The other main reason why I haven't blogged as much as when I started nor as much as I've wanted is because the GEARS lab has had unchecked growth and has turned into (at times) an unwieldy monster. Over 2 years ago, I wrote a post about the difference between 18 & 27 which can be summed up as: You might as well dive into the tenure track position because you're not going to be successful by being timid. In hindsight, I cannot tell if that is bad advice or good advice, but I can tell you it really sucks at times. I think when I wrote that post I was having delusions of grandeur where I would go 5 for 5 on the 4 DoD YIPs and the NSF CAREER and demonstrate to the world my awesomeness. Fast forward 2 years and 0 for 5 later, my awesomeness has clearly been overlooked by program managers and reviewers. That's not to say I haven't had success with funding. I'm actually closing in on 7 figures of externally funded research as PI or coPI, which I think is a good pace to be on. I just don't know how the hell I'm going to sustain it without getting a bigger award.
The GEARS lab currently has 10 graduate students, a handful of undergrads, and I'm an informal faculty advisor to about 7-8 other students, which has left me strapped for time to get all of the other things I need to do done. Because I have been successful on the funding front, I've picked up twice as many students than in my original plan, which is basically like grabbing the tail of a lion. You can only hope to hang on at times, let alone corral it. I mentioned advising 10 students to some faculty at UGU, and their response can be summarized as "what the hell are you thinking?!?".
The good news is that I have a nice mix of students from three different departments that are all hardworking, dedicated, intelligent individuals. Most are either writing their first first-author paper or waiting to hear back from reviewers (fingers crossed). That's pretty awesome. I also have some good undergraduates that I think should be able to write a patent on their work and then submit a paper on it. That too has been pretty cool. We've had a couple of patent applications and invention disclosures too, which I think has been some pretty good output so far. And probably the best thing, at least individually for me is that my book was finally published and I have received a copy in print. I've even had a random cold-call question from someone who has actually bought it and read it.
Basically I've been spending 10-12 hours a day, sometimes 6-7 days a week on [trying to] maintain this for a while. It is pretty daunting, frustrating, and mentally taxing but does have its moments when it is all worth it. Now, I haven't had one of those in a while, so I think I'm in a funk right now, but I'll save that for the topic of another post.