Field of Science

Research direction and goals (pondering)

Depending on when I count from, I've spent the past twenty or thirty years trying to get people to think rigorously about whether bacteria have any processes that evolved to promote random recombination of chromosomal alleles or genes.

And I've largely failed at this.  A few people think my ideas are reasonable, but the great majority of microbiologists and evolutionary biologists continue to comfortably assume that genetic exchange happens in bacteria because it's an evolutionary good thing.  I'm still pretty sure they're wrong, but I think I've done almost all I can to change their minds.

I'm at a decision point.  The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has funded the bulk of my work, but recent proposals have failed and I don't have any compelling projects to propose.  The funding environment has moved on, leaving little support for 'pure' research, especially where others think your perspective is wrongheaded. So I don't think I'm going to submit a proposal, at least not this year.

I'm not going to stop doing research.  Nor am I going to shift from benchwork to bioinformatics, at least not yet and not all the way.  I have good research space and facilities, a small pure-science grant that will support my new grad student, and funds remaining in my previous CIHR grant that can probably be extended for another year.  And I have lots of projects, lots of questions I want to answer about H. influenzae competence.

So my tentative plan is to relax a bit (i.e. not write that damned CIHR proposal) and get back in the lab.  I'm also teaching two courses this term, so I certainly won't be slacking off, but I see no point in putting this extra pressure on myself yet again.

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