Monday, June 4, 2012

BIG News

Sometimes you work hard for something... and fail.

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.

(image credit)

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.


  1. Congrats!! Sounds like the trip of a lifetime for you!

  2. Grats girl! Can't wait to hear about your trip.

  3. That is awesome! Congrats and kudos for not giving up. I hope you see tons of baobabs. :)

  4. Now THIS is news to balance out a dreary Monday! I'm excited for you. :)

  5. WOW, Kat!! HUGE congrats to you!!

  6. That is fantastic! Congratulations! :)

  7. That's so cool! Congratulations!!

  8. Congratulations Kat, that’s fantastic news.

  9. Congratulations! So cool the way it worked out--seems like it was meant to be. And that tree in the picture is awesome :)

  10. This is great news! Enjoy your trip! It certainly sounds like the trip of a lifetime. And I'm glad you mentioned The Little Prince. Anytime I hear about a baobab tree I think of that wonderful story!


  11. Wow, that's awesome!!! As a fellow researcher I feel your funding pains!! I was in Kenya a few years ago for some volunteer will love it!

  12. Congratulations!!! What wonderful news. I can't wait to see the photos you'll take and hear about the trip.

  13. Congratulations! That is so fantastic, I sincerely hope you see your baobab!

    Also, I saw the photograph and thought... The Little Prince? (:

  14. Ahhhhh! Congrats! What an amazing opportunity AND dream come true! I'm so happy for you. Really. It's a story of perseverance and NEVER GIVING UP!!! I hope you'll be able to blog from Kenya!

  15. Thanks guys for all the lovely comments. They make my heart sing!

    Yes Jennifer- trip of a lifetime- I think it's going to blow my mind.

    Thank you Eliza!

    Me too, Rebecca-- I'm going to be that annoying person on the trip, always asking to stop at the baobabs we pass. :0)

    Thanks Carolyn- anything to beat a Monday.

    Thanks so much Holly, Jaime, Ghenet and Adrian!!

    Rachel, I feel like this is the right time to go.

    I know, Jen, me too! TLP is great!

    Thank you Alicia!

    Right, Lo- it's a constant battle, isn't it?

    Thanks Connie- I hope to have time to take photos.

    Glenna- I've missed you! Hope that first year of college was AMAZING. Thanks for your kind words.

    Thank you Samantha-- so, so, true. I will have internet.. and really hope to blog. :0)

  16. This is amazing. And my favorite thing about it is the journey, that sometimes, when we go a different way, we get just where we want to be. Congratulations, lady! Good job.

  17. KAT! That is AWESOME! I'm so happy for you right now! Congratulations!! I hope your trip is amazing and everything you need it to be. And, above all, HAVE FUN!!

  18. Oh my goodness, CONGRATS KAT!!!!! THIS IS SO EXCITING!! You will have to share a bazillion pictures when you return. :D EEE! I am so, so happy for you!

  19. Christa-- thanks so much. So true what you say about the journey. We always try to "make" it become something... we should hold back and see what is in store for us if we don't try to force it.

    YAY Meredith-- thanks so much. I am sure it will be fun, hard, exciting, stressful and awesome. :0)

    YAY thanks Sooz! I hope I can take lots of great photos. We won't be doing the game park thing (I wish) but I am hoping to see some BIG BUGS. :0)

  20. Congratulations! Persistence pays off. I'm so proud of you. :) And honored to know someone who clearly doesn't give up.

  21. Congrats! That's such wonderful news. After all your work and the number of times you've applied, I think it's pretty clear you deserve this. I hope you get to see a real Baobab. I've always wanted to because of Le Petit Prince. Have SO MUCH FUN!!

  22. Congratulations! That is so exciting! You're right, I only know the baobab from The Little Prince. How wonderful to see a real one in person!

  23. Aw, thank you Angela-- so kind of you to say.

    Tracey, I love that you said Le Petite Prince, because I had a french friend who would always say it that way when I mentioned the baobab-- it just sounds so beautiful.

    Deniz, thank you so much! I really, really hope I do see one up close. :0)

  24. Congratulations! So excited for you to go to Kenya and realize the dream!

  25. Congratulations and safe travels!

  26. Congratulations, KO! This is why you keep trying. I hope you have an amazing time.

  27. Thanks Susan!!

    Thank you Nina.

    Sophia- so bummed you've decided to hang up the blogger hat... but I totally understand. Thanks for the travel wishes. :0)

  28. Wow this is amazing! Persistence really does pay off. I hope you get to see your tree. :)

  29. This is such an inspiring story in in its own different little way.

    And YES the Baobab has personal meaning for me because the last play I ever performed was in a backyard production in Brooklyn and I starred as the Little Prince. It was so moving.

    Congratulations on all the funding!

  30. Thanks Elizabeth-- persistence is key. And I really, really hope so too.

    Awesome Sophia- isn't it a magnificent tree? Your play sounds beautiful-- backyard theater-- you can't beat that.


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