Sometimes this happens repeatedly.
You are writers, you know what I mean.
The first time I applied for funding to collect data in Africa was in 1999. At the time I'd spent a couple of years researching this beauty, the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata).
My research was on the insects that flock to the tree (which often serves as an oasis in arid regions) and then in turn how those insects influence human populations, whether through the mosquitos that breed in the water that stand in hollows of the tree, the cotton stainers that breed here and then ruin crops, or the honey they get from bees nesting there. (photo credit)
You may know the baobab better from The Little Prince.
I applied two years in a row, but I didn't get the funding.
I did eventually get funding to travel to St Croix to collect insects around the baobabs there, which was amazing... but it wasn't Africa.
Fast-forward ten or so years. I'm working on different research (about how people make decisions about their natural resources) and start applying for funding to collect data in Kenya.
I applied in 2009, and did not get it.
I applied in 2010, and did not get it-- but was encouraged strongly by the funders to apply again.
I applied in 2011, and did not get it.
I applied in 2012, and... did not get it.
I thought to myself, this is not meant to be.
I thought, why am I working so hard to get this funding-- isn't the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over, but expect different results?
But then, other sources of funding that on their own were not nearly enough, started to come together.
I have been working with a student who applied for summer research support. The grant fully supports the student for the summer and gives a little bit of money to the faculty advisor. She got the grant (she's AWESOME, and ALSO got funds through a different grant to go to Kenya) and I got a little bit of faculty support.
The Dean offers small grants for research, I applied and got it.
The other researchers planning the trip got a large grant, and offered to pay some of my way.
And despite failing at getting the big grant (as recently as this year)... I am going to Kenya. I will travel for two weeks at the end of June/beginning of July. I'm so excited about it that it does not feel real. Though, when I go in for shots at the Travel Clinic this afternoon it may start to feel real.
And Lord help me if I see a REAL Baobab, in REAL LIFE, in AFRICA, because I just might lose it.