January 8, 2019
Catrina Sims-Robinson, Ph.D., is currently an assistant professor of neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina. Sims-Robinson was a postdoctoral fellow and research investigator for the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery from 2008-14. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, featured her in its “Success Stories” series.
Embracing Opportunities for Growth to Become a Better Scientist
After obtaining my Ph.D., I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. While I was successful at obtaining training grant awards, my grant applications for individual fellowship awards were not successful. I transitioned into a junior faculty position at the University of Michigan and began my journey to funding. My postdoctoral mentor informed me about the NINDS diversity faculty K01 award. My first K01 submission was ‘Not Discussed’ and I was completely discouraged. Another faculty member told me, “I don’t want to discourage you, but it is nearly impossible for an application to go from Not Discussed to Funded”.
I had to remember that criticism was my opportunity to improve. This was the first time I realized that to be successful, I had to evolve my way of thinking, re-evaluate my plans, take advantage of available resources, and be resilient. I therefore talked with my program officer, worked with my university to assemble a panel of faculty members who would provide an internal review of my resubmission, attended a grant writing workshop, and participated in the NINDS sponsored Grant Writing Workshop for Diverse Researchers.