Tuesday, September 14, 2010
It's been one of those
kind of days. A morning taken up by a dissertation oral defense and an afternoon reviewing an NSF grant proposal.
Not that either of those things are in and of themselves bad. I generally enjoy the thrust-and-parry nature of the scientific discourse at a defense. And reviewing a good proposal is a joy. However...
Some things just make for a grumpy Odyssey.
1) Graduate students who reach the oral defense part of their dissertation journey and don't understand significant figures
Really? You got a measurement of 1057.237 with an error of +/-3? You sure about that? You're upset I'm giving you a hard time about this? It's not like we hadn't talked about this at your last two committee meetings. And I don't give a rat's arse that the software you use spits out that many decimal places. The software can't improve the precision of the data you feed into it.
2) Mentors who can't keep their mouths shut during an oral defense.
Honestly, if you'd opened your mouth to answer a question directed at your student one more time I would have shoved my copy of the dissertation so far down your throat you'd be constipated for a year. You have your PhD. Shut up and let your student earn theirs.*
3) PI's who write an NSF proposal and completely ignore the Broader Impacts.
Did you read the instructions? At all? It's very, very clear that the BI's are considered a major part of the proposal.** Reviewers (and panels) are specifically instructed to not give proposals lacking decent BI's fundable scores. Why do I care about you leaving the BI's out? Because you're proposing some kick-arse science. Really, really kick-arse. All you needed was the barest minimum BI's and the check would be in the mail. But no, you're too lazy and/or up yourself to do that. Or you're an ignoramus. Take your pick.
I leave you with this, which doesn't make me grumpy.
* They both did.
** Whether you like it or not, BI's are an absolute requirement to get NSF funding.