Marie Curie Global Fellowship
Marie Curie Fellowships are an Individual Fellowship which lasts for 2 to 3 years. Broadly speaking there are 3 types of Marie Curie Fellowship. i) Attracting the best and brightest to the EU, ii) keeping talent within the EU or iii) sending you away for up to 2 years to a country outside the EU then bringing you back for a year to transfer what you have learned during your time away. The latter, the Global Fellowship Program is the one that stood out to me to permit the best training opportunity (and escape the UK winter for a few years).
I first applied in 2013, and was rejected, then again with a similar but slightly beefed up application in 2014. Again this was rejected albeit with a much improved score. I continued honing in my ideas and listed to the feedback given. My third and final application was successful and included some more lofty scientific goals. This seems to get the buy in of the reviewers with a score of 93/100. So we packed up our bags and moved to California for 2 years,
Having your own funding for 3 years gives you a lot of freedom in choosing the things you are going to work on. To be honest, if the funding had been awarded in the previous 2 attempts, I'm not sure if the freedom would have been of such benefit. At this stage of my career however, I really exercised this freedom. Starting new collaborations, saying no to the things I didn't want to do and diving head first into the things I did.
I was like going back to the beginning of a PhD with year of training and thinking under my belt. First I went to get some more funding to build equipment, then I designed and built equipment I had only dreamed of before - the High Throughput PLD equipment (see the post).
This accelerated the project progress and the hosts invited me to be involved in many other projects. Almost acting as a free agent (and for them a free pair of hands), it was possible to ad value to a variety on ongoing and new projects.
Whilst away, we had our second son and on our return to the UK our third. The funding agency are very helpful in giving young researchers the time the required for parental leave and I could not have asked for a better experience.