and not have everything fall apart, I would have said absolutely no. I can't even take a 2 week vacation without feeling hopelessly behind when I get back. But I don't feel hopelessly behind at all. If anything, I feel a little bit ahead, in the sense that I'm not behind, and I sort of thought I would be.

(An obvious difference is that when you're on vacation people still ask you to do things, and when you're on maternity leave, they don't. But still.)