How to have a research career that matters, without getting lost in the "Dark Matter" of bureaucracy, funding or daily to-do's.

Are you having an impact AND having fun in your career?

Dr. Morgan Giddings

From the desk of Morgan Giddings, PhD

Dear Friend,


If you’re a researcher, I assume that you’re in it to have an impact... to make a difference, by making new discoveries, finding cures, and elucidating mechanisms.


You’re probably not in a research career for the sake of doing stuff like writing grant proposals, managing teams, managing collaborations, and so on. 


Yet these things are absolutely necessary if you want to be able to continue doing research for the long-haul.

How long did you train to be great at the research portion of your career?

To do the actual research - you’ve probably spent years (or maybe decades) learning essential skills like: study design, data analysis, literature review, and the concepts of your chosen field.


How long did you train to be great at the “Dark Matter”, like grant writing, that’s essential to support the ongoing research career?


By “Dark Matter” I mean all that other stuff... like the grant proposals, the management, the leadership, and the dealing-with-bureaucracy-and-politics. I also mean staying sane, balanced, and even happy while dealing with this stuff.


How much did you train in this? For most people, the answer is very little- especially compared to the amount of training invested in learning to do the actual research.


So, that leads to another question


Are the Dark Matter skills of grant writing, leadership, management, and etc trivially easy skills?


The way our system works, you’d think the answer is yes. Most of us spend 10-100X more time on learning the research skills and subject matter of our field, than we do things like writing great proposals.


Maybe that’s because it’s more fun for most of us to focus just on the research. Yet these skills that support the research are just as essential - if not more so - to having a research career that makes an impact


Most of us didn’t go into science to be that genius working in obscurity in the basement. Most of us want our work to matter, we want to find cures, solutions, and advance the knowledge base of the human species.


Working in obscurity rarely does this.


If we rationally break down a complex skill like persuasive grant writing - or leadership - these are things people in other areas of life go to school for years to learn, and then they often do internships on top of that.


And we treat them as trivial things that might be learned in a few day’s workshop ... or even in a semester-long class.

"This Is For Me!"

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That’s why so many researchers struggle to have the impact - and fun - they set out to have when starting... and instead feel mired down

I was thrust into a “management/marketer/leader” job when I started as an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill. They give you some start up funds (hopefully), some space (fingers crossed), and the keys to the door... and say “here you go, do a great job.” Oh yeah, and they usually tell you “You better apply for lots of grants and get some funding in if you want to stick around.” The lucky few even get to take a seminar or two on leadership and grant writing... and that’s supposed to be enough to help us run a lab?


I was overwhelmed. I struggled with repeated grant rejections. If there was a book written on “how to hire people that will cause problems” I would be cited as an expert. In the annals of manuscripts being stalled out, I would be the most highly cited.


I eventually figured out the grant thing... after years of rejections then a serious, intensive, multi-year intervention by a rare mentor who truly knew how to write an excellent proposal.


But even with funding flowing in, the problems with employees, manuscripts, management, and leadership continued.


Worse, my own morale had gone down the tubes. By the time I got tenure, I was so burnt out about it all that I didn’t really want tenure. I was kind of depressed that they hadn’t given me an excuse to go do something else....


The accumulating existential angst resulted in further difficulties with my collaborators and administration over various issues, such as space and funding. While I had a “guaranteed job for life” after getting tenure, it wasn’t a happy place to be.


* I wasn’t the only one. In late 2010, when I announced my resignation from UNC, one colleague came to me and said she was envious that I was brave enough to leave. She (and others) expressed deep dissatisfaction with their jobs, but were too stuck in the “golden handcuffs” of a stable job to do anything about it. That was a very saddening experience to come to understand that I was but one of a slew of relatively dissatisfied researchers.


Maybe you’re not as sad as that - I certainly hope so!


But unless you’re the rare unicorn-in-the-woods, I’m sure you’re impacted by the difficulties of dealing with all this stuff you probably weren’t trained to deal with.


Now, one approach is to try to figure this out all on your own, with a sort of trial-and-error approach to figuring out all of these different aspects of running a lab. I thought of myself as super-person who came from a family of super-scientists, so I thought to myself “I’ve got this stuff, it’s easy!”


