Academic competition – friend or foe?

Two knight on a chessboard. Light and dark. Confrontation. Against each other. Forehead to forehead. Vintage toning.

With entries to this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prizes closing soon, we explore what academic competition means in today’s society.

Academia has always been a competitive field, and the reality of reduced availability in funding and jobs has only fuelled the flame. However, it is this very competition that drives researchers to better the science that has come before them.

Giving Australian science a stage

First presented in 1990, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes not only continue to be relevant but critical in an age when the challenges facing humanity and the planet are increasingly complex.

“Australian scientists are world leaders in discovering ways to combat climate change, disease and resolve technological challenges,” says Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum.

“The Eureka Prizes offer us a chance to reflect on and celebrate the brilliant Australians whose scientific breakthroughs offer us insights into the innovations that will fundamentally change the way we live and work.”

Rich’s Eureka moment

Since winning a 2017 Australian Museum Eureka Prize last year, Professor Rich Mildren says there has been a noticeable pique in interest from potential industry partners.

“We have been attending trade shows to better understand the need for technology in the defence space and to roadmap the path to deploying our high-power lasers,” he says.

“Entries to the Eureka Prizes are known to be vetted by a panel of judges, all experts in their fields – hence it is great endorsement for our discovery and achievements. This has added extra weight behind our claims, which may be regarded by some in the laser community as rather radical. Tangible outcomes should be hopefully visible in the next 12 months in the form of industry partnerships or IP licensing.

“It may even help with getting grants but it’s perhaps too early to say!”

What if I don’t win?

While we can’t all receive the recognition on the big night, it is important to understand the very act of applying, or seeking nomination, can positively impact your career in many ways.

We all know the application process can be gruelling and requires significant investment of time. But putting together an application can help you reflect on your skills and career progress to date. This can push you to fill in CV gaps, motivate you to increase your visibility within your Department or Faculty, and can encourage you to seek out networking opportunities with senior colleagues and potential mentors.

What are you waiting for? Apply today before entries close 7pm AEST Friday 4 May 2018. 





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