Here are some commonly asked questions about Grants, about Morgan, and about her teachings
Why is the grant game so brutal right now?/strong>
It’s basic math: the number of grants being funded has stayed nearly flat for 10 years, while the number of applications has nearly doubled in that same time period. Universities are hiring many faculty now without hard salary lines; instead they expect these faculty to bring in grants to support their salary. This puts a big burden on the system of faculty applying for grants – not because they have great projects – but because they must support their salary and/or have grants to get tenure.
The situation is made worse because some people react to this situation by applying for more grants, to “improve the odds.” This is a quantity over quality approach that has little chance of working in the long run, as I’ve shown in some of my webinars. While getting grants does involve randomness, your odds are directly proportional to the quality of the ideas and the writing in the proposal. If you water down the quality in order to submit quantity, then the odds go down.
Is submitting more grants with lower odds really better than submitting fewer grants with greater odds? What is the cost to both the writer and reviewers in producing and reviewing an ever-increasing number of “watered down” grants?
Q: Why did Morgan leave UNC and academia?
By 2009, Morgan had tenure at UNC Chapel Hill, with appointments in three departments: Microbiology & Immunology, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer Science. However, she was growing restless. She wanted to be back in the beautiful mountains of the Western USA, and she wanted to dive further into the world of business. She’d had the entrepreneurial bug for many years, having been involved in founding and/or running five other companies over time, and she felt that it was time to do it “for real.” Around that same time, there were some significant shakeups in the management above her at UNC Chapel Hill that left her position (in terms of space and support) in question. In late 2010, she decided that it was an opportune time to leave.
She made the move to Boise State at the beginning of 2011. She worked part-time as research faculty while building her business. Her goal was to finish some of the research she’d started, and perhaps continue it at a smaller scale. In mid-2012, she came to realize that her efforts were being split too much between helping her grant, coaching, and creativity/innovation clients, her book writing efforts, and trying to keep her lab going. She decided to focus on the business and writing efforts for the time being.
Q: Isn’t it better to learn grant writing from someone who is doing it right now?
Let’s take the example of a basketball coach. Many coaches are ex-players, but none of them are currently active playing professional basketball. They bring the experience and wisdom of someone who has “played the game,” but their position off the court gives them a perspective that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Morgan actively played the grant game from the time of her first grant in 1994 until her most recently funded award, a U24 to her and collaborators in 2011. During that timespan she brought in well over $23 million, including a prestigious “RC2 Grand Opportunities” award in 2009 and a K22 “Genome Scholar” award in 2000. She has experience with both academic awards (NIH, NSF, Canadian Science Foundation, Genome Canada, etc) and with business grants/awards (state and local grants to small business). She had four R01 grants funded in nine years as a faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill, with three of those funded on the first round of submission.