Very little is known about the lifespan and reproductive biology of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, after which this blog is named. They can live to be at least 20 years old, however, and so one can assume that to dispatch one at six years old is to cut it off in its prime. Yet haul this one on to deck and administer a hefty blow from an oversized fisherman's priest we must. After years of kind support from first Nature Network, and then from scilogs.com, the plug is being pulled.
It is widely acknowledged that a to pursue a successful career in science requires the hide of a rhino (or, as I put it in my first ever post, the skin of a sunfish…). Receiving, giving, responding to, and gossiping about criticism are such an integral part of the job, that to take such things personally is a recipe for misery. Over the years I think I have got better at reading criticism of my own work at one step removed, and - although of course I swear as much as anyone at idiot reviewers who cannot seem to appreciate my genius - it takes me fewer deep breaths now before I can knuckle down to the task of patiently and politely pointing out the error of their ways. But it turns out I do have an Achilles’ heel.
One of my colleagues has just been awarded a huge grant from the European Research Council. In the last decade or so, my department has been extremely successful in this scheme, which rewards top individual researchers. And Sheffield as a whole is an ERC powerhouse - in a 2013 report, the University - with 25 ERC grants funded - ranked joint 33rd in Europe as institution (table on p58 of this pdf). Seven UK institutions ranked higher, a further 15 had more than 10 grants funded, and to date the UK has received 50% more grants through this scheme than any other single country.