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Another inspiring NSF success story

June 1, 2016 | Nat'l Science Foundation (NSF)

Since joining the faculty in the Department of Psychology at Idaho State University in 2005, Professor Tera Letzring has had a strong interest in how accurate judgments of personality traits are made. She has, for many years, been interested in the fact that several factors influence how accurately someone can judge a person’s personality traits.  In thinking about this and based on many discussions with Dr. Judith Hall at Northeastern University, Dr. Letzring and Dr. Hall had the relatively novel idea that the accurate assessment of a person’s emotions in a given situation might well be able to provide an accurate window into that person’s personality traits. With some evidence to support that idea, they submitted a number of applications to the NSF seeking financial support for that idea, none of which received a sufficiently high evaluation from the panel for financial support. Undaunted by the fact that her three previous efforts were not successful, and based up on the fact that NSF Program Officers agreed that she had a good idea and should be encouraged to continue to pursue this work, she was not discouraged. Of particular importance, in this respect, she adopted the attitude that, if you have a good idea, eventually it will be funded. As rather astutely noted by Dr. Letzring: “…as long as they keep encouraging us, we will submit it.” ( We would suggest that many new (and initially unsuccessful) grant proposal applicants would be well served by adopting a similar attitude.

This concept certainly underscores the fundamental basis on which our own organization, Grant Writers’ Seminars & Workshops, LLC (GWSW), has operated for almost a quarter of a century, namely that more good ideas fail because of bad ‘grantsmanship’ than because of bad ideas. That is, that the way in which an idea is presented can be as important as the actual idea itself. Armed with her good idea and continuous encouragement, Dr. Letzring, who had previously attended a university-sponsored GWSW comprehensive workshop, applied for and was selected for an individual one-on-one grantsmanship consultation. Her goal was to refine and polish those novel ideas prior to her fourth submission to the NSF for support, and she knew that working with a grant proposal writing consultant would be likely to help her achieve this goal.

We are most happy to report that Dr. Letzring was successful in those efforts and has very recently been notified by the NSF that her latest efforts for support have resulted in an award of more than $400,000 over three years, an award that she will share with colleagues Dr. Judith Hall from Northeastern University in Boston, and Dr. Jeremy Biesanz the University of British Columbia. As acknowledged by Dr. Letzring, “I’m sure the help from the Grant Writers’ consultant helped bump us up to the funding category.”

We at GWSW would like to be among the first to congratulate Drs. Letzring, Hall, and Biesanz on this new award and we are honored to have been able to play a relatively small part in her current success. For a related link, please see: emotions/39727590

Other recently-funded grant applicants are encouraged to contact GWSW and provide us with
details of your own success story. Please send them to