It’s an exciting time of year for me and for the members of the Reaxys PhD Prize Review Board. Between now and March 13, hundreds of submissions will come in from talented young chemists all over the world hoping to be selected as finalists for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize. The Review Board will have the pleasure of discovering the research being done by these students; in past years, it has been an inspirational and impressive collection of work representing the best new chemistry around.
For me as a non-reviewer, that enjoyment comes later when I get to meet the finalists and see their research. However, it is already a great pleasure to see how the competition we launched eight years ago has grown to become the world’s most prestigious award for chemists in PhD programs.
The Reaxys PhD Prize was created to recognize great science from young chemists. Every year, the Review Board receive applications from people who are currently in or have recently finished a PhD program focusing on some aspect of chemistry. From these submissions, the reviewers — all internationally accomplished and authoritative chemists —choose 45 finalists, who are invited to present their research at the annual Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium. From that elite group, the Review Board Chairs have the challenging task of choosing three winners, who are announced at the symposium.
Long-time Reaxys PhD Prize Review Board member Prof. Anthony Barrett of the Imperial College in the UK, summed up the challenge:
Because this is the most prestigious prize for PhD students in various areas of chemistry, we see excellent work and end up with a truly stunning group of people. The finalists are the best of the best. Choosing the 3 winners is never easy because they are all so good.
This year’s Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium will be October in Shanghai. All the 2017 finalists will be invited, with travel bursaries provided to ensure that cost is no obstacle to their attendance at the event.
To apply for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize
The deadline for submissions is March 13. Applicants must be in a PhD program or have finished their PhD after January 1, 2017. Each submission should include a published, peer-reviewed article, a CV (resumé), and a letter of recommendation from their PhD supervisor. Submit here.
After March 13, the submissions will be reviewed by the Review Board. They will consider each entry in terms of: originality, innovation, importance and applicability of the research; rigor of approach and methodology; quality and clarity of published work; and supporting evidence of these accomplishments from the recommendation letter and CV.
From these entries, the Review Board Chairs will select 45 finalists, who will be invited to present their research in a poster session or talk at the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium October in Shanghai.
More details available here.
Recognizing great science
The value of recognition of great science cannot be underestimated. Scientists have many motivations. The drive to discover. The determination to solve a problem. The dedication to spend long hours on research, lab work and analysis trying to find answers. The desire to make a difference. But nobody can deny that receiving recognition for a great piece of research gives one a great boost.
Great science should be celebrated. We should acknowledge those who help to improve the world around us, make life easier or safer, preserve biodiversity, and increase the wealth of knowledge of our society. That acknowledgement from the research community can be the spark that keeps their drive to discover going when the work becomes extremely challenging or a dead end is encountered.
Recognition from established and recognized scientists and institutions also opens doors, making it easier for talented and ambitious young scientists to take the step from PhD student to full-fledged researcher gathering their own team and furthering their own aims. Awards are part of that, although there is always the danger that they just become another line on a curriculum vitae.
The Reaxys Prize Club
To ensure that our Reaxys PhD Prize finalists don’t just experience a single moment of recognition but see that they are now part of something bigger, we have taken a further step. All finalists for the Prize are invited to join the Reaxys Prize Club. This is a unique, international network of chemists from all research areas and career paths. Its membership will continue to expand, and its importance will continue to grow as the members develop their careers. (You can read more about it in Elsevier Connect.)
The Prize Club serves as an introduction to talented chemists who could easily become a new member’s colleague or mentor. The online directory of members makes it easy to keep in touch. To help eliminate barriers to in-person meetings, the Prize Club provides travel bursaries, supports the organization of local and global networking events, and gives all members preferential rates for over 40 Elsevier conferences. Other support comes in the form of information: book discounts and access to the chemistry databases Reaxys and Reaxys Medicinal Chemistry.
Review Board member Prof. Barry M. Trost of Stanford University has this to say about the role of the prize and club:
Science is very important to the well-being of our society and the kinds of problems we encounter. If you think about the solutions to these, a lot of that lies in chemistry. The value and ability of chemistry to solve these problems depends on the people who decide they are interested in that science. And so the Reaxys PhD Prize are really about trying to get to and network the best possible people so that the science becomes the best possible to solve the problems of society.
Like the Review Board members, I’m excited to see what research this year’s prize will attract, and to meet the newest talents to be recognized for their work. But more than that, I’m proud of being a part of creating the Reaxys PhD Prize, especially upon seeing how this prestigious award and the related membership in the Reaxys Prize Club have positively impacted the careers of so many young chemists.
Watch a short video about the 2017 prize
Watch highlights from the 2016 symposium
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