Field of Science

Manifestation of Prof Stress

The Spring semester has ended, which means something from a teaching perspective but not from a research perspective. At least that's true for me. I know others can vary in their teaching/research mileage. For me, teaching is basically a fall/spring semester concern. I do teach a couple of weeks during the summer, but this requires little prep work so I don't count it. Research is a year long venture, but does suffer during the fall/spring, especially the fall, because of my teaching duties. A couple of weeks ago on consecutive nights, I woke up around 2 am from bad dreams. These dreams, I won't say nightmares because they were stress inducing but not terrifying, related to these two big areas of my professional life.

The first night it was a research related dream and the focus was on grants, big surprise to people in the field I expect. The dream actually started out on a good note as I was just awarded an R21 grant from NIH! The happiness and relief of having some money to conduct the research I want to do, quickly transitioned to stress as I began thinking about how quickly I could get someone hired and trained to do the research successfully. I became increasingly stressed because the R21 is only a two year grant. If it takes 6 months to hire and get someone well trained (a stretch in my opinion), I basically have 6 more months before we need to be generating most of the data in order to write a larger grant. For those not in the know, it takes a few months to write a proposal (for me at least) and then ~ 9 months before funding decisions are made. Thus, in order to maintain constant funding from the onset of the R21, I basically have 12 months to get most of the work done with an untrained person. I woke up a mix of happiness combined with a whirlwind of stress. I was up about 2 hours before going back to sleep.

The second night it was a teaching related dream. In real life I had just completed final grades for my Spring semester course and was breathing a sigh of relief to have ~3 months to focus on experiments and writing (papers and grants). In my dream, I felt like I was in the same place and at work setting up experiments when I realized my Fall semester classes were starting in a couple hours and I hadn't set up the course website, planned any lectures, etc. I was running around trying to get together some slides for the introduction and to print off some worksheets for the students but couldn't find a printer. To make things worse I couldn't find out where my class was meeting and time was ticking down to the point where I was figuring out how late I would be. Basically this was my adult version of the 'just realizing you have a final in a class you didn't know you were enrolled in all semester' nightmare. Again up for a couple of hours without being able to sleep.

Haven't had anymore repeats of the stressmares™, but apparently my sleep schedule basically requires waking up at 2 am. I do get some reading done I guess, but would rather get a straight 7-8 hours of sleep. Stupid brain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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