On being the broader impact

I'm writing a proposal.

This, is not actual news.  It is part of everyday academic life.  We chase money.  I'm a bit ambivalent about the proposal writing thing.  Some faculty members hate it; it's putting a price on science! Some faculty members love it; they are mostly the ones that are good at it.  I'm in the middle, to me it's just a necessary step on the way to doing the fun stuff.  Science costs money, therefore I must find money.

Proposal writing, in general, isn't really my point today.  I want to talk about a specific, rather modern aspect of proposal writing.  The "broader impacts".  It's been talked about before by those more experienced than me (just search broader impacts there and you'll get an array of results).  Today, I'm contemplating this exact issue.  Whether we like or not, whether we agree with it or not, by definition every women in science is a broader impact.  We can choose to include it explicitly in our proposals, or we can choose to ignore it.  On my own I'd opt for the latter. Today, I'm not writing a proposal on my own.  It's a collaborative project between 5 people. For tenured men and me.  The lastest draft includes a little subsection entitled Underrepresented Groups.  Not out of the normal in the context of BI in proposals.  But there it was: "Dr. Rini is a female junior tenure track scientist."

In the end it is what it is, and there isn't anything drastic I can do to change it.  In the grand scheme of proposal writing, we argue about the science, the objectives, the budgets.  We never once talk about this particular sentence.   But here is my feeling, as a women, as a scientist:

I hate being a broader impact.  I'd like to have a broader impact.  But, I don't want to be a broader impact. 


Here we go again...

It is the eve of a new semester. Overnight the 5 mile radius in which I live my life grows in population by about 25,000 people.  Life goes from a peaceful calm to a vibrant buzz.  There is more traffic, more people, more chaos, more responsibilities, more interruptions and, well, everything.  Some good, some bad.

This is the 17th fall semester I have started.  First as a student, then as a grad student, then a post-doc, then a professor.  August, is my New Year's Eve.  For me it marks the passage of time.  Each and every August, I get the same mix of feelings.  It's equal parts excitement and nervousness with a dash of  nostalgia thrown in for good measure.

The new year always gives me pause, to reflect on the past and plan for the future. It's like a mini re-invention of myself.  I get to decide what worked in the past and how to make it continue to work. More importantly, I get to decide what didn't work in the past, and how to make that better. 

This year, I was lucky.  I only spent three weeks of the summer on travel, compared to an average of 8.  I didn't move.  That's happened 10 of the last 16 summer's and it's one summer tradition I'm happy to leave behind!  So, consequently, this summer was relatively productive - not as productive as I had wanted- but better than years past.  I've started to find my groove and now that I have it, I don't want to loose it.  So I've set myself a goal for this year - protect my time.  So this is the year I learn to say no.  This, I realize is one of the most important lessons/skills an assistant professor can learn/aquire.  It's also one of the hardest to maintain. So, it's my mantra for the next nine months. 

This is, of course, why I'm sitting in a hotel room, 4 hours from home, prepping to give a seminar in the morning.  All of which was determined at 3 o'clock on Friday afternoon.  Because there's some things you just can't say no to. 


A year in review

Well, has it really been over a year since I published a post?  Talk about the death of a blog, or as I like to think of it, the birth of a very busy and happy life.  I'm not sure if I am going to keep up the blog or not.  I'm just finished with a week of vacation, so I'm feeling relaxed, but it does take time to compose the posts and I just find that I want to spend my time differently.  I'm also not reading blogs as often as I used to, so I'm less inspired to post then I have been.

Despite that, I've done about a million things worthy of posting.  So here it is a year in review.

We bought a new (3rd) house - crazy I know, but this one is home - finally!

New house = lot's of crafts, many inspired by pinterest.
This stuff...

...became this lamp (we painted the table too, and the coasters are from here)
New house = lot's of weekends spent furniture shopping.

my favorite is this dining room set we put together from 3 different antique stores.

New house = my own sewing/craft room =  a wintertime flurry of sewing bags and pouches (and pillows and curtains).
Tote bags - pattern made up based on the classic LLBean boat and tote.

Pillows for our couch.
 I might have gone a little mad with the triangle pouches based on this tutorial.

I started (and completed) my 2nd full year at the new university.

2nd year of job = full teaching load, hosting a visiting scholar, serving on a search committee, becoming faculty adviser of a club sport, and just a general a flurry of activity.  No pictures of this, but it was busy and fun, with a touch of stress sprinkling the whole thing.

I started running.  I did the couch to 5k plan, which in my case took ~16 weeks and only got me to a very slow 2k.  My goal is to run our University's Family Weekend 5k Fun Run at the end of September.  It's been averaging 100 degrees here, so "training" is slow going.
I do like the nike+ thing on my ipod nano.

I knit a little bit here and there.
Monarch Shawl

Pillar Socks


Making Waves

I bought a new camera, hence the ability to run around and take pictures this morning. So far I'm really happy with it. 

I went to the Olympics. No, seriously, I was there to see preliminary rounds of beach volleyball, boxing, field hockey, basketball, indoor volleyball, and weighlifting, thanks to a very awesome best friend who scored tickets over a year ago.  This was phenomenal and worthy of a whole post or more. Maybe once I sort through the 600+ pictures I took with the new camera that will happen.
The orbit at night

I'm taking a few more days of a staycation/writing retreat to counter the big burnout I was feeling before I left.

We start a new semester in two weeks. I'm thinking about putting in my tenure files at the end of this academic year, so it may be another year before I post again :)