Now, according to IQ tests and PhD’s and etc, I’m not a stupid person. However, I managed to fail miserably at the trial-and-error approach, and in retrospect there’s a clear reason why:

Trial-and-Error is Very Slow

It can take years (or decades) of trial-and-error to dial in something that works, while you burn bridges and get more frustrated along the way.  Just think about grant proposals. Let’s say you want to experiment with a new approach. You write your proposal with your exciting new technique, submit it, and wait.... for 3-8 months... to see what kind of results you get. Then if you didn’t hit the mark (the most likely scenario), the reviews you get back will often pick on things that aren’t the real, deeper problem. 


So then, even if you revise and resubmit, your score may not improve much... and sometimes it gets worse. (Yes, it’s happened to me. I am a living encyclopedia of what-not-to-do). Now, after two submissions, you’ve just burned a year or more, and still don’t have very good data about what was really wrong. 


Thank you dear reviewers for being so obtuse. (Okay , many try to do a good job, but most don’t know themselves what “set them off” - so they pick on the easy things to pick on, like your approaches).


That’s inefficient. 


Now think about the hiring process... finding a good person for your lab often involves extensive searches and interviews, then you have to have them in your lab for months before you can get a sense of if they are really a good fit. And the good news? If they aren’t a good fit, you get to go through a Human Resources nightmare to try to let them go. That could waste 6-12 months of time, while you’re still on the hook for salary.


Looking back at my own career as a professor, from 2002-2013, more than 60% of my time was wasted dealing with such issues - and my morale was pretty low as a result.


What a waste... not only of our own careers, but of all the resources that have been given to us to do research that’s supposed to make an impact.

Mentoring is supposed to fill the gap, but often doesn't.

Many institutions give lip-service to “mentoring” - and some even have programs in place to try to mentor faculty. I was assigned a faculty mentor when I first started, but I had difficulty making that work for me.


That’s because there are several problems with mentoring provided in the majority of research environments:


  • Mentors are just as busy and overwhelmed as you are (though they may hide it well)Realistically, how good is a mentor going to be who’s just as worried and stressed –if not more so– than you are? Unfortunately, mentoring younger faculty is often just another thing on the long list of “to dos” for senior faculty. Most mentors just don’t have the time to really dive into details with you. They don’t have time to create training and guidance on multiple topics - like how to manage a team, how to write a great proposal, how to handle difficult collaborations, etc - and then convey that to you. That’s because most are worried about keeping their own research afloat, and they may be struggling themselves.That doesn’t put them in a great position to mentor.

  • Mentors may be judging you.  We’d all love it if all of our colleagues were “perfect humans” who have no jealousy or judgment, and who just want to help. But it is very rare to find someone who can separate from their ego to truly help you – particularly through your difficult decisions or problems. This is a problem if your mentor is also one of the people who is going to be judging you for tenure and/or promotion. Opening up to them could be risky. This prevents honest and open conversations about what is really going on– the deeper challenges you are facing – and if you can’t open up about it, they can’t help with it.

  • Mentors are sometimes your competition. This is a tough one – but if your mentor is in the same area of research as you, and they are also submitting grants in that area, there could well be a sense of competition for scarce resources. This is often a subconscious effect – most mentors would never admit jealousy or worry about you being their competition. Yet it will affect the strength and clarity of their feedback to you – usually not for the better.

  • Follow my way because it worksMost mentors know one way to success (at least as much as they’ve had) – and that’s the way they took. Yet there are many paths to success. More importantly, due to our human individuality, what worked for someone else may make a different person miserable and unsuccessful. However, in the research mentoring enterprise, there’s very little recognition of the importance of individuality in terms of finding the best and most efficient path to success. Many mentees end up following a path that, given their own unique strengths and weaknesses, is not the best nor most efficient path. I’ve witnessed more than one career go down the tubes because someone was trying to model or emulate a way of doing things that was fundamentally incompatible with who they are. 

  • Lack of training in mentoring. Very few academic mentors have training or deep experience with mentoring. Most are simply thrust into the role of “mentor” after becoming a professor (or equivalent) – with no actual training in doing this effectively. Hence, the approach most people end up taking is trial-and-error, with a relatively low sample size, and inbuilt human biases. This means that much of the advice given out is akin to the common (but often very ineffective) grant writing advice floating around. It is subjective and based on limited anecdotal data. This can send people off track.

