List: Why I’m Great, by Dave Semeniuk -or- It’s the money-begging time of the year

Science graduate students unfortunate enough to have previously been denied governmental funding (including yours truly, for reasons both within and out of my control), newby grad students, and ambitious undergraduates looking for a sweet academic ride are currently writing up a storm for NSERC – the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

You see, if you can impress the right people with excellent grades, prestigious academic awards, and a little something called “communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills”, NSERC will throw between $36-100,000 at you over a 2-4 year period to do science.

Pretty sweet, right?  This typically means you will get paid slightly more a year than your unfunded lab mates and you won’t have to TA 3-12 hours a week to supplement your supervisor’s funding.  I always thought it was funny how the students that didn’t make the cut ended up teaching and mentoring future grad students.

Anyway, part of the NSERC proposal requires you to complete a personal statement of sorts.  Basically, it’s your chance to brag about how awesome you are, how awesome your research skills are, and why, even though you’ve spent 3 years doing research and haven’t published a paper yet (dammit, they’re under review, get off my back!), you’re still awesome enough to be paid ten’s of thousands of dollars to work for the Canadian People.

I have to admit, I think I’m pretty fucking awesome.  Honest.  My neighbours do too.  But even we (my neighbours and I) are having trouble writing me up to the big, bad, scary funding agency.  So, to work my way into this exercise of academic narcissism, I’ve decided to put together a list of reasons why I’m great that have nothing do to with ivory or towers or seawater:

  • I have a nice beard.  It’s has a nice texture, and is usually well groomed.   Although the moustache and chin hair don’t perfectly meet, I still think it has a nice shape.
  • My teeth are very clean.  I went to the dentist last week.
  • I can juggle two balls in one hand, and three balls in two hands, but not 4 balls in two hands.  I don’t like to show off.
  • I’ve kept the same umbrella for almost two years – a feat in Vancouver.
  • Even when people call me a pretentious hack, I take the high road.
  • I’ve memorized the times tables up to 12.  You’d be surprised how many people haven’t done this.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: