Kind of an interesting observation, so I figured I’d post it.
Now that I’ve been here a little while and have gotten some research grants funded, I was curious how my research group was faring from the University’s finances perspective. Now of course this is going to be a gross oversimplification, but I figured a simple metric was taking the amount of money the University has gotten as indirects from my research grants (61% indirects rate; you can figure this out through a simple Google search), and subtract that by the amount of startup funds I’ve spent so far (note: this isn’t all the startup funds I have available; just what I’ve spent so far and is thus officially “gone”). Well, here’s what that looks like over the last two years:
So in short, at least according to this metric, I had (very understandably) started out in the red as I used startup funds to get things going before I got government grants to fund my work, but as of the last month or so I’ve crossed over into the black, where I’ve brought the university more money through indirect cost recovery than they’ve spent paying for things out of my startup account. Presumably this trend will continue, where I’ll be very slowly spending money out of my startup / discretionary funds and having that really get offset by the amount I’m spending through extramural research funds. Interesting.