With all these challenges, it’s no wonder that finding a great mentor is like finding a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. It happens – but not very often.


I decided there HAD to be a better way...

I left UNC-Chapel Hill after tenure due to my frustrations, went to another institution, had a similar experience there... and then quit academia altogether. By then, I was truly negative on academia.


Yet I was helping people with grant proposals... and they were seeing lots of success. That was rewarding to see that I could help others bypass some of the pain I’d had.


Then, to my surprise, some of those clients asked me for input on other issues - things like hiring, how to maintain positivity in the face of lots of failure, leadership skills, and so on. Based on what I’d learned in my 12 years of building up a large lab (despite the mistakes) - and my ongoing commitment to self education - I hesitantly gave them feedback.


Many of them seemed to do better in having an outside mentor to bounce challenges off of. They were willing to open up to me in a way that they couldn’t within their own departmental structure. Over time, I gained more training in mentoring/coaching, and expanded the programs for helping people with not only grants, but all that other stuff.


Write Better Grants ... But Don't Stop There


I observed that the clients who obtained the most impact, balance, and well-being were those who not only worked on skills like grant writing, but who also went to work on the other stuff: their own mindset and self-image, their productivity, their leadership,and so on.


Soon, demand for my help expanded beyond what I could do individually for people 1:1. I had to raise my rates to over $800/hour for 1:1 time, and at that, had very limited in availability.


Yet my determination to continue helping researchers avoid many of the pitfalls I encountered - to have more fun, rewarding, and impactful careers - remains. Our world needs great research! But that can’t happen if you’re mired down in all that Dark Matter stuff.


That’s why I created the Research Success Alliance for people like YOU

The Research Success Alliance is based upon nine years of extensive, independent academic mentoring of researchers for success in both gaining grant funding – and once funding is obtained – in using that to enjoy a fun and impactful career.


I started the Research Success Alliance to fill the gap in mentoring that I experienced when I was a junior faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill. Being interdisciplinary - as an early bioinformatician before most institutions had programs or faculty in that area - I fell into a particularly large mentoring gap, and I struggled severely because of it.


I don’t want you – or anyone else – to experience the cycles of frustration and self-sabotage that I (or my colleagues) did.


Since the time I left academia altogether in 2013 to focus on helping others, things have only gotten more difficult and unhappy in the halls of academe.

Here are just a few of the challenges we have worked on with clients as part of our programs:​

  • Many departments urge junior faculty to “just submit for grants every round” – encouraging a culture of submitting lottery tickets for the sake of it, rather than promoting a culture of quality and top-notch work. These repeated “stabs in the dark” often lead to ongoing rejections, which inevitably corrodes morale. Worse, after a time, desperation often sets in, and this comes across in the writing. Reviewers can sniff out the desperation, and unfortunately this reduces the odds of funding further. This can lead to a cycle of doom for some, and ongoing low-level malaise for others. Instead of focusing on doing great research, people become trapped in a cycle of constant, low-quality “grant spam” being sent out.

  • Feeling overwhelmed and overworked is rampant. Many faculty now consider it a “badge of honor” to be seen working very hard, especially pre-tenure junior faculty. Conversations in the hallway often discuss late night and/or weekend stints as a sort of bragging rights, as if this assures success. Yet multiple studies on productivity – including data collected by one of my statistics-focused clients about her own productivity – clearly show that over-working results in lower overall productivity.

  • Many researchers feel trapped in a trade off between family and outside life, versus a seemingly all-consuming research and teaching career. This hits those who have or want a family particularly hard. I’ve seen a number of smart and capable women leave academia for this reason — and it definitely affects men as well. It often seems like each hour spent away from the lab means falling behind even further. It doesn’t have to be this way. Having a balanced life with work and outside activities or family can lead to greater success and satisfaction, rather than less. But it has to be done strategically and proactively – and unfortunately many don’t even feel they have the time to be proactive in setting up the systems, strategies, and personal boundaries necessary for this balance.

  • It is surprisingly common for those with outer success to feel like an “impostor” – i.e. that the success is due just to luck and some hard work. Even when I was at the top of my grant game – with two R01’s, an RC2 Grand Opportunities award, and CO-pi on a U24, I felt like it could all come tumbling down at any minute. I looked at colleagues and thought they all seemed to be doing better than I was feeling internally. This led to self sabotaging behaviors, like not asking clearly and confidently for the space I needed. Instead, my large lab was squeezed into a tiny space, and only once it became intolerable did I try to do something about it. By then I was angry and frustrated, yielding few results.

