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Research Writer Interview With Lavender

Writing Successful Grants in the Language of Ph.D.-Level Academia


I'm 28 years old, and my greatest professional achievement has been getting my Ph.D degree (in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences). My greatest personal achievement has been a conscious choice to deviate from that path. The election to do so marked the peak of my adult decision-making to date, but that story begins a few decades prior.


I was born to immigrant parents who taught me that the key to a good future was financial stability, and the key to financial stability was education. My life was mapped out for me before I could even write: I was to excel in high school, earn a full scholarship and study mathematics, thus earning me another full ride to become a Doctor of Philosophy. The job market would then throw itself at my feet, or so I was told.


I did it, because I loved my parents, but I rebelled in every way that I could. I had to finish my homework (and do well on it) before I could see my friends, so I got really, really good at writing quickly and accurately. I wanted to study art (but my parents said "math") so I doubled majored in both. I wanted to make them proud, so I went to graduate school on that famed full scholarship.


Graduate school was a trial by fire. When it came to learning, mastery of a subject wasn't some faraway goal; it was the norm. To keep up, I taught myself how to program in R and MATLAB. If I couldn't do it, I'd have no experiments to run, and I'd fail.


I taught myself how to write successful grants, because if I couldn't do it, I'd have no extra funding, and my advisor would get rid of me. Making more mistakes than I could count, I learned the language of academia, the cadence of technical sentences, and the way a scientist organizes her thoughts.


I taught myself that long term goals like a 300-page dissertation or a multi-year technical project do not always have delineated deadlines, and the day-to-day slow work is a small but important cog within the final, grand submission. I let myself feel the pain and panic of procrastination and vowed to never let things get to that point again. I wove all the fibers of my experiences into the integrity of my work, and I hold that standard to this day.


I taught myself how to teach others. The first time a classroom full of undergraduates gave me their attention, I couldn't believe that the university would send me in without ever having taught a class in my life. I learned that the long hours working with others paid off exponentially when a student sends a heartfelt thank you and lets you know that she's one step closer to her dream career thanks to you.


I coordinated international team efforts to write and publish several papers. I performed research in various unrelated fields from fatigue models for the Air Force Research Lab to social economic games in Pennsylvania State University. I have six years of graduate experience as a student, mentor, researcher, and lab manager. I have written my own dissertation so I know the work and formatting that goes into such a long project. For these reasons, I believe that I'd be a good fit for your team of writers.



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