It ain't over 'til it's over
by Jean-Olivier Irisson, Claire Paris, on
This project should have been over for a while now but, as the title of this post (and Lenny Kravitz) says, things are never really over. Thanks to careful spending (and a few cancellations…) we actually had funds remaining on the US side. And thanks to the open minds and great support of the PUF project managers, we are allowed to use them, as per a second no-cost extension of the project!
We would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank the managing officers of the PUF program. The financial support of the PUF has been extremely useful and, almost as importantly, enjoyable to use.
The project started late because it took forever to sign the contracts thanks to the heaviness and slowness of the administrative systems of both universities. This was almost painless for the project itself because we were easily granted a no-cost extension every year, to account for the delay in the activities of the project.
On the research side, when the shipping company vastly underestimated the cost of shipping ISIIS to France and we had to reallocate funds in the first year to cover part of these expenses, they understood it was out of our hands and supported us. When we lost a DISC instrument at sea during the second year and had to quickly turn around and order another one with funds that were supposed to be dedicated to a sound recording system (and therefore postpone that part of the project), they accepted that this decision was making the best out of a bad situation. Finally, when we shifted focus from the influence of sound on the orientation of fish larvae to the observation of their orientation at night, because given the evolution of the field in the ~3 years since we wrote the initial proposal, this seemed like a more topical question, they trusted our decision.
On the educational side also, things changed quite a bit along the course of the project. The number of French students ready to leave for a second year of Masters was less than we expected, so we opened this opportunity to first year students. The number of US students who wanted to travel to France to take a multivariate statistics class was more than we could handle, so we had the professors travel to the US instead. In all cases, we accounted for these changes in the yearly reports, explained them and they were understood.
In an era when most funding agencies almost require you to get three quotes and a PO to buy a pencil, working with project managers who understand the inherent uncertainty associated with doing something new, be it in research or education, who are supportive and understanding, is extremely refreshing. And in the end, science wins, because we, as researchers and professors, can focus on advancing the field, on building new things, on creating new ways to train students instead of becoming accountants and form-fillers. So, once again, we thank the PUF very, very much for their support and we hope we made the best out of it.