  • Procrastination and perfectionism are twin behaviors that stunt many careers – yet are surprisingly common. When clients come to me, it is very common for several manuscripts to be sitting incomplete, for grant proposals to be delayed until the last few weeks before the due date, and in general for things to be “stuck.” Often things are completed in a last-minute sprint, which leaves no room for the iteration necessary to produce high quality results – and worse, which leaves the participants often burnt out after.

To sum all of this up, succeeding in academic research while keeping balance, fun, and sanity intact, seems like a very rare thing. Yet it is not impossible. I’ve witnessed people who do it, and have helped numerous clients get much closer to these goals.


The Research Success Alliance brings together all the experience my team and I have in helping other researchers, to provide you with mentoring and training that’s focused on helping you overcome the challenges of a successful, balanced research career.


At it’s core it’s a researcher-focused mentoring program that helps you with both grants and the “other” stuff like productivity, leadership, collaborations, and so on.

Independent Training, Mentoring, and Community to Support YOU in having a Meaningful and Impactful Research Career

I created the Research Success Alliance to provide objective, independent support that first and foremost acknowledges your individuality. We know that the best path to success is the one that works for you– with your strengths and weaknesses – to produce career results that are satisfying to you, but that also bring balance so you can have a life outside too.


Specifically, we use an approach that combines three pillars of support:  Training, Mentoring, and Community


For those who want it, we also offer add-ons of a customized VIP mentoring plan for direct feedback on grants and more; intensives on subjects like productivity, alignment, and leadership; immersive retreats; and 1:1 mentoring support. Contact us directly for more information. 


Training - for a more effective YOU

Based on years of studying what makes humans more effective and efficient, combined with over a decade of combined team experience coaching researchers, we have created a library of proprietary courses and trainings in Research Success Alliance to help you work on the essential areas that will optimize your career.


As a member of RSA, you will have access to full courses such as Think Creative, Be Productive!, Four Steps to Funding, Core Productivity, Grant Dynamo 1, Science Rockstars, Über Productivity and more. Purchased separately, these courses would cost thousands of dollars, but they are available to the Research Success Alliance as part of your monthly membership. 


Although not extensively taught in the usual research career path, leadership, productivity, management and mindset are critical pieces of a successful research enterprise. These courses provide you with practical knowledge and exercises to help you learn these critical skills and turn what you’re learning into strategies and action you can apply right now to get results.




For example, in the area of personal development/mindset, tune into questions such as

  • Becoming very clear on who you are at your core - your unique individuality - and how to align that with what you’re doing for optimal progress and enjoyment of your career

  • The boundaries that you hold — or let slide — around pursuing your research and life in the way that best suits you

  • The ease with which you get distracted by things that don’t really matter to your own personal progress

  • How you take care of your physical and mental health to support resilience - especially in the face of challenges and perceived failures such as rejections

  • Tuning into why you’re really in a research career - i.e. your deep Root Desires - and using that to keep you motivated even when the going gets rough

  • Understanding how modes of thought and behavior exhibit a “resonance” with certain other people, and working on that to produce the best results

  • The level of Ego you’re operating from, and how that impacts our experience of our career and life

In addition to the courses, we have created a library of ad-hoc lessons in these areas to support you - with new content being added regularly. We base future trainings on listening to the challenges you’re facing, with the aim to share specific, usable strategies you can apply right now to areas like team management, grant writing, effective presentation, productivity “hacks,” and so on. Then, on the mentoring calls, we help you fine-tune your application of these.




Mentoring - Turn Knowledge into Skills 

While the trainings provide you with broad areas of essential knowledge — covering the many areas that graduate school does not — to get the most benefit, we need to help you turn that knowledge into deeper skills.


That’s where feedback specific to your situation - and colleagues’ situations like yours - is most effective. 


Get Feedback Specific to You


Each month, we offer 5 Mentoring Calls to help you both with skills like grant writing, and with deeper issues like your productivity, your mental fine-tuning, and finding effective personalized strategies for managing your team. These calls are the core of the program because it's often where all the action happens. 


