What kinds of proposals get funded? What do the PIs do well in their proposals?

In the most competitive situations, successful proposals tend to make three important arguments:

  • An argument for the intellectual merit of the proposal
  • An argument for the need for the resources provided in order for the project to succeed
  • An argument for the (relatively unique) opportunity that the PI/team has to address the need

These are, in order of importance, steps along the path from making the cut to making it above the pay line in grant competitions. What do I mean by that?

Most proposal…

A trussed and wrapped salmon roll sits on a cutting board alongside some kitchen shears and butcher’s twine
A trussed and wrapped salmon roll sits on a cutting board alongside some kitchen shears and butcher’s twine


1 filet of salmon, about 1–1.5lb, perhaps 6” by 4”


1 can of lump crab meat, drained

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs mayo

1 Tbs minced shallot (one small one)

1/3C panko

1 tsp capers

Old Bay, Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper for seasoning


Butchers twine

Plastic wrap

Preparing the Roulade

1. Mix up the stuffing ingredients in a bowl

2. Book slice the salmon filet. Skin the salmon if it has come with skin on. Place the filet with the skinned side down. With a sharp filet knife, work from the center line outwards and stopping about 1 inch…

Or to be a cephalopod

and go with unduluous

connection instead of

swinging levers to step

in tick-tock, bipedal, motion.

The notion flashes

over my consciousness

like chromatic waves across

a cuttlefish. Integumentary

invention exceeds my grasp,

alas, feet opposite head,

limbs, distal, canted, shuffling


Masks are medicine.

Can we talk about that?

Most medicines we take work by blocking something. Drugs that do this are called “inhibitors.” What they inhibit are processes that have negative effects like an allergic reaction (histamine cascade). Some drugs can slow or stop a virus from reproducing.

Inhibitors can work in different ways, but the most basic way is to act as a physical barrier, preventing something from entering or attaching to a place in the body. Masks do this mechanically. By putting a physical barrier between the virus and the body it needs to enter to reproduce itself…

Road Marker — Image by David Siebold

It is the end of May, 2020. The United States is confronting a grim future and a brutal past simultaneously. It feels like a culmination of something, and also like a repeat. I want to give it a name here to set a boundary, to describe a limit with the hope of marking an end of an era. Let’s call it the Era of Bad Faith.

In 1920, a name for the previous half-century or so in America began to coalesce: The Gilded Age. That time spanning post-civil war reconstruction created immense wealth as the United States built a rail…

Four delicious biscuits cool on a wire rack in the morning sunlight
Four delicious biscuits cool on a wire rack in the morning sunlight

This scaled-down recipe makes four biscuits. It uses a scone trick — namely an egg for added structure in the dough — to make up for the smaller amount of flour to work with. Biscuits are all about mixing. So be gentle.


1 C. flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

1Tbs sugar


½ stick of butter, cold

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbs half-n-half


1) Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

2) Sift dry ingredients together in a medium bowl

3) Dice butter finely and cut into dry mix with a pastry blender until…

The sudden shift to remote teaching and learning in higher education and, in many states, in K-12 schools too, seems likely to be a watershed moment. It calls for us to invent an approach to learning that is more resistant to disruption, more resilient.

To be clear, this is work that lies ahead of us. It is not something most of us are doing presently. The work we are up to now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on schools, is more like what my colleague Steve Krause has called “lifeboat teaching.” We are getting by. …

A message from Bill Hart-Davidson

This is a note of thanks and solidarity to our colleagues and friends, from me, Bill H-D, one of Eli Review’s founders. As a company, we find ourselves in the odd position to be helpful in a time of international crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. But we also want to be clear: this is not a moment to be opportunistic.

I’m writing here with a message that I think is going to be useful in the coming days about a key challenge in teaching remotely. This is something that is so powerfully associated with learning in…

It is March.
The Ides approach, and
I am raking leaves.
It is work that needs doing.

Leathery oak leaves,
wet and matted maple
lay where they fell, late.
Snow in October
fell dazzling on
the saturated palette of Autumn.

Each morning I pass a sign,
askew now from the spray of snowplows.
Faded letters read ‘Fall Cleanup’
with a number that nobody had
a chance to call.

I line up rows of leaves blown against the fence dragging them to the edge of the driveway tarmac. Each pass reveals fresh Earth. The smell of Spring clashes with the work…

A bike path at sunrise. The sun shines through trees making a beautiful contrast between light and dark.
A bike path at sunrise. The sun shines through trees making a beautiful contrast between light and dark.
a path at sunrise

Grace* is unearned. Down deep, grace recognizes that human beings are flawed and that they can change, can learn.

I am not a religious person. I don’t have a coherent story about where grace comes from like some others do. I don’t fault anyone for having such a story or personifying this powerful sensation though, because it is a mystery to me how we find grace. Some people do, some don’t. But to those of us who manage to find grace, it is truly revelatory.

For me, finding grace goes something like this. There are some people who, at some…

Bill Hart-Davidson

Hyphenated, father, academic, juggler, cyclist, cook. Philosophy of life: give.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store