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I remember well the angst over writing grant proposals. When I was a fisheries PhD student, I wrote a few while indulging in long, intimate bouts with coffee. Two proposals got funded--a large one, prepared with my advisor's help, by a federal agency, and a small one by a sports fishing research organization. This experience helped me write an aquarium's funding proposal later, when I started science writing full time. (Unfortunately that one didn't get funded.)

If you are a PhD student or postdoc, writing your own grant proposal--regardless of its success--and the comments you get from grant reviewers and colleagues can give you an edge. "I think the only way that they can understand that [importance] is by talking to a lot of people about the grants process. For some, this isn't even on their radar screen," says Victoria McGovern, a program officer at the Burroughs...

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