Monday, January 28, 2013

2 PI's and $100k per year give you nothing

My collaborator and I are writing a proposal to NSF together. I wrote the program director to ask about the budget, who then indicated that the total proposal should be $100k per year for the two of us together. I was shocked because I knew that $100k/yr can barely cover a single student and a single PI, but to stretch out twice as thin? That's just crazy talk.

I asked for clarification, and my fears were confirmed. It wasn't crazy talk. It was reality. Now how does NSF expect us to do collaborative research with one of our arms tied behind our back? The era of single PI-grants is coming to an end, so the budget model provided by the director doesn't jive. This can't be real. Anyone had this happen?


Diane said...

Yes. I'm a grantwriter who's gotten NSF funding and brought NSF to campus for workshops. The way we made it work was to buy out some, but not all, of each faculty member's time--maybe one semester's worth, or one course release plus summer. But add students, materials, and indirect cost, let alone travel or a really cool laser, and $100K still doesn't cut it.

VJ said...

Yes, Unfortunately this is the reality. NSF (to quote an old cliche) = Not Sufficient Funding.

Single PI funding is bad enough. If you have more than one PI, you can just about afford to procure a pair of sticks to rub together (or perhaps 30-40% of a graduate student).

Anonymous said...

I served on a NSF panel and basically what was said by all at NSF is that universities can pay faculty salaries, NSF doesn't expect to do so. So they just squeeze tighter and tighter so that you are forced to not get paid for your time and instead devote the money to supplies, analyses, and sometimes, partial student support. Basically I think they are now squeezing things so that they expect universities to also support the students.