Tournament market

09 Feb 2012
Posted by colby

From a 2008 article on an almost Nobel laureate who followed a career path that many researchers end up in and is how the science labor market in the U.S. (and I think globally) really works:

Taken for Granted: The Man Who Wasn't There

But a fourth man, Douglas Prasher, played what Tsien has called "a very important role" in the GFP story, making it possible for Chalfie and Tsien to do their work. "They could've easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out," Chalfie has been quoted as saying in numerous media reports. But they didn't give it to Prasher, and for anyone interested in understanding the scientific labor market, the tale of Prasher, the protein, and the prize serves, rather like a glowing body within a cell, as a marker revealing realities often obscured by misconception and myth.

In the mythic version, science rewards effort and ability, so Prasher's predicament must be some inexplicable mistake. In the real world, casting off large numbers of extremely capable people is no anomaly but simply how a tournament market works.