Monday, January 22, 2007

And the winner is...

Why are there so many prizes, medals and awards? Many issues of Angewandte contain the “awarded” section. (Oh no, not another Bourke Medal, Bredreck Prize, Ziegler Prize or Alfred Stock Memorial Prize!) There are in fact so many (62 admistered by ACS alone) that even I won a highly insignificant prize once for the work I did for my graduation. (The small amount of money that came with it was quite useful though.) Every industrial company, research institute, chemical society etc. etc. must have their own prize it seems.

Nowadays the CV of a respectful professor in chemistry says: “among the prof’s awards are…” and then a selection of only the 21 most important prizes. Mentioning all prizes probably takes too much space. There are so many prizes that you can have at least 4 awards a year for the rest of your life.

The fact that someone gets the Novartis prize is good for him or her, but who cares! It is just good for Novartis to have the right friends I presume. (I do not mean to say that the people do not deserve the recognition though.)

A Nobel Prize is good for your CV but the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis is not something that you will be remebered for next century I think.

Having a named-award is not that exclusive anymore either. People can even have one while still alive like the Corey-award, sponsored by Pfizer. (Was Corey not the guy that inspired Pfizer to develop Lipitor?)

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