Never in my life have I been in a place where I didn’t have something to do.
I started preschool at 4. I received my degree at 20. I got my admission deferred to grad school for a year to take care of family issues but I knew that was my next step. I received graduate degree at 29. When I defended my thesis I already knew where I would be working in the fall. That summer I even worked two jobs (teaching and research) before I moved to New York. With that said, I’m no stranger to work and education. I’ve never been indolent.
For the past 20 months I’ve poured a lot of time and effort into my job. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about my research. I make a decent amount of money which means shit because I live in an expensive city. I work weekends (without pay). I work[ed] 8-12 hour workdays (without overtime). I don’t complain because it comes with the territory. This is the profession I chose. I like science. I like that my work is rewarding and may some day go into saving countless lives.
I like science but I’m also interested in politics. I’ve paid attention to Obamacare to the presidential election to the looming fiscal cliff and more recently the recent sequestration. Politics interest me but it has never really affected me in a personal way. I’d tune into MSNBC or CNN and see accounts of people who were laid off in private and government sectors due to choices made in Congress. While I may have felt for them it never really hit home. Until two weeks ago.
For anyone reading this who isn’t really sure how basic science research is funded I’ll break it down for you. If you are a basic scientist unless you work for a private company like Merck, Pfizer or Johnson&Johnson chances are the money that pays your salary comes from the government in the form of research grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH- the largest), the Department of Defense (DOD), National Science Foundation (NSF), etc. This means that the money that funds the research done in this country on diseases such as cancer, HIV, muscular dystrophy, ADHD, etc is earmarked by Congress and approved by the President of the United States.
These are the cuts that some research agencies are facing due to the sequestration:
National Institutes of Health: $2,393,820,000
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $444,600,000
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: $29,016,000
Food and Drug Administration: $191,100,000
National Science Foundation: $538,200,000
I never really thought about how Congress’ ineptness could lead to me being without a job. That is exactly what happened two weeks ago. My boss called me into her office and told me that she had been writing two different grant proposals and they both got really good scores that under normal circumstances would have gotten funded but because of the sequester they weren’t. Basically she ran out of money to pay as many people as she does. I could write about how my boss had to have seen this coming months in advance but only gave me 30 days notice but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to focus on the positive.
For now I’m content to move back to the DMV (a place I haven’t lived in 9 years) and relax for a little bit. I haven’t been able to kick my feet up in such a long time. I’ll be working on a couple of projects that I’ve never had the time to start, playing in a couple basketball leagues, and I may even get my bartender’s license. I know I will be traveling a great deal this summer so I might be coming to a city near you. I know what my next move will be but I don’t exactly know when it will be and I’m ok with that. I’m excited about the possibility of continuing cancer research while expanding my teaching experience and working with outreach initiatives. Until then I’m going to enjoy time to myself. Something that I haven’t done in a long time.