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The Hangover of Awards

Anand Krishnan, University of Calgary

I could feel my heart jump out of joy as if the message right away hit there. ‘You are qualified for the postdoctoral fellowship’ that was the message left for me by my friend. The much-anticipated postdoctoral fellowship gave me an assurance to my place in the present laboratory for another three years. I was no longer a burden to my supervisor. My supervisor would also be happy as he can utilize the funds reserved for my salary for some additional beautiful experiments.

Awards are sweet recognitions of one’s visibility in specific area(s). They take different forms like citations, research fellowships, travel assistance, visiting fellowships, etc. These, tokens of recognition, are always invaluable and give one an inner strength to steer towards a career path. It brings back the self-esteem in those who think of quitting scientific-research as a result of repeated encounters with experimental failures in the laboratory. Above all we cherish the awards that come our way and carefully highlight them in our CV.

Do we manage the hangover of these awards properly? Improper handling of these honors may leave you with negative impacts. In my opinion, there are two common ways by which we mishandle the awards. Over-celebration of these achievements by the winners is the first among them. Many researchers enjoy the job security offered by long-term monetary fellowships and this generates an easy-going attitude towards the work. In addition to this, many who aspire to make a career switch exploit the long-term fellowship period to prepare themselves for the new career. This kind of exploitation of government-aided fellowships cannot be tolerated since we all pay tax which is the primary source of research funds.  Why should I pay my penny for the luxury of someone else whom I even don’t know? In addition to celebrating the awards we need to welcome the responsibilities that are attached to them. Recognizing you for a specific work implies that you are capable of contributing more to that field and that you are expected to perform more.  It is a good practice to alert our-selves to this sense of responsibility we have towards the taxpayers. For me, this self-alerting always helps to survive over-rating of my awards and I am back to my unadulterated passion of work.  

Awards are created to encourage people. However, it is disappointing for those who do not get recognized. Often, the non-awardees tend to under-evaluate themselves as well. I remember my disappointment when I lost a ‘career award’ few years back. I had no idea why my application was declined even though I fulfilled all criteria of eligibility. My disappointment started to wane when my colleagues began ‘wondering’ why I wasn’t chosen/shortlisted. Their ‘wonderings’ were multicolored awards and gave me full strength to move forward with what I have been doing as a research student. I learned how to reflect on the credits around. And this learning helps me survive the aftermath of losing an award.

It is obviously a hard task for the award committee to choose one among the equals. It is not wise to consider awards as a means for self-assessment. The real credibility of awards is reflected in the credibility of the persons who receive them. Hands that own potential discoveries can only hold Nobel Prize.  Therefore, figure out the real and non-real recognitions before valuing them. Identify genuine people around who can raise real criticism and praise for your work. Perceive criticisms with true spirit and use them as guides to identify weak areas. It is difficult to attract genuine criticisms as well. Close interaction with peers and well-wishers often helps identify the weak and strong areas in you. I remember the delighted face of my supervisor when he finished reading a journal club article written by me. He gifted me one of his personal books with a writing in the front page “To my colleague, you have an outstanding career ahead of you”. I cannot highlight this in my CV for my career projections but his kind motivation strengthened my confidence on what I had been doing.  In addition his encouraging words alerted me to a sense of responsibility to utilize my capabilities in the right direction.  This article might have never happened but for his encouraging words. I consider this as a great award to me and enjoy its hangover, which I don’t want to diminish.

Author is a postdoctoral fellow in Clinical Neurosciences at Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

Hi Anand  I found this as a nice message at right time of my

Hi Anand 

I found this as a nice message at right time of my career. I have been doing this "easy going" for the last few months. Realy under the hang-over of an undeserving recognition which bestowed on me under some misterious circuimstances. It took some time to come out of that hang-over and get back to my original personality. Your article could be a boost to me to come out of that hang-over and easy going nature. Thanks for finding time to write this .. 

I feel you should have added bit more on the recognitions which can not be highlighted on CV like helping the labmates,providing right opinions and directions to somebody who is struggling and real mentoring support which changes the course of someone. I guess that is the nobility of science but it is no longer appreciated and valued. Morethan any of my publications what made me proud was that , oneday I found a pack of chocolate on my table placed by one of my collegue for giving a suggestion which changed her experiment.. I sincerely hope science will get back to those golden days....



Thanks Anish. I agree!!!!

Thanks Anish.

I agree!!!!

Buddy, I feel you have the great qualities of introspection


I feel you have the great qualities of introspection and retrospection. You also go one step ahead of practising the corrections that you learn from them with a vengeance which is the toughest part. All your credits are your own and I feel very proud to have you as a friend.  All the best for your continued " unadulterated" passion in this very sure successful and very long journey. Quite a long way for you.

Please continue this correct way of suggesting things.

Regards Nithin

Its a nice piece of quotable work

Its a nice piece of quotable work

Well said dear...i wish you will never get out of this

Well said dear...i wish you will never get out of this hangover by continue receiving awards and recognitions you well deserve. I would say insecurity of funds is a terrible thing and guaranteed funding is a double sword - you can focus on your research without being worried and at the sane time become too relaxed to put your best. Overall in any instance "lage raho munnabhai"

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