When I arrived home last night, I discovered that I'd received a letter from the state's Department of Higher Education. They've decided to fund my grant proposal. It'll mean $625 from the state and $625 from my university with which to pay myself for my work next semester, $1,000 for supplies, and $250 towards travel to a conference. I suppose that I really ought to be thrilled, but I'm feeling a bit ambivalent.
I've been the recipient of taxpayer's largess time and again. My family has never been on any form of welfare, but I may have gotten more money from the government these past few years than some people who are. In addition to whatever the state provides to my public university, they've given me $40,000 for school. My state decided to solve its brain drain problem by offering huge scholarships to students with top test scores, and for the past three years that scholarship covered most of my college costs. This year I've deferred it and am spending money from a different fellowship so I can use the state scholarship to pay most of my tuition for a masters in teaching if I decide to go that route.
If you're wondering what your federal income tax pays for, it may well have gone toward paying me to shoot proteins with a laser last summer. (Ok, so the research is a wee bit more complicated than that, but I doubt any of you want to read the details.) It's great that our country continues to fund basic research, but I feel weird about being the person getting funds.
I like my work, but I don't think it's going to change the world. At best, I'm hoping I might get to be co-author on a paper if we ever get to the point where we have anything publishable. To be perfectly candid, the money for supplies is fantastic, but I've got to get to work and try to get enough data to write a solid honors thesis and would be doing the research whether I get paid or not. It doesn't seem like my research is meaningful enough to get funding. Maybe it's a case of the Impostor Syndrome?