Home » PMS » Research dreams shaken after SFN (gotta go where the money is)

Research dreams shaken after SFN (gotta go where the money is)

So SFN is officially over and now I have time to assimilate all things that happened there. As always, SFN was a little bit overwhelming: posters, networking, and of course meeting lots of old (and new = banter) friends. Doing all this for 5 days requires a lot of energy! This SFN I didn’t go shopping. Didn’t go to the zoo or sightseeing anything. I was all the time in the convention center, working and working hard.

This was my 11th SFN meeting. I attend to it every year since 2002 (except last year when I had my visa problems). Along these years I met many researchers and I believe I can say that I know almost everybody in the subarea of the big area of my research (does it make sense?). So it is a subarea. And it’s not cancer, or Parkinson, or similar. No one dies because of it, and unfortunately there’s no much incentive to it. Number of posters were clearly diminished, it’s been a couple of years since there was a nanosymposium about it.

This year I had more background to talk to researchers about research and funding. Thanks to twitter I know what’s going on in the big research world, but I had no idea what was going on in the microcosmos of my research. I am terrified. People slowly leaving the field, or asking grants for some other topic and working in both at the same time. Talked to a member of the search committee for my top job app and he told me that he changed fields because “you gotta go where the money is”. Another European researcher told me he has been in his position for 5 years and just now he got his first grant in this line of research. Before he was asking money for something else and doing this at a side project. Always.

I still have that romantic view of science, of getting excited with data, with results – and not really worried about top techniques or top journals. I still wanted to do animal physiology and not intracellular measurements of calcium currents, or genetic manipulations of a specific receptor or ion channel. Don’t take me wrong, I believe that’s really important, but it’s just not what I’ve been trained to. And now I’m starting to believe that I have to rethink my future research to find out hot topics that can be combined with my research, not because I care about them or because I think they are necessary, but because I need to get a job and money for my research.

This makes me feel like a research whore.

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One thought on “Research dreams shaken after SFN (gotta go where the money is)

  1. Pretty strong words there. I’m trying not to let it get me down before I graduate! My advisor is always talking about potential irrelevant but lucrative directions we can take current projects, so maybe I’m getting blasé about it.

    I also work in a field where nobody is dying and money is limited. It’s a big struggle. It annoys me that the academic life doesn’t actually let us escape financial realities, lol.

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