How Bad Institutional Support Cost Douglas Prasher a Nobel Prize
Maggie Delano
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This is an interesting point to illustrate that we do indeed need better mentors in academia. But this article is only the start: it would have been nice to hear a bit more about his work and why he was failing to secure funding (you can find that in other popular press articles). To be sure, instances such as this are only becoming much, much more common as our American, post-WWI bubble that was abundant funding for research has popped. The success rates for more competitive pots of money has been dropping in recent decades and we more often than not have a culture of continuing to fund what we have funded in the past. Spice that up with more of the crazy “public or perish” dogma, the fact many traditionally underrepresented groups have not easily found a foothold in academia, and you have receipe for squeezing out talented people.

But perhaps more importantly is the inherent notion that nobel prizes or other external reward mechanisms are true markers of success. Dr. Prasher went on to work in government labs developing gene-on-a-chip technology, doing fisheries population genetics, etc. Whose to say that career path is necessarily less rewarding, better for one’s family, etc. than a life as a tenured professor?

This article is a great conversation starter; you can take that converstation in bunch of directions.

Thanks!

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