Twas the night before tenure, and as I lay in bed
Visions of failure danced in my head.
Reflecting back over the past 6 years,
I remembered the challenges, thrills, and fears.
Returning to clinical practice, for one,
After years of just getting my gels to run
And putting the EM and AFM to action
Looking for oligomers in FFF fractions;
Now it was back to taking patient histories
And trying to solve their clinical mysteries.
The hospital was a maze but I was on my feet soon,
Although I did get lost in the emergency room…
Neither my office or house had internet or phone
To submit my first grant, I sat all alone
At night in my car in the cold so I
Could use my laptop and the Good Earth’s WiFi.
Because of my chosen research vocation,
My lab and office were in an invisible location.
“Environmental Engineering?” asked Med IT…
“Yes, the Centre for Prions, that’s me”…
“I don’t think we support you way over there.”
That’s reassuring… Nice to know people care…
But, grants were funded, at least at first,
And I figured I had seen the worst.
Little did I know that was just the start;
Tenure track’s not for the faint of heart.
Building completion was stuck in a rut,
Construction crews didn’t know who was supposed to do what.
Then biosafety approval was an epic tale
That moved along at the pace of a snail.
Our prion protocols were much too lax
Even though prions really are different from anthrax…
To facilitate any equipment for removal,
We required biosafety office approval
And despite our attempts at prion education,
We wound up with a VHP station.
There were rejections and judgements, demands and stress,
And expectations mounted with no guarantee of success.
Paperwork, signatures, deadlines and such,
Publish or perish, but what is enough?
So, lying in bed on the eve of my fate
I considered the toll that this lifestyle must take.
What if that banging my head against the wall
Has induced a tauopathy, oh the irony of it all,
Or what if Abeta has made an appearance,
And my stressed out lack of sleep is preventing its clearance?
But then there’s the people that make it worthwhile,
There’s the thrill of new data that makes us all smile.
My colleagues and students, we must support each other,
For that is what gives us the chance to discover
Something novel or profound, a brand new insight
One that may prove our hypothesis right.
We are explorers on a stormy sea.
It takes patience and strength and creativity
To find our way onto new shores, just so
That all of humanity’s knowledge can grow.
So, bring on the papers and deadlines and grants
And no talk of despair and long poetic rants
(That’ll have to wait for my music career)
For now here’s to research and a happy new year!