So I just got a rejection from the EPA-STAR fellowship.
I was pretty sure that I’d be rejected because of my proposal. See, I sent Dr. Hand-Waver a copy of my first draft a week before the deadline, and she told me that I’d have to completely re-cast it…because I was assuming something that most people would not accept. We talked briefly about how to put a different spin on the same material. She told me to re-write it and send it to her. And so, over the next week, I completely rewrote it. I kept maybe one paragraph from the first introduction, and my materials and methods changed considerably. 24 hours before the deadline, I sent it back to Dr. HW…who emailed me back to say that she was too busy to review it
So the research proposal I sent in to the EPA was completely unvetted by my advisor. I really, truly thought I t make some spectacular mistakes that Dr. HW would have caught. And so I thought that I would be rejected on the basis of my proposal alone.
But no. All three of the reviewers really liked my proposal. The only black mark against my proposed research: one reviewer said that it was too mechanistic. But I said up front, in the introduction, that the reason it was impossible to make advances in the remediation technology I proposed to study was that people did not understand the mechanisms involved…and that I wanted to elucidate the mechanisms so advances to the technology could be made. *sigh*
My review scores were 2 Goods and 1 Excellent. What did the “Good” people mark me down for? Quite simply: I have not “demonstrated a commitment to environmental research.” Reading between the lines of the detailed comments: I haven’t published anything environmentally related yet. Or held a position in an environmentally-related field. *sigh*
I would like to thank the reviewer who rated me Excellent. Not just because he/she gave me a good score, but because he/she included the following comment: “[UnlikelyGrad] can also serve as an example of how mothers can get back into the academic and research life after the child rearing years. This has societal impacts and benefits as well.”
Thank God someone recognizes that.