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Douglas Prasher GFP Nobel Prize Story----Lessons in Career Management

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Douglas Prasher GFP Nobel Prize Story----Lessons in Career Management

Postby Nate W. » Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:35 pm

I feel kind of connected to this story since I was an undergraduate researcher at UGA in a neighboring lab when Dr. Prasher was conducting his research with Milton Cormier.

See the link:

http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30 ... sher-nobel

This story highlights the importance of good mentoring and issues related to providing proper credit to those who deserved it. Academia research has a history being quite Machiavellian on these points. I get the impression that Dr. Prasher wasn't proactive in managing his career and dealing with intrapersonal conflicts (i.e. bad PI or mentors). But how do you face these issues positively?

The previous article in Higher Ed suggests that one should either not talk about anything negative or just put a positive spin on it. However, often this leads to employees who ignore anything problematic and sugar coat the issue with a positive narrative. I know there are managers in the private sector that can't stand this behavior.

Personally, I found this behavior commonplace in academia. It is probably why issues related to bad mentoring, scientific misconduct, over-production of PhDs, and the gamesmanship in peer review never get addressed. Nobody wants to talk about it out of fear of possibly damaging one's reputation.

On a practical level, how does an employee address a problematic issue that needs to be solved in a positive and practical way when there is mindset to ignore the negative and only talk about the positive?
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Re: Douglas Prasher GFP Nobel Prize Story----Lessons in Career Management

Postby D.X. » Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:22 am

Nate W. wrote:On a practical level, how does an employee address a problematic issue that needs to be solved in a positive and practical way when there is mindset to ignore the negative and only talk about the positive?


Simple. Bring it up in a constructive way, without negativity rather state it as fact. Show that you've tried to get to a solution and acknowledge contructively the barriers and the same time, the opportunity.

If you take that Approach, you can move mountains and be of value to our organization. There are influcers in the Environment of course that can work against you, but if you stand on the platform of trying to do the right thing, while being transparent and saavily navigating the politics you can move things.

If you find you hit a road block and you've done the best the raise the issue, then read the hand-writing on the wall on move on. Sometimes one has to read the "readiness" of an organization to address some problematic issues - by analogy it can be trying to dock a boat in a storm, you may Need to take a few approaches, you may miss a few times, but at some Point the winds and currents and waves work in your favor and you get a successful Docking.

I've had alot of experiences here, some times when trying to dock in the storm, the repeated efforts may provoke some negative views on the ability to steer, but once you get it in, and make a few attempts, each time getting better at reading those winds, curretns and wave, those views can quickly turn on one positve acknowledgement and complements.

Hope it helps,

DX
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Re: Douglas Prasher GFP Nobel Prize Story----Lessons in Career Management

Postby Dave Walker » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:33 pm

Hi Nate,

Thanks for this article on a classic story -- it's the most complete summation of Prasher's events I've seen.

Maybe it's my Sales Side talking, but I prefer my platitudes as simple as humanly possible. In every situation, there are things you can control, and others you cannot. Successful people focus on the controllable, and they (actively) forget about the rest.

Look at this article's title: Bad Luck & Bad Networking Cost Douglas Prasher a Nobel Prize. Doesn't that say it all?

If you or anyone you know are in Prasher's shoes, please take the title's advice: you can't improve your luck, but you can always improve your network.

It's easy to see this story as heartbreaking, that someone slipped through the cracks in the system. I see it heartbreaking in a different way: if his networking skills were even just a little better, he might be a Nobel Laureate right now!
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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