Longtime CTSI Grant Writing Mentor to Retire
Mary Lou King, Ph.D., professor emeritus
Remember what it was like writing your first grant? So much depended on it getting funded.
I was lucky as someone who knew how to write well, read my grant before I submitted it. They showed me some basic errors that I was making in organization and wording that would leave reviewers confused.
Today, writing a competitive grant is increasingly more difficult. Our faculty have good ideas that are fundable. But our junior colleagues can be seriously handicapped by not knowing how granting agencies and study sections REALLY work. For many, how the “game” is played remains a mystery, although it is essential to their good ideas seeing the light of day.
That is where you can make a real difference by providing meaningful feedback on their grants prior to submission. Interestingly, doing grant “diagnoses really improved my own writing.
CTSI and the Provost’s office have developed programs for grant mentoring. I was honored to be part of their programs providing workshops and one on one mentoring to all who requested help. The personnel in the CTSI office are wonderful to work with and together, provide the best run platform for facilitating any mentoring that you may choose to do. I will miss working with them as I move into full retirement from UM.
Why did I find mentoring so rewarding?
The truth is that, with few exceptions, individual research programs can impact only a very small arena of science.
Single research programs are inherently limited. Now imagine making an impact in fields as far ranging as bioengineering for drug testing, coral reef preservation, a “green” form of cement for construction, setting up resilient day care centers during disasters like COVID, providing early detection for glaucoma and much more. These are grants that I have worked on from colleagues on all three campuses.
The experience of being involved in a larger enterprise than just my own research program was deeply satisfying to me.
The expressions of heartfelt gratitude from graduate students to senior faculty when their grants are funded is unforgettable.
Which leads me to another wonderful aspect of mentoring. You get to know your colleagues from all parts of the University. They are interesting people doing interesting things. To walk across campuses and have people stop you and just glow with how much they got out of a workshop or one-on-one mentoring… just how much they appreciated any guidance that I had given them, was heart-warming.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Consider helping your colleagues with an essential function in their professional lives. It is work I found very much worth doing.
Mary Lou King, Ph.D.