Two calls each month are focused on grant writing questions, strategy and review. These calls are a combination of Q&A and a “hot seat” format, where you can submit questions or work in advance, for review on the call. Our coaches select from submitted Specific Aims statements, or parts thereof, and give direct feedback to you, the RSA member The calls are also open to deeper strategy questions such as responding to reviewer comments, deciding when to submit vs. collect more data, how to talk with program officers, and organizing priorities. If you're looking for an outside "read" of how you're proposing your work, this call is for you.


One call each month is for developing your career, management, and leadership skills. This call focuses on how you can become the very best leader of your lab, your collaborators, and in your research community. We address questions and issues you might have with lab management, challenges with collaborators or others in your University, questions on building the "brand" of your lab, and attracting the right people. Working with others is a critical part of establishing a successful career, but one that many people struggle with. Leave this call with clarity, strategies and confidence to move forward. 


The last two calls each month focus on your own productivity and mindset - because the self is the driver of all this great work you are doing. Your mindset impacts every aspect of your life, including your career and your grant writing. These calls will have you blasting through limiting beliefs, slaying self-sabatoge and dismantling recurring patterns that keep you stuck.


The Community Coaching call is an open group Q&A/discussion format, where we can discuss “whatever’s on your mind” in an open format. All members of our program can ask questions and get feedback on these calls. Bring your challenges, share wins, and listen in as others often have similar questions! We’ll provide you with strategies, ideas for systems, and ways of deepening your skills to address key areas of challenge.


​The Deep Mindset call is where we go DEEP into your thinking and patterns and how you connect with your inner CORE. Find your authentic self and learn how to align your work and life with your deepest motivations. This call discusses topics that may push your boundaries and veer into the "woo-woo" realm, but will also open your mind to a whole new way of living. 


The calendar of calls for each month is published in advance. Attend as many or few as you like, and if you can’t make it to a call, that’s okay - we record them and post them in the member’s area so you can listen in later.


Clients have found the mentoring and support provided on these calls to be critical for developing the foundation that it takes to have a great research career - without overworking, or having to schmooze your way to the top.


Why Group Mentoring is often Superior to 1:1 Work

For several years I did 1:1 mentoring, working with people on the goals of research and funding success while maintaining balance, fun, and sanity. However, my limited time meant I could only help a very limited number of people, and I found that I was often repeating myself in addressing the same problems with different clients.


In experimenting with a group setting, by accident, I discovered that when people were in group coaching, the sense of community – and seeing that others have the same kinds of issues and challenges – led to faster progress and more satisfaction. Since then, I have worked with people increasingly in group coaching settings, and have seen great successes.


Community and Culture - For Independently Minded People

Your humble author used to think “community” was kind of a stupid buzzword that had no relevance to my own career - that was, until looking back I realize how vital community was in shaping both the positive and negative aspects of how my career evolved.


We are all a part of one or more communities - a community of colleagues and peers both locally and in the wider context, along with other communities such as where we live and who we spend time with.


The community you spend time in clearly affects how you operate - and the results you get.


For example, multiple studies have shown that the friends you spend time with will directly impact your body weight (e.g. If who you spend time with affects body weight, it’s not hard to imagine that it affects you profoundly in other areas too. And that’s clearly what I’ve seen in nine plus years working with clients.


Is your current workplace environment set up to support your success? 


When it comes to research, unfortunately many of the communities are not very supportive or functional - especially at the local level. Many institutions are full of administrators and sometimes colleagues who are operating from a very narrow-minded focus on what’s important. They often act in a way that’s “penny wise and pound foolish” - i.e. due to fear and worry about budget woes, cutting corners in ways that affect morale.  An example previously mentioned is the penchant of many departments to admonish faculty - especially junior ones - to submit proposals on every potential major deadline, regardless of the quality or readiness of the proposal or the research. This wastes a great deal of time and energy, and due to the frequent rejections it engenders, often kills morale. 


Being surrounded by a community operating in this kind of way can result in lower morale, lower motivation, and less progress.


The counter to that is to spend more time in a different, more positive community. One that focuses on your wins as well as your challenges. 

Not interested in “community” or its counterpart of “culture?” I get it...

As a third generation researcher, when I started my faculty position I thought of what we did as researchers from a very individualist perspective. I thought I was there to single-handedly figure out the big problems of the day. Sure, I realized I needed some basic help to make that happen, but I pretty much dismissed “community” as something irrelevant to me. Plus, I’m pretty introverted, so I’d rather just be by myself a lot of the time.


Then, without even intending to, I created a community and culture within my lab. I was in the fortunate position to have several full-time staff members, and they became the core of my community. In retrospect, I can’t imagine achieving even a fraction of the success I did without that community support. When things got rough with my department, I had that community to turn to for support. I had people to talk to, bounce ideas off of, and even gripe to. 


Now, it wasn’t perfect, because I didn’t really know what I was doing and hadn’t created it intentionally.


Looking back, I wonder how much more effective I could have been if I’d paid more attention to finding and/or building a positive community of peers to discuss ideas and challenges with - and for support when things got rough. 


Finding positive and supportive colleagues


While I had a community within my lab, and some colleagues at the University, when I started having deep arguments about space issues with my department, I didn’t feel that I could unload this on my lab staff - I didn’t want to demoralize them. And many of my colleagues were my competitors for the same limited space. I felt frustrated with no one to talk to about it.


If I’d had positive, supportive colleagues to talk this over with, I’m sure I would have responded to the challenges much more effectively than I did


It’s that “gap” that led in large part to the supportive communities I’ve created for researchers like you, including Research Success Alliance.


Not only has it been shown time and again that having a positive, supportive community helps people thrive more fully (even introverts like me), it also provides a counterpoint to the often negative culture that exists in academia right now. What’s more, I’ve witnessed multiple new collaborations and friendships arise from the community.


To support the community aspect in Research Success Alliance, we have a dedicated 24/7 online forum exclusive just to members. These are people who, like you, are looking for growth and positive ways of dealing with the challenges of modern research careers.


We also have a dedicated monthly community call, which is your chance to get to know the other members of the community, and share what’s going on with you for positive, collaborative feedback. As well, if you choose to join us for one or more optional retreats, you’ll get a deeper chance to make connections with this great community.


Who Research Success Alliance Is For

Research Success Alliance is for researchers who understand that they are a “work in progress,” and want to work towards a more fun, more impactful, and more positive relationship to work and life.  It’s for those who want to have a meaningful research career, and want to improve themselves to the point that that can happen. 


It’s for those who realize that there are no shortcuts. You will “pay for” figuring out how to do this whole research-career thing either with your time (trial-and-error) or with your money (paying for mentoring to reduce the trial-and-error). 


It is for those who understand the concept of return on investment- i.e. how we never truly get something for nothing, and that building a successful research career absolutely requires the investment of time and/or money - and who are willing to make that investment.


It is for those who want far more than a mediocre career, who really want to figure out how to dial things in to have a major impact – while not giving up what makes you an individual, and not giving up the rest of your life.


It is for those who are willing to listen to and try out new ways of operating. Look, if your results aren’t currently ideal, then that’s because of the actions you’re currently taking. Since you can’t change the outer world, but you can change your way of operating, this is the only thing you can do to get different results. It can be scary to try new ways of operating, but it is essential if you want to progress.


It is for those who are willing to examine and sometimes change the core beliefs you hold. Being willing to deeply examine the beliefs you hold with respect to the outcomes you want for your career, figure out where they are in conflict, and work on changing them when they are in conflict is essential if you want substantial progress. Most people shy away from this work because it is truly scary - especially once we’ve graduated, we figure we’re kind of “done.” But we aren’t. There’s always progress to be made, and willingness to embrace this differentiates those who excel versus those who often linger in difficulties.


It is for those who want to excel and be outstanding, not just a “run of the mill” researcher. As the research environment continues to get more challenging, being “run of the mill” is just not enough anymore. 


It is for those who want to have true “academic freedom”. While the ideal of academic freedom is important to many of us, these days the only ones who really have it are those who have consistent funding and have the capability to lead a strong and successful research program. With these you can “write your own ticket” - i.e. if things are not going as you like, then you can always get a job somewhere else. Without these things, you are subject to the whims of local administrators who may see things very differently than you.


It is for those who enjoy the process of personal growthi.e. becoming a better, more efficient, more impactful human being.


It is for those who want to step more solidly into your own power as a leader, and experience more personal freedom as a result. It is understanding that doing so often requires difficult choices and hard work.


Who Research Success Alliance is


It is not for those who are happy with the status quo. RSA is built for those who want more out of their careers and lives, not more of the same.


It is not for those who are fine with mediocrity or “run of the mill” averageness. We are here to support those who want to excel, not just “get by.” By “excel” we don’t mean according to external measures like number of publications or funding, but instead by internal measures like feeling you’re progressing, making a difference, and having fun doing it.


It is not for those who are unwilling to make changes to operate more effectively. These changes can be hard - and even scary. For example, say you have a strong internal feeling or thought that right now submitting another proposal isn’t the optimal strategy - but your department is cajoling you to submit just for the sake of it. It is truly hard and scary to say to your chair “no, I am not submitting now because I want to get this publication out first”. And yet continuing in the cycle of submitting not-yet-ready-for-prime time proposals may be hurting you, so part of becoming more efficient is dropping this habit. This is just one example of hard decisions that often must be made as you move into your own power as a leader. We are here to support you doing that. If you’re not into that, and want to toe the party line, we can’t help.


It is not for those who feel like all their problems are due to someone or something else.  For example, someone struggling with funding blaming their issues on the difficult funding environment, or someone having difficulty finding a good employee blaming it on “no good employees being around.” Look, I get it, it’s fun to complain, but at the end of the day we can’t change things like the funding environment or how many good employees are around. We can only change our own thinking and actions - and that will get us different results. Blaming problems on outside factors is disempowering. We are here to empower you, so we can’t support you in disempowering behaviors.


It is not for the paranoid. We work often in small group settings to discuss both proposals and many other issues affecting productivity, leadership, and our own mindset. If you are paranoid that sharing anything about yourself with a small group will somehow be used against you, we can’t help you. Bréne Brown’s research has clearly shown that openness and vulnerability is an essential to growth and even happiness. If you aren’t willing to engage - at least a bit - we can’t help you.


It is not for those who like to cut down others to feel better about yourself. We are a positive, supportive community. That doesn’t mean we won’t be very direct in feedback sometimes about what we see going on. Yet all feedback given is from the standpoint of working to support and help, not to ever belittle or cut down. We won’t tolerate the latter.


Finally, it’s not for those who can’t handle direct, constructive criticism on proposals and other topics that come up. The only way we can efficiently help you make progress is through direct and honest feedback. That doesn’t mean we are always right. Ultimately, whether you accept the feedback is entirely up to you. But being able to listen and at least consider it is an essential part of growth and progress. If you find yourself defensive at even the smallest comment or feedback, this program isn’t for you.


Wow, aren't I being harsh?

With that list of who’s not a fit, it might seem I’m being harsh. However, we prize having a great community, and in order to maintain that, I have to be very direct with you about how we operate.


We want you to be successful so we can be successful. We can’t do that if there are people who are not a good fit dragging the group down. Better that you know these things now, than finding out later.


Your Choice: To Take Action or To Reinforce Indecision

On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your career right now?


Are you willing to take action to improve that score?


Now is your time to decide ....


The Research Success Alliance Includes

  • Access to Full Courses on Leadership, Grant Writing, Productivity and Mindset

    Full access to proprietary training courses on leadership, productivity, mindset, and more. Go through this material at your own pace.

  • Access to Private Membership Discussion Forum

    24/7 access to a private membership discussion area, monitored by coaches. This is the area to bring questions between calls, get feedback on trainings, and interact with your peers. We use a private site on the Slack platform, rather than a Facebook group, to minimize disruption and distraction to your day. Focus only on what matters.

  • Ad-Hoc Library of Lessons with New Content Regularly from Morgan and the Coaches

    The Library includes training topics on skills (such as grant writing, productivity), strategies (such as when to submit a proposal or how to build a team), systems (personal time management, managing employees), and self (your mental, physical and emotional habits that effect your life and work). New content is added regularly. Access 24/7 via our private members site. 

  • Two Monthly Grant Calls for Review and Strategizing

    Submit work for potential review, bring your grant questions, and learn what to focus on in your proposal writing. Listening in on these calls helps solidify the skills you are learning by providing feedback on your own work and real world examples from your colleagues.

  • A Monthly Leadership Call for Feedback and Mentoring from Coaches

    Get answers to sticky questions about lab management, dealing with colleagues and administrators, navigating politics, developing your leadership within the community, and other career questions. 

  • A Monthly Community Coaching Call to find your tribe and get support

    These calls are the perfect place to get feedback on your questions, big and small, share your wins and breakthroughs and discuss how to address challenges. Some calls include "mini trainings" on topics that regularly come up.

  • A Monthly Deep Mindset Call to dive into your inner motivations

    Discover how to align your life and work with your deepest, core motivations in order to live a more satisfying and enjoyable life. 

  • Access to 1:1 calls, Intensive Courses and Retreats

    Live Intensive courses and retreats get you out of your environment and focussed on a particular topic - such as productivity or grant writing. These add-on courses are available only to RSA members. RSA members also have access to purchase 1:1 calls with coaches for those times when you need extra support.

The Tuition

The cost of participation is $137/month


Get One Month Free With an Annual Membership


This includes 5 live coaching calls each month, access to full courses and a library of lessons, as well access to our slack channel where you can ask us questions and talk with your peers. This is a month-to-month subscription so you can try it out** and cancel any time.


Whenever the cost of tuition comes up, it's good to put this into context:


What is it costing you right now to stay where you are?


If you are struggling, or even just doing "ok" - what is that costing you in time, energy, and (most importantly) morale? 


Science (and the world) needs people who are fired up, motivated, and making a difference.

  • You started this career because you wanted to MATTER.
  • You wanted your work to mean something -- to yourself, and hopefully to the world.
  • You wanted your curiosity to lead you down the road of discovery.
  • You didn't want to be mired down in funding, bureaucracy, or management issues.


What if you could take a step now that would bring back the inspiration? 




*RSA VIP is the next tier up from RSA. In RSA VIP, you will get a package of 1:1 support to supplement the group work and a customized plan to work with your needs. If you are ready to make substantial personal progress, please contact about RSA VIP, so we can talk about your needs.


**If you decide to make the investment to try this out - please make space in your day to participate in the calls. This is where the magic happens and it can't happen FOR you, without YOU. Calls are held on different days of the month to accommodate many schedules. 


My "Secret" Mission

People sometimes ask me why I left my faculty job in 2013 to focus on creating classes and mentoring clients. “Don’t you miss the research?” 


My answer to that is “HELL YES I MISS THE RESEARCH!” 


But at the same time, I see all the people struggling with grant funding, overwhelm, lack of work-life balance, and many more issues. We need some serious upgrades to how the research enterprise operates — starting at the individual level. And that’s why I do this.


It is a travesty that our world's best and brightest talent is mired down in this mess of wasted time that comprises the modern research system. I have dedicated myself to stop the career-sinking, time-wasting problems that most people experience... not only with getting funding, but with managing to have a productive research career without being trapped in overwhelm without any kind of “life” to speak of outside of work.


It’s not only the missed cures and technologies, it’s also the personal toll. Researchers' creativity is being beaten down by trying to find the "right" project and get that "right" project funded. Faculty are overworked and stressed, leading to sagging health and relationships both at work and at home. Young people are avoiding science as a career because the examples they see are uninspiring.


And the world desperately needs science now - we are hovering on the brink of major decisions being made based on mis-information, pseudo-science, or just plain made-up facts. 


I believe The future of the research as we know it is in jeopardy.


If we do not take massive action to fix this broken system, we may not have research careers as we know them in 20 years.


The fastest way to make that change to the system is to improve the behavior and results of the people within that system. By helping you to waste less time on grants, and to live a happier, more satisfying life, there’s more science that will get done.


It is my firm belief that to bring science back to the forefront, we need individuals who are passionate and curious — i.e. those who have the ability to pursue their inspirations. We also need individuals who can effectively communicate their passions and their results to the outside world. And that is what we do here.


We teach researchers how to 

  1. Live happier and more fulfilled lives
  2. Be productive and valuable members of the communities they are part of
  3. Communicate effectively - in the form of proposal writing and all other forms of communication

It is my personal goal to reach more science and research professionals with this message, and that’s why I do this.


I hope you will join us in furthering this mission so you can spread YOUR passion and influence to others - both inside and outside of the research system. 

Join the Research Success Alliance

Need Help?

Email us at:

Phone:  208-514-1639

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