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Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 1:10 pm
by TF
My program really presses students to apply for predoctoral fellowships, either something from NIH or another funding agency (such as the American Heart Association for example). Are these that important to get? Do they help to have one when applying for post-docs? If it is something that's impressive to have, is it only viewed as such in academia, or would industry positions find it to be positive? How about non-bench positions?

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:21 pm
by Carlysle Tancha
TF,

From my experience, it may look good on your CV, but getting that funding fellowship as a predoc is not all that some may make it out to be. When we had our "career" events from last year, many PIs said that people will have plenty of time to get grants and apply for them as post-docs. I think that we are pretty much in the same boat in terms of graduation... my advice? Just do your work and get the degree ASAP--then, if you are really wanting to stay in research, start applying for funding once the post-doc has been set up.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:36 pm
by Doug
Predoc fellowships are important, especially early in your graduate career. If you obtain funding as an undergrad (wduring the grad school application process), you can pretty much write your own ticket as to where you want to go. They also 1) teach you to refine your thoughts in a very short space, 2) set you up for future awards later in your graduate career when you need more research (as opposed to stipend.tuition) money (i.e., NSF DDIG), and 3) provide you financial autonomy to a degree from advisors (this is a BIG deal in some departments...I've heard a few horror stories that only went away after the student obtained independent funding). In many places, they also provide a means of reducing TA workload, especially if it's a more generous NIH fellowship (although NSF's have gotten better recently). At institutions that don't guarantee funding to grad students, it's especially important. Once the post-doc level is reached, they should become less important than publications and contacts. With regard to non-academic positions, their biggest importance is that it shows a proven ability to write grants, develop budgets, and generate independent funding.

So yes, it seems they're important in many ways. I'm sure others will chime in on their importance in ways I've forgotten to mention.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:23 pm
by TF
Thanks for the replies!

In my brief time here many of the threads I have read dealt only with the publication aspect of being a grad student with respect to getting a job or being productive in general. But there are other things one can do which seem may be very positive if you aren't lucky enough to publish in the best journals. I thought since I haven't seen anything on this topic, I would bring it up. Especially for grad students earlier in their career who may be reading this and trying to determine if all the time and effort are worth it.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:26 am
by Madison
Yes they are very important.
Working on a grant application early in your grad career will help you define your project very cohesively, in a way that will help you get it done, and on time. You will also learn a lot working with your advisor on this project. Your advisor will be able to teach you about grantsmanship in a very real sense, and this will carry over to when you write up your papers for publication, your thesis, applications for postdoc fellowships, etc. Your science writing will also improve enormouslly through the process of writing and revision that is required to submit a grant.

If you're going for an academic career, you will also start your independent funding track record. When I sent out CVs for my job search I included a section on grant funding, and I listed my predoc fellowship, postdoc fellowships, career transition award, and the priority scores that each grant application had received from the study section. This shows that you are ready to move on to the next phase and apply for the RO1.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:44 am
by TF
That's an interesting point. Should I as a grad student applying for post doc and non-post doc positions actually supply the priority score? At the school I am at, I did quite well, and am one of the few people who got NIH funding on the first submission.

As of right now my CV has the fellowship, the fellowship name (NRSA), and the grant number listed, but not the priority score, should I add it?

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:45 pm
by Madison
This is just my opinion....

If it's very good, like less than 150, put it on. Otherwise leave it off.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:49 pm
by TF
Hmm, ok, thank you! I have never heard of putting scores on a cv, but I guess if it speaks of you in a positive light, then it shouldn't hurt.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:57 pm
by Emil Chuck
Actually, I think it helps but it should never break your position or standing if you get (or don't get) a predoc fellowship. The only way it helps is that it essentially guarantees you your slot in your lab since your advisor doesn't have to pay for you.

I didn't get predoc fellowships when I was a graduate student because I was "shifting fields" from undergrad to grad school. At any rate, I worked hard, tried to do good science, get noticed, get published, and then went for postdoctoral fellowships. I got two fellowships (had to pick one), and wound up expediting my graduation because of it.

As much as I would like to put down my NRSA/Kirchstein priority score, I would rather leave that information off your CV. The fact you got funded should be more important than your score; besides, it would be more useful to know your percentile and the funding percentile anyway. Besides your score will widely vary based on the pool of applicants during any cycle. You may be triaged or funded simply because of that.

Predoctoral fellowships

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:23 pm
by TF
Emil,

I agree with you in that not getting any sort of funding shouldn't prevent you from going places. It is merely a bonus in my view. However, just like publishing in a a top journal there are sometimes weird and unfair circumstances behind getting or not getting funded.

Unfortunately in my situation the branch I got funded from doesn't give out the percentile score, but I suspect my score is pretty decent. In any event, I do wish I knew what my percentile was, all I have is a number and I have no real idea how that relates to everyone else who was scored with me.