Kate’s Casebook

I’ve decided to close this blog for now.

Before the end of last year, I wrote that I’d submitted a research proposal to a research team in another country that I’d very much like to work with in order to learn some new skills so that I may get to the core of my research. I also wrote that I’d submitted a fellowship application to fund the trip.

On Friday, my boss informed me that the head of this other research team has decided to fund me to work with him regardless of whether or not I’ll eventually get the fellowship. Apparently, I managed to impress him enough that he’d like to pay me to go over there.

Am I excited? You bet. Imagine you were a film school student and you’d like to learn how to make psychological thrillers. One day, Alfred Hitchcock (if he hadn’t died) informed you that it didn’t matter what fellowship or scholarship that you’re applying, and he didn’t care much about the statuses of the applications either. He’d like you to fly to an exotic country to work with his crew on a new project. Would you be excited? Of course! When my boss informed me the news, I managed to stay cool initially acting as if it was no big deal. But then I couldn’t wait to run over to tell my buddy at the lab next door. Well. No. I didn’t tell my buddy. I couldn’t say a word. All I could do was literally jumping up and down in front of her like a three-year-old. But being my buddy, she knew I had received some amazing news that I wanted, and I didn’t care that my boss saw me jumping up and down like a kid. She was happy for me anyway. In fact, now that I’m reflecting on the event, I’ve got to ask myself, “how the heck did it happen?!”

In terms of money, I do not know how much Alfred Hitchcock and his crews will be able to give me. I won’t find out until I receive the paperwork. I expect it’ll be enough to keep me survive on the exotic country, but not enough to leave much in the bank account at the end of each month. Hence, I’d still like to get the fellowship that I’ve applied for, so that I’ll have some extra money in my bank account at the end of each month (on top of having an extra line on my CV under honors and awards, of course).

Now, why do I want to close the blog? We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was originally from the UK, but we’ll be working in a developing country (or countries) under a not very open-minded environment. Internet access will be monitored by the government, and external communications will be censored while we’re in the country. I also know for certain that “his studio and his producer” does not like anyone in his team to blog. Hence, I’ve decided to stop writing for now.

However, before I go, I’d like to let you know that I’ve enjoyed being a part of this online community. I’ll continue to read your blogs whenever I can. Maybe someday, I’ll get to write again and tell you all about my experience. But before then, may I wish you all the best. Take care.

2008 is coming to an end, and I am feeling reflective. So I browsed through this humble little blog to see what I have done and not in the past 12 months. Here are the significant happenings in my little world on the work front in 2008:

Personally, I am quite happy with this list. I have accomplished what I wanted to complete in the beginning of 2008, and they should form a good foundation (in terms of experience and skills) on a research area where I would like to focus on for the rest of my degree programme.

Yet, while there are highs, I have certainly experienced some lows. Not everything has been fine and dandy in the past 12 months. Most significantly were related to the difficult people around me. The most annoying ones made sexist comments. Others made statements that intended to undermine another’s achievements for purposes that I have yet to fathom. My unbelievably charming relatives have been still focusing their efforts to stop me from continuing my degrees.

However, I do like what Katie (at Minor Revisions) wrote on a post, where she helped a student to go through similar experience, and she noted,

there are all kinds of ways to feel inadequate in academic fields. All sorts of people who are just waiting to help you do that… I don’t know how to avoid letting it eat you up inside – such a statement would wound me too. But it’s bullshit and you somehow have to know that.

ETA: While I am writing this post, Dr. Isis also wrote a heartfelt response regarding being margalized as a female scientist in response to a reader’s question, where she wrote:

I would love to be able to tell you that there is something you can do that will magically cause the people around you to not treat you in any way that is not kind, nurturing, and supportive for the simple fact that you are a brilliant scientist.  But, you know better than to wear your rose colored glasses and you would know that I was filling your mind with crap.  The people that would discriminate against you will do so because of the person they are — not because of who or what you are.  There will always be someone who doesn’t want you in white male academia and there will be people who think that you are hurting your own cause, whether it’s because you choose to accept a position aimed at increasing the diversity in field or because you accept funding directed to female or minority scientists.  The funny thing is, even if you try to appease them, these people will find something else to use to marginalize you or discriminate against you.  If they don’t see you as a token or a pair of tits for one thing, they’ll do it for something else. It’s not you.  It’s them, and you need not feel ashamed.  There’s also no reason you should accept it silently, although this takes guts to stand up to someone who is marginalizing you.  I’m not always perfect at this, but I am trying.  Really, I am.

You two rock!

With regard to the year ahead, the most significant event will be to find out whether doors will indeed be opened for me after all these foundation building. Will I eventually get the fellowship and/ or internal grant so that I can head over to the other research team in another country, and start getting to the core of my research that I’d like to do? Has my work been good enough to get me to the next level? Or, has the self-proclaimed good work simply not been good enough? Well. If you ask me, my answer as of today is I dunno. But my Boss has been very supportive. And I have talked to the head of the other team after he read through my research proposal, which was before the holiday began, and he sounded rather positive about the prospect that we would eventually work together as well. Hence, I am hopeful. Yet, if the moving does not work out, hmm.. I will have to figure out a plan B. In either case, what will happen for the majority of next year will depend very much on the decision on the fellowship and/ or internal travel grant. 

I should know the result in March. Fingers crossed.

This post is written for the scientiae carnival.

The upcoming edition of scientiae will be posted at acmegirl’s on New Year’s Day. Theme of the month: As one door closes, another one opens. Likewise, as one door opens, another one closes.


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