Entering the Eureka Prizes is often driven by the aspiration to be celebrated as a winner — and understandably so! But it can also serve as a multifaceted journey that presents a series of opportunities before the judging outcome is even revealed. From reflecting on your contributions and raising awareness of your work, to paving the way for aspiring scientists to follow in your footsteps, we explore nine reasons to participate in one of the nation’s leading science recognition programs.
Reflection and learning exercise
Entering a recognition program like the Eureka Prizes can compel you to step out of your day-to-day work and reflect on the purpose and impact of your contributions. Moving through the submission process encourages introspection, helping you articulate your achievements, outputs and strengths. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on opportunities for growth and refocus on your ambitions and professional plans. Collecting evidence and quantifying what you’ve accomplished can both offer a fresh perspective and serve as a powerful motivator, in turn contributing to your professional development.
Prepare valuable resources
The materials that you’ve invested time and energy into preparing don’t have to be limited to one-time use. Upon completion of the submission process, you’ll have a series of fine-tuned documents that you can refer to for other activities — regardless of the judging outcome. These might become valuable resources that can be adapted and built on for grant applications, presentations, reports and submissions to other recognition programs.
Open a conversation with someone you admire
Requesting assessor reports or testimonials is an opportunity to open a conversation with your collaborators, supervisors, partners and others you admire within your professional network. Seeking their input not only represents a chance to re-connect with peers — a diverse range of perspectives can produce insights that have value beyond the scope of your submission. The prospect of making an approach might be daunting, but reaching out to someone you admire can be a rewarding experience. You can learn more about preparing your assessor reports in this post.
Winning a Eureka Prize affirmed that the work we are doing is important and special at a national level.
Be part of a national publicity campaign
Congratulations – you’ve been selected as a finalist! Each year the Australian Museum engages a team of publicists to showcase the achievements of finalists via a national media campaign. We work with you and your institutions to maximise coverage in interstate, regional and suburban outlets, which has the potential to further raise your profile, both within the scientific community and among the public.
Receive external validation
Recognition through programs like the Eureka Prizes has the power to help validate your work, which can be especially rewarding in a team setting. While you’re most likely doing your work because it’s meaningful, receiving external validation and acknowledgment of your contributions can be encouraging. “Winning a Eureka Prize affirmed that the work we are doing is important and special at a national level”, says Anna Abela, co-winner of the 2023 Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion. “We do the work because we love it, and there’s no expectation beyond that. But it’s very exciting to step outside of the bubble and see that people are paying attention.
Attend an industry event
Each year the Eureka Prizes program culminates in a celebration of finalists at an award ceremony, which is also attended by prize partner representatives, judges, state and federal government ministers, and media. The gala event is not just a wonderful opportunity to establish new connections and broaden your professional network, but a chance to gain exposure to new ideas and discuss your own work. It’s also an incredibly inspiring and fun night!
Engage with the public
Beyond the award ceremony, the recognition associated with being selected as a finalist or winner can serve as a platform to communicate your work and messages to a broader audience. It can be an opportunity to engage with the public and promote scientific literacy, generate interest in your research field, and strengthen trust between the science community and public. At a time where effective science communication might be more important than ever, consider how your selection could help bridge the gap between complex research and the public’s understanding — and support of — scientific endeavours.
The first one I’ll never forget, it changed my career.
Build credibility and trust
Being endorsed and recognised by a program like the Eureka Prizes has the potential to enhance your credibility as a scientist or science communicator, building trust among your peers, major institutions and the public. By no means is this association a silver bullet, but it can further enhance professional reputation and serve as a stepping stone to other opportunities. Several Eureka Prize winners have reported that being awarded has helped foster new professional partnerships and secure funding. Just ask five-time Eureka Prize winner Sonya Pemberton: “The first one I’ll never forget, it changed my career.”
Inspire the next generation
Don’t underestimate the power of your work and recognition to inspire the next generation. There are plenty of school students with a passion for STEM – just look at some of the work being entered into the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize. Learning about your research and its impact might just nurture this interest, encourage participation in a new STEM experience or even serve as the catalyst for enrolment in a science degree and a fulfilling career.
While walking away with a Eureka Prize is most likely your ambition, all is certainly not lost if you don’t get selected by the judging panel. Simply preparing a submission can be an important stepping stone in your professional journey, while being chosen as a finalist offers many opportunities and benefits that you might think are reserved for winners. If you’ve been considering putting yourself forward but are unsure whether it’s worth your time and energy, remember that the journey can be just as valuable as the destination!
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.