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The DDIG: a comprehensive guide

Workshop: Writing Successful NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants Irene Newton, Spencer Hall, Heather Reynolds, September 9th, 2013 - revised August 17, 2015
Contents:
Introduction: nuts and bolts, can/should you do this?....................................................
Sage advice: what makes a good DDIG? what makes a bad one?...................................
Merit review criteria: mock panel summaries for competitive ……………………….……… and non competitive grants
Introduction
The National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) and Integrative Organismal Biology (IOB) offer PhD candidates a great opportunity to apply for research money while starting a relationship with NSF. Through its Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) program, NSF awards up to $13K (direct costs) for 24 months to students meeting eligibility requirements.  In this document we first provide a brief overview of the process and proposal organization, then focus most of our atte…

Lab Tweaks

I was inspired by a recent Planet Money podcast on tweaking the world and am adapting some of their suggestions and including a few of my own below with reference to the scientific laboratory.  Playing the science game can be grueling work - and often unrewarding (what!? I've got to repeat that experiment again?!).  Being that we wade in a bog of negative results and criticisms daily, I like to think of ways to make the process more pleasant for my people.  After all, happy people are more productive, so it's really entirely in my own interest, as a PI, to create a good work environment.

(1) A place to eat as a group: (doing this now)
At Harvard, it's called the "tea room", at IU it's called the "break room" -- whatever you call it -- the space that people in your lab can use to congregate around the water cooler/coffee machine/microwave is sacred.  This space not only provides a safe place to eat (esp. for those in BSL2 labs) but also provides oppo…

Gestating a human takes less time than publishing a paper

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Long have scientists ranted about the arbitrary and lengthy process of peer review (see a great post on what is wrong with peer review by Michael Eisen).  Now it's my turn, alright?

What is supposed to happen during peer review (an evaluation of the merits of the paper, an assessment of novelty/impact, and constructive criticism of the science) can happen.  But this is a story about how it failed, in one particular way.  A story, in three parts (three rounds of reviews) -- about how it will take me less time to create a fully formed human being than it will take to publish this manuscript.

Part I: Submitting a manuscript to PLoS Pathogens

We've got some exciting new work coming out of the lab -- I won't be shy about it.  We've discovered an interesting interaction between Drosophila actin and Wolbachia.  We had several lines of evidence to support our conclusions (immunohistochemistry + microscopy, western blots, PCR) and so submitted a presubmission inquiry to PLoS